Portland's Lose Yr Mind Fest is about as DIY as it gets. Born out of a series of house shows and warehouse parties, the scrappy music festival, now celebrating its eighth year, has come a long way since its heyday. But that doesn’t mean it's lost its edge.
Hoping to offer an alternative to larger, more corporate music festivals, organizers Elizabeth Elder and Bryan Wollen sought to create an alternative space to showcase touring bands back in the early 2010s. “We wanted to be a little bit more community-focused. And you know, a little bit more affordable too for the starving artist crowd,” says Elder. They started throwing parties in warehouses, which turned into two-day events, which turned into the modern day Lose Yr Mind Fest.
This year’s festival kicks off with a show from rock trio Death Valley Girls at Kelly’s Olympian on Thursday, September 1, along with performances from Seattle band the Black Tones and doom metal band Mala Suerte. But the real meat of the festival spans Friday and Saturday, September 2-3, all at close-together Central Eastside venues Vitalidad, Bunk Bar, the Get Down, and Swan Dive (the former Bit House Saloon).
(Lose Yr Mind's organizers originally planned to use their soon-to-open Lollipop Shoppe located in the old Dig A Pony space, as a venue, but they pivoted to the neighboring Swan Dive due to construction delays. When the Lollipop Shoppe, co-owned by Elder and Wollen alongside Tulip Shop Tavern owners Devon and Tyler Treadmill, eventually opens, it will be a music venue and bar with a psychedelic rock and roll vibe; the name is inspired by a ’60s garage rock band.)
This year’s lineup features 40 acts, nearly three times as in past Lose Yr Minds. Performers include headliners (and locals) the Dandy Warhols and NYC post-punk band Bush Tetras, who have recently recruited former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley after their original drummer, Dee Pop, passed away last year.
This year will also feature two showcase sets, one from monthly hip-hop showcase the Thesis, which will feature Portland rappers Lord Lawrence and Bird Bennett, and one from local label Mama Bird Recording Co., featuring blues and folk artists.
This will be the first time Lose Yr Mind has booked hip-hop artists. “As we have more stages and the opportunity to book more artists, we’ve branched out to bring in more genres," Elder says. "We’re very selective of who we put on our bills. We spend time listening to them and making sure they work with the other bands, so we feel like our shows are pretty special because of the attention to booking.”
At its core, Elder says the event, which is largely a volunteer effort, is a chance for Portland’s community to gather. The festival takes about 10 months to plan, with many staff working other jobs, even sometimes putting up their own money to pay for it.
“I call it a big house show. We hang up a lot of Christmas lights everywhere. It's a really fun community event. It kind of feels a little bit like some of the older days in Portland, you know, back in the mid 2000s," Elder says. "There were a lot of house shows happening and rent was a little bit more affordable, so we had some more artists living in Southeast at the time. And I think we have kept that energy going through doing this.”
Thu–Sat, Sept 1–3, various venues, $25–120