Portland Music Festival Field Guide

Be prepared with our Do's and Dont's for the best local music events: Waterfront Blues Festival, PDX Pop Now, and Pickathon.

By Zach Dundas June 2, 2013 Published in the June 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Courtesy KBOO

Waterfront Blues Festival • July 4–7

The pitch Four days of blues on the banks of the Willamette in support of the Oregon Food Bank  

The vibe Your Fourth of July picnic, if you invited half of Portland, anyone who owns a riverworthy boat, and Robert Plant

See Ye olde Led Zeppelin wailer and his new act rooted in Delta blues, gospel/soul legend Mavis Staples, and fleet-fingered Blind Boy Paxton

Do Consider the “After-Hours All-Stars” shows at Downtown’s Marriott Hotel and the evening “Blues Cruise” on the Portland Spirit.

Don’t Forget the new ticketing setup: a $10 donation and two cans of food gets you in July 4–6, but you’ll need a pass (starting at $50) for the headliner-packed “Sensational Sunday.” 

PDX Pop Now • July 19–21 

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Image: Courtesy KBOO

The pitch A free, all-ages celebration of all things local and indie

The vibe An insider’s guide to established local greats and an early look at the bands your friends in Brooklyn will be obsessing about next year

See The lineup was pending at press time, but organizers touted alt-country Richmond Fontaine, the riotous old-style cumbia of Orcestra Pacifica Tropicale, and the hypnotically sexy dance music of Natasha Kmeto ... plus “secret headliners.”

Do Stick around for Rigsketball, the hilarious (and surprisingly competitive) annual basketball tournament that pits local bands against one another. 

DON’T Bring booze. This festival holds its all-ages heritage sacred.

Pickathon • Aug 2–4

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The pitch A three-day, multigenre jamboree held in the woodsy redoubts of Clackamas County, this is Portland’s smart-money choice for sharply curated indie music and a humane, laid-back atmosphere. 

The vibe Bohemian summer camp for the whole family

See Big-venue acts Feist and Andrew Bird, international talent Vieux Farka Toure, and snarly New York newcomer Parquet Courts 

Do Get the “early entrance” pass and set up camp on Thursday, before the chaos begins.

DON’T Go late to any show at the Woods Stage and expect a good spot. You’d have better luck making it through Middle-earth’s Mirkwood Forest. 

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