I admit that my 2022 bingo card did not have a major music festival from the organizers of Coachella coming to the quiet, residential neighborhood of Portola. But the just-announced Portola Music Festival (September 24-25) is actually set to take place about a mile away from Portola at Pier 80, which is more like Dogpatch or Islais Creek. But the festival boasts a spectacular EDM lineup featuring Grammy winners Flume, Chemical Brothers, M.I.A, and Fatboy Slim.
Introducing San Francisco's Portola Music Festival 🌐 Register now for first access. Pre sale begins this Friday at 10am PThttps://t.co/rMvrVYLt6O pic.twitter.com/1Zl5K5x8cm— Portola Festival (@PortolaFestival) May 16, 2022
This frankly very impressive lineup also includes Kaytranada, Jamie xx, Jungle, Charlie XCX, Peggy Gou, and James Blake. There are also performance from San Jose native DJ Shadow, and Bay Area vocalist Toro y Moi.
The festival was just announced Monday, and tickets are already going on sale this coming Friday, May 20, at 10 a.m. The prices are pretty much the equivalent of Outside Lands; single-day passes are $199.95, two-day passes are $299.95. There are pricier VIP packages, but also payment plan options to spread the purchase out over two payments.
It remains to be seen whether a festival can successfully charge Outside Lands-level prices and fill a big venue just six weeks after Outside Lands, especially with the absolutely free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass looming the very next weekend. There is also a scheduling conflict for the LGBTQ and kink communities, because the Folsom Street Fair is the very same weekend as the Portola Music Festival.
And speaking of conflicts, it is well-established that this promoting firm that runs Coachella, Goldenvoice, is owned by right-wing mega-donor Philip Anschutz, who has given significant donations to anti-LGBTQ causes. His funding of anti-abortion groups like the Family Research Council, and the National Christian Foundation might seem even more problematic in the current assault on Roe v. Wade. The company has lately added some inclusion initiatives to their festivals, but it will still be interesting to see if and how this debate plays out in the Bay Area.
In a less-complicated historical footnote, there has been Portola Festival before in San Francisco, back in 1909. That festival featured a parade, musical performances, athletic competitions, and a beauty contest. Like the original 1912 Bay to Breakers, it was one of those post-1906 earthquake events intended to lift the city's spirits after a deadly and difficult period.
That feels familiar at the current historical moment. So the name Portola Festival may be a little off geographically, but still hits the right notes.