Portola Music Festival 2023 in San Francisco met many expectations from fans and personalities of the dance music world. The festival, which debuted last fall, just hosted its second edition during the weekend of September 30 through October 1. Portola Music Festival 2023 returned to Pier 80 in San Francisco’s Dogpatch District, which was also the location of last year’s premier edition, and the past two days of the festival were memorable occasions that one will never forget. San Francisco has hosted plenty of awesome music events and festivals over the many decades and this weekend’s Portola Music Festival welcomed the best in House, Techno, Indie, Hip-Hop, and other wonderful artists from diverse genres. Here is the event review of this past weekend’s Portola Music Festival.
*Featured Cover Photo Credit: Portola Festival/ALIVE Coverage
The First Steps Inside Portola Music Festival
The festival’s location of Pier 80 is located a block away from one of San Francisco’s top nightclubs/entertainment venues, The Midway. In fact, from The Midway are two entrances that lead to Portola Music Festival, one from Cesar Chavez Street and one from Marin Street. Once arriving inside Pier 80, fans can see the importance of the pier in global trade since Pier 80 is San Francisco’s only pier that can support direct unloading of materials from ships to railroad cars for further transportation and distribution of goods. Fans will have noticed diverse food stalls and bar booths spread throughout the festival’s grounds and the same goes for other amenities such as merchandise stands, medical tents, lockers, and restrooms.
Stages of the 2023 edition
The four stages of this year’s Portola Music Festival all provided fantastic music from multiple artists of various styles of music. The four stages of Portola Music Festival 2023 were Crane Stage, Ship Stage, Warehouse, and the main Pier Stage. Crane Stage is located in front of the pier’s longstanding shipyard crane and nearby Ship Stage established itself in front of a large US Navy ship. Meanwhile, Warehouse is the stage inside the pier’s large warehouse that many Tech House and Techno fans, especially fans of Dark Techno, are starting to love. Last but not least, the Pier Stage provided fans with headlining acts that performed unforgettable sets and performances.
The memorable artists at the festival’s Day 1
Crane Stage on Day 1 (Sept. 30) witnessed delightful sets from artists like Chromeo, SBTRKT, Cobrah, and Flying Lotus. On that same day, Ship Stage got to see House, Indie, and Electro-R&B stars like Dom Dolla, Major Lazer B2B Major League DJZ, Jai Paul, Purple Disco Machine, and Underworld excite the fans.
Upon entering the Warehouse on Day 1, it felt like entering top-notch warehouse raves in Berlin, London, and Sydney when listening to gnarly producers like LF System, DJ Koze, and Chris Lake as he did a B2B set with the legendary Armand Van Helden. As for the Pier Stage, Pop and Electronic music stars such as FKJ, Nelly Furtado, Polo & Pan, and Eric Prydz turned up the volume. Regarding Prydz himself, he brought his now-famous HOLO production to the Portola Music Festival crowd as they were awe-struck at the visuals that the production provided on that night.
Day 2 enhanced the atmosphere
As Day 2 started, many fans reentering festival grounds were still amazed by the music they got to listen live from the previous day. Crane Stage on Day 2 saw artists such as Azzecca, Masego, the old-school lads of Basement Jaxx, and The Blaze uplift the great vibes of that area of the festival. Ship Stage hosted artists like Kavinsky, Kenny Beats, and Little Dragon as they amazingly merged various genres into grand musical styles that everyone definitely enjoyed listening to. The Warehouse stage really provided a world-class warehouse rave atmosphere as top electronic music superstars, past and present, like Bonobo, Belgian techno superstar Charlotte De Witte, and the phenomenal house legend that is Carl Cox played out very superb sets that made the Warehouse shook for hours.
As for the Pier Stage itself on Day 2, music talents who are rising, trending, and/or phenomenally superb with names like Thundercat, Rina Sawayama, Labrinth, and Skrillex himself really completed this 2023 edition of Portola Music Festival. When Skrillex came on for the last set of Pier Stage, the crowd went wild with gleeful delight. When he played tracks like ‘Rumble‘ and ‘Badders‘, the fans went on a joint massive “dance-and-sing-a-along” as they vibed to the beats. Concurrently, standing at the stage area of the Pier Stage when Skrillex performed can make the fans feel like they’re back in 2011 again, listening to Skrillex for the first time.
The second edition of Portola Music Festival went very well and learned a few lessons from last year’s edition, particularly when it comes to balancing sound levels and ensuring perfect spaces between the performers and the fans. When observing the whole area of Portola Music Festival, one can see the skyline of San Francisco in the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay itself and wondering which new, exciting music festival will establish itself in the “City by the Bay”. Hopefully perhaps in next year’s edition of the festival (or future editions), the food options can be cheaper and/or the festival become a three-day extravaganza, just like internationally-renowned festivals such as Ultra Music Festival and EDC. Listen to the official Portola Spotify playlist to look back on or transport oneself back to this weekend’s very cool festival.