Portola Music Festival Fills a Gap for San Francisco's Dance Scene, But Who is it For?

Aug 17, 2022

Sierra Vandervort

2 min read

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG for short) has two undeniable talents–pissing off liberals on the internet, and creating impossibly stacked music festival lineups. The behemoth behind Coachella is expanding up the California coast this year with the inaugural Portola Music Festival in San Francisco. The two-day fest takes place on September 24-25, and features one of the most drool-worthy lineups we’ve seen all year.

Spearheaded locally by Non Plus Ultra and Goldenvoice (a subsidiary of AEG), Portola will fill a notable dance-music gap in the Bay Area festival scene. Though San Francisco is a steward of electronic music culture, there aren’t many local, large-scale festivals.

What many are questioning is if AEG is the production company to do it. The LA-based company has been regularly shamed for openly supporting anti-gay and anti-weed initiatives. Though SF is openly one of the “gayest” cities in the country–and it is California, so weed is inevitable–it’s unlikely that politics will thwart the success of Portola.

Promoters from Goldenvoice cited the 1909 Portola Fest, which was a kind of rebirth event for San Francisco after the devastating earthquake and fire of the same year. As the city is still picking up the pieces after a pandemic, they see Portola 2.0 as a rebirth of its own. But at $200 for a single-day ticket, this rebirth won’t come cheap.

As far as music goes, it might be easier to ask who’s not on the Portola lineup this year. The roster is heavilly dance-leaning with a few notable hip-hop and electro-pop artists.

Flume, Kaytranada, Jamie XX, Gorgon City, Fatboy Slim, Charli XCX and Caribou all sit atop the lineup for Friday. Not to be outdone, Saturday night hosts The Chemical Brothers, James Blake, M.I.A., Lane 8, Peggy Gou, Toro y Moi, Duke Dumont, and more.

It’s an openly indulgent showcase that reads very Coachella, but the distorted event branding and bare, gravel lot venue at Pier 80 make it feel welcoming to lo-fi, house kids. It’s hard to say what the premiere of Portola will bring to the Bay Area, but we can’t say we’re not interested.

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