As a rule, students are overstimulated. Your online research efforts are relentlessly flooded with ads, and even the basic communication tools of social media are rife with solicitations to purchase something, attend some event, or ‘like’ some organization. Surely, you’ll want to get away from it all. Thankfully, Portland has no shortage of bars, concert halls, and reading rooms, and those each have their own draws. But if you’re looking for entertainment on any old night of the week, either to catch up with a friend or to meet some new ones, here’s some real-talk advice about your in-town options.
This is a place you’ll find yourself on those rainy, windy, bottomless nights when your hunt for fun mingles with the devilish urge to destroy yourself juuust a little bit. When there aren’t rawly funky rock bands playing in the fenced-in back patio, you can huddle in a booth sipping strong margaritas and crushing a nacho plate—seriously some of the best in the city—letting the burly riff-rock blaring from the speakers drown out the bros shouting around the pool table. For some there’s no clearer picture of heaven.
9 Dana St. | sporadic shows Fri-Sat
Arcadia National Bar
It opens next week, so everything we can say about this new barcade is pure speculation. We have the labors of local dudes Dan Aceto and Ben Culver to thank for this youthful fantasia-to-be—pinball, video games, and a full bar can go a long way in those dreary winter nights when you’re given up wrestling with that Psych essay.
24 Preble St. | no live music…yet?
Their concerts are super well promoted, but you don’t always hear about the weekly fare at this Old Port hang. Friday’s “Plague” night of goth/industrial tunes is something everyone should try at least once; Thursday’s basement dance party is an ageless wonder that still features some weird, risky tunes among the crowdpleasers; and Wednesday’s Rap Night does for Portland what Yo! MTV Raps once did for the entire world.
121 Center St. | live music & dancing Wed-Fri
This truly enormous sports bar and wing-o-rama hut has been known for their ladies’ night for a while now—sometimes for the wrong reasons. Word is the environment’s gotten a little less crazy (and a little safer) since DJ Verbatum refashioned the basement into Basslines last year. They still host a ladies’ night every Wednesday, and a college night with DJ Trill1 every Thursday, one of the few places in town 18-20-year olds can dance. Look out for the Chaos parties.
23 Brown St. | DJs & dancing Wed-Thurs
Still one of the best places to see live music, watch a game, play sports, or yell really loudly; with strangely far fewer downsides that come from practicing any of those activities in other bars. Crucially, it’s not a 21+ venue, and while their live music schedule is pretty irregular, you can always count on a good, free, scorching garage-rock show at least once a month, and if you pay attention, many other inspired rock jams too.
58 Alder St. | sporadic live music