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Noise complaints be damned, SF’s Portola Festival is back for September

Two musicians in white jackets perform on stage, one pointing up, the other at a keyboard, amidst dramatic lighting.
The French duo Justice, having just released their first album in many years, is scheduled to play at the third annual Portola Festival at San Francisco's Pier 80 this September. | Source: Courtesy Medios y Media/Getty Images

San Francisco’s electronic-heavy Portola Festival will return for a third year, producer Goldenvoice confirmed on Monday with an official lineup release. The two-day fest is scheduled for Sept. 28-29.

Unlike most lineup posters, which indicate a clear hierarchy of headliners and supporting acts, Portola’s punk-inspired design gives fewer visual clues as to who will get top billing on either day. But big names abound, including the Australian trance trio RÜFÜS DU SOL, the unpredictable British rapper M.I.A. and the highly choreographed French duo Justice, a longtime festival mainstay who just released Hyperdrama, their first album in several years. 

Whereas Outside Lands’ recently released lineup included more than a few country acts and surprises for that always-eclectic three-day festival, Portola focuses more narrowly on EDM—particularly acts from the U.K. Twenty-year scene veteran Four Tet, 2010s wunderkind duo Disclosure and mega-producers Jamie XX are all confirmed, as are a number of big names from North America, including Honey Dijon, Peaches, Soulwax, Tycho, Fisher and Deltron 3030. Gesaffelstein, a French DJ known for his bombastic live sets, is also on the lineup, as is DJ Pee .Wee, an alter ego of Southern California rapper Anderson .Paak.

A joyous woman is raised above a crowd at a festival, arms spread wide, smiling.
A lively crowd fills up Pier 80's warehouse at the Portola Festival in San Francisco in September 2022. | Source: Courtesy Goldenvoice

The Portola lineup poster leaked to the internet last Friday afternoon—seemingly by accident, as it contained a watermark revealing some hapless individual’s name and phone number, which M.I.A. later retweeted and deleted. Goldenvoice’s Instagram post on Monday paid cheeky homage to that error, saying, “Yea, it’s real. Sorry we were m.i.a.” 

M.I.A.’s goof is particularly notable, as she canceled her performance at the inaugural Portola Festival in 2022 at the last minute, citing health concerns.

Early responses to the lineup seemed strongly positive, with one commenter noting that “the more you look, the better it gets.”

Tickets go on sale this Friday at noon.

A lively outdoor music festival crowd near a stage with large screens, under daylight with industrial cranes in the background.
Portola Music Festival attendees gather at the Crane Stage on Sept. 30, 2023. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

After the festival’s debut in September in 2022—on the same weekend that brought tens of thousands of kinksters and BDSM practitioners to San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair—Portola moved to the first weekend of October in 2023. That put it in direct competition with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the free, folky event held every year at Golden Gate Park’s Marx Meadow. For 2024, Portola will now go back to the last weekend of September, opposite Folsom once again.

In spite of a little early-season rain, the 2023 iteration of Portola was much smoother than the first year, both in terms of cell service and crowd control. Electronic performances are often loud, however and last year’s festival was met with complaints—chiefly from residents in Alameda, several miles across San Francisco Bay from the festival itself. A move to shut down the festival was short-lived, however, as the organizer promised better outreach and sound dampening in 2024.