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5 Things To Know About The Project Pabst Music Festival


Duran Duran takes the stage Saturday.

Duran Duran takes the stage Saturday.

Courtesy of Project Pabst

“Solstice ain’t as far as it used to be … Summer ain’t as long as it use to be. Everyday counts like crazy.” — Frank Ocean, Skyline To

This weekend, MusicFestNW presents Project Pabst, a celebration of music, art and the Rose City played against the backdrop of a fast-dwindling summer.

An eclectic lineup including Duran Duran, Ice Cube, Ween, Tame Impala, A$AP Ferg and Kyle Craft plays at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on Friday and Saturday. Comedy performances and night shows, featuring the likes of Y La Bamba and Summer Cannibals, begin Thursday.

As the Pacific Northwest looks to desperately live it up these last grand summer weekends, here are five things to know about the festival:

The Most Important Collaboration

What’s beef? MusicfestNW and Project Pabst decided it was time to join forces and create a mammoth musical experience. Both parties agree it was a smart decision.

“We realized we had good festivals, but we were competing against each other. We wanted to put on a good festival and felt the merger was best for everyone involved, including Portland itself,” said Matt Slessler, National Brand Ambassador of Pabst Blue Ribbon. 

Added MusicfestNW Operations Director Matt Manza, “It just made sense. It was a short conversation, really. We wanted to do this for Portland.”

Witness The Re-Rebirth Of Slick

Nostalgia will be “falling from the sky” Thursday night when two hip-hop acts from the 1990s return to the stage and redefine cool for the next generation. Bohemian talents Digable Planets have reunited and will headline a show at the Crystal Ballroom. Included on the bill is Camp Lo, who became cult favorites with their classic 1997 album, “Uptown Saturday Night.”

Cube Will Still Bring The Attitude 

At 19, O’Shea Jackson, aka Ice Cube, wrote one of the most important and controversial songs in American history: “F*ck The Police.” This Saturday, a 47-year-old Ice Cube takes the stage to perform a set that will include countless hits over his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career.

“It’s one of the most important bookings we’ve had because of the cultural relevance, [‘Straight Outta Compton’] coming out and the Hall of Fame induction. I think it’s going to be a powerful set,” Slessler said.

Ice Cube is expected to electrify the crowd during his Saturday performance.

Ice Cube is expected to electrify the crowd during his Saturday performance.

Courtesy of Project Pabst

Almost three decades after its release, N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” — with its heavy theme of police brutality — still rings loud. And with the #BlackLivesMatter movement staging demonstrations across the country, many Americans still empathize with that 19-year-old kid who, in 1988, wrote the unfortunately timeless lyric: “… got it bad cause I’m brown / And not the other color police think / They have the authority to kill a minority.” Every music festival has its moment, and Ice Cube performing this timeless work may be that crescendo.

Punk Is Alive 

Discovery is one of the biggest parts of summer music festivals. Here are three acts that may not be household names but may soon find themselves the favorites of thousands of festival-goers.

  • Tenement, out of Wisconsin, representing punk rock with a Midwest aesthetic. 
  • The Coathangers, out of Atlanta, Georgia, a trio of women rockers with five albums under their belt. These are godly punk rock veterans.
  • Sheer Mag, representing Philadelphia, could be defined as classic rock meets progressive punk. What makes Sheer Mag stand out? They have the voice of Tina Halladay up front — and others bands don’t.

No VIP Is The New VIP 

“We don’t have a VIP section at the festival,” Slessler said. “We wanted to connect with the fans and we want everyone to be equal.”

Another example of the elitist vibe being deconstructed is a Friday kickoff party featuring Portland’s own Mean Jeans and Vince Staples, a young artist on a rocket-ship rise. Punk, hip-hop, beer and all different types of people enjoying one another in a parking lot. What’s more American than that?

For the full lineup and set times, click here.

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