It’s hard to imagine anything that’s more overhyped and underwhelming than a summer festival in SoCal. Sure, we know it’s a tough thing to admit, considering we seem so spoiled here. But deep down, even the douchiest EDM bro knows there’s more to life than the same old trip year after year. Fests from FYF to EDC all tend to look, sound and smell the same year after year, no matter who is playing.
Instead, why not venture to a place that’s less than a 15-hour drive away but feels like a world apart? Welcome to a state that harbors a full season of festivals of all stripes, most of which are embedded in more lush, green nature in a single weekend than the average OC suburbanite gets to see in a year. And for you lily-white masochists who love burning alive in the Indio sun, imagine what a few million trees would do for you and your peeling, beet-red epidermis? By now, it should be clear what any self-respecting OC festival-goer should do: Get yer ass to Oregon!
Whether you’re a bluegrass hillbilly, a colorful kandi kid or a Portola-pounding hipster with lumberjack whiskers, Oregon is the Mecca of festivals in the Pacific Northwest. And we don’t just mean Portland. There are plenty of opportunities to get faded and frolicking in the forest with a bunch of mighty fine people all over the state. Here’s a brief list of the festivals you need to travel to if you expect to do Oregon right this summer.
WHAT THE FESTIVAL
June 17-20. Wolf Run Ranch, Dufur, Oregon; whatthefestival.com.
The Vibe: Think LiB in the middle of a forest (with a stellar view of Mount Hood!). Electronic-centric lineup and a crowd of colorful yogis willing to pass a joint, share their yoga mat and dance all night long.
Top Acts: Thievery Corporation, Bonobo, Lettuce, Claude Vonstroke.
Tickets: Basic pass, $275; festival and camping passes are separate.
WATEFRONT BLUES FEST
July 1-4. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon; www.waterfrontbluesfest.com.
The Vibe: Lawn-chair lounging while listening to legends squeeze every ounce of struggle and strife out of their instruments during a laid-back day on the lake. Affordable tickets and 4th of July fireworks—not bad considering it’s technically Portland’s biggest music festival (which also doubles as a fundraiser for the Oregon Food Bank).
Top Acts: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Curtis Salgado, Maceo Parker, JJ Grey and Mofro, Jimmie Vaughan & the Tilt-a-Whirl Band featuring Lou Ann Barton, ZZ Ward, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.
OREGON COUNTRY FAIR
July 8-10. Veneta, Oregon; www.oregoncountryfair.com.
The Vibe: A very different kind of fair than you’re used to—very hippie-oriented, with loads of performance art to go with its extensive lineup of jam bands. No Ferris wheel—all the trees in the way probably wouldn’t allow it—but also a lot fewer assholes.
Top Acts: Dumpstaphunk Afrolicious, Marchfourth!, Shook Twins.
Camping: Not on-site, but available through neighborhood campgrounds; more details can be found online.
Tickets: Three-day pass, $68; other tickets available.
NORTHWEST STRING SUMMIT
July 14-17. Horning’s Hideout, North Plains, Oregon; stringsummit.com.
The Vibe: This is three days of Valhalla for Americana, jam and bluegrass fans: an acoustic-centric weekend that has become an annual stop for the scene’s active artists. And the serene forest and the lakeside splendor of Horning’s Hideout transports you to a simpler time.
Top Acts: Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, the Infamous Stringdusters.
Tickets: $225, includes camping.
July 15-16. Pat’s Acres Racing Complex, Canby, Oregon; harefest.com.
The Vibe: A stable full of tribute bands paying homage to classic-rock acts that already feel like tribute bands anyway. Same songs for about a quarter of the price tag! And there’s plenty of room to spin around on the grass with a beer in your hand until you fall on your ass.
Top Acts: Stone In Love (Journey), Aerosmith Rocks (Aerosmith), Steelhorse (Bon Jovi), Appetite for Deception (Guns N’ Roses) Barracuda (Heart), Shoot to Thrill (AC/DC).
Tickets: $100 (includes camping); single-day and other passes available.
July 29-31. Sweet Home, Oregon; 0x000Aoregonjamboree.com.
The Vibe: The Stagecoach of the Pacific Northwest. Pop/country’s best and brightest play for a crowd with a whole lotta yee-haw. A firm reminder that outside of Portland, Oregon is definitely a cowboy stronghold.
Top Acts: Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith.
Tickets: General admission, $140; camping, $130; other tickets available.
CAPE BLANCO COUNTRY FESTIVAL
July 29-31. Sixes, Oregon; 0x000Acapeblancofestival.com.
The Vibe: A taste of country comes to the Oregon coast from the folks behind the Bi-Mart Willamette Country Music Festival.
Top Acts: Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Kenny Chesney.
Tickets: $130; camping passes sold separately (and sold out).
Aug. 5-7. Pendarvis Farm, Happy Valley, Oregon; pickathon.com.
The Vibe: This rootsy, indie festival is a sure thing for music discovery (and hipster discovery!), with seven beautiful stages and festival food and drink you won’t regret scarfing between bands. Also one of the cleanest/greenest fests in the country. It’s one of the few festivals that can pull off cool and family-friendly.
Top Acts: Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Yo La Tengo, Beach House, Wolf Parade reunion show.
Tickets: Three-day pass (includes camping), $290; single-day tickets and parking passes available.
BI-MART WILLAMETTE COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Aug. 12-14. Brownsville, Oregon; www.willamettemusicfest.frontgatetickets.com.
The Vibe: Another heaping slice of heartland on the West Coast. Definitely bring a lawn chair.
Top Acts: Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert.
Tickets: Basic pass, $150; festival and camping passes sold separately.
MUSICFESTNW PRESENTS PROJECT PABST
Aug. 27-28. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon; portland.projectpabst.com.
The Vibe: Rock & roll meets hipster day drinking in the heart of Portland, with a mix of flashback rock acts and hip Coachella-esque openers. Look for club shows this year, too, including Guided By Voices and Digable Planets.
Top Acts: Tame Impala, Duran Duran, Ice Cube, Ween.
Tickets: Weekend admission, $90; per day, $55; club shows sold separately.