Inside the New Portland-Centric Music Festival at Zidell Yards

Parisalexa, Blitzen Trapper, and others will hit the South Waterfront August 14 and 15.

By Cami Hughes August 13, 2021

Portland musician Jacob Miller performing at the Lot at Zidell Yards, with Tilikum Crossing in the background

Image: Norman Eder

This weekend, the Lot at Zidell Yards is taking on its biggest event yet: a summer music festival.

The Lot is a pandemic-era outdoor venue that’s been host to film screenings and many of Portland’s favorite artists, including Blossom, Ural Thomas, and Sávila, since it opened this year on Memorial Day weekend. On August 14 and 15, it will play host to a new music festival, where guests can book seating pods for two, four, or six people, and grab food and drinks from a slew of local vendors.

Louise Woodward, the Lot’s music director, says the hope for the event is “to bring Portland’s music back to Portland” by highlighting local performers. Each act has its own ties to the Rose City, including headliners Parisalexa, who recently moved to Portland, and Blitzen Trapper, which has its roots here. “We’re spoiled [with the] music choice here. I mean there’s no shortage of a music scene in Portland,” Woodward says. 

After talking with multiple venues throughout the world that have already held music festivals this summer, event organizer Christina Fuller and her team decided the Lot's pod format, with fenced-in areas that seat two to six people, was the best way to showcase the music in a safe way. As for the heat—which will be less intense on Saturday and Sunday than it was during the week, but only just—Lot staff say there will be kiddie pool cooling stations on-site, with sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas, on offer, and they hope the late-evening start time will mitigate the worst of it.

Woodward says that during the Lot’s previous events, “the biggest joy has been at sound check…. The first time we heard, you know, ‘test one two, two one two,’ I think there was a rousing cheer and high fives, it was great. We’ve all missed it.” Parisalexa hopes the event can fill the “huge hole in people’s lives, including performers” that the past year’s lack of live music has created.

Each night of the festival will feature four performances, with DJ sets between each. In addition to the headliners, the billing includes country-western sister duo the Barbaras, a showcase from the collective People Music, indie pop band Pure Bathing Culture, and "psychedelic Cumbia" group Orquestro Pacifico Tropical.

The Lot Summer Music Fest

Sat–Sun Aug 14–15, The Lot at Zidell Yards, $60–75 per person per day

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