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The Portola Festival at Pier 80: Prepare for SF’s brand new two-day electronic music party this weekend

Kaytranada performs at Met Life Stadium in July 2022. | Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Live Nation

The shipping containers of Pier 80 will vibrate this weekend as EDM fans converge at Goldenvoice’s inaugural Portola Festival for two days of house, techno and other electro genre-benders. 

Building the hype from zero, the 21+ festival had no choice but to go big with the first year’s lineup, featuring artists across the EDM spectrum, including electro-soul producer Flume, big beat duo the Chemical Brothers, as well as Kaytranada, Jamie XX and Lane 8. Oakland’s chillwave-turned-psychedelic luminary Toro y Moi, who’s scheduled to close out the Ship Tent on Sunday night, gives the lineup some local flavor.

Goldenvoice, the promoters behind Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Festival in Southern California, announced last week that British rapper M.I.A. dropped out due to “an unexpected and serious health matter,” and the final word on who’s set to take her place is still forthcoming.

Courtesy of Portola Festival

The festival grounds, which are a couple of miles away from the Portola District and even farther from the street of the same name, is actually a tribute to the Portola Festival of 1909. Three years after the 1906 Earthquake, the city hosted a series of parades attended by around a million people to signal to the world that San Francisco was back.

In 1948, the city resurrected the Portola Festival as a weeklong Mardi Gras-esque celebration—a post-war attempt to revive local commerce. Businessman Cyril Magnin resolved to make the revelry an annual event but interest waned after that first year.

Seventy-four years later, the 2022 reincarnation of Portola Festival arrives during a new chapter in live local music, as the city rises from the ashes of Covid concert cancellations. We can’t know how the original 1909 festival organizers would react to a weekend of techno and electro-pop, but if anything, Portola’s legacy of community revival shows us how history is cyclical. 

The Chemical Brothers perform in July 2022 in Rome, Italy. | Photo by Roberto Panucci/Corbis via Getty Images

Attendees can fuel up on-site with food and libations from local restaurants like Miller & Lux, Hawker Fare, Shuggie’s Pizza, Radio African Kitchen, Gracias Madre and Vegan Mob.

The dance party kicks off well ahead of the gates opening—and continues long after—with a slate of additional concerts that Goldenvoice is calling “Portola Week.” It begins with Australian electro crew the Avalanches’ appearance at the Warfield on Wednesday night and will reach a crescendo at Sunday’s after-party, where headliner James Blake will light up the Midway. 

For those looking for a sonic preview of the lineup, take a spin through Portola’s Spotify playlist

Toro y Moi on stage in Philadelphia in September 2022. | Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Neighbors can expect road closures all day on Saturday and Sunday in both directions on the following streets: Cesar Chavez (between Illinois and Maryland Sts.), 25th St. (between Illinois and 3rd Sts.), Marin (between 3rd and Michigan Sts.), Michigan (between Cesar Chavez and Marin Sts.).

Portola Festival

Pier 80 | 401 Cesar Chavez St.
Sept. 24-25 | Gates open at 12 p.m., music ends at 11 p.m.