One year after merging with MusicfestNW, the Project Pabst festival is returning to Portland, Ore., with headliners Iggy Pop, Beck and rapper Nas set to perform in front of 10,000 people per day at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Aug. 26-27.
Launched in Portland in 2014, Project Pabst has expanded to three other cities -- Denver, Philadelphia and Atlanta -- all markets where the beer maker has traditionally enjoyed strong sales. Last year Project Pabst Portland merged with the long-running MusicfestNW to create one of the city's largest 21-and-over-festivals. Besides its trademark $3 Pabst 16-ounce tallboys, this year's fest also includes performances by Father John Misty, Spoon, Die Antwoord as well as newcomers Lizzo, Noname and Frankie Cosmos.
While Pabst launched the festival with the help of promoter Superfly, the Portland event is now booked by MusicfestNW booker Trevor Soloman of Crash Line Productions. Soloman also books Boston Calling. Project Pabst Denver, which is being headlined by Ice Cube, Phantogram, Danny Brown and Kurt Vile, was booked by AEG Live Rocky Mountains. The Philadelphia festival is being booked by AEG Presents/Electric Factory while Atlanta is booked by Rival Entertainment. Lineups for Atlanta and Philadelphia will be announced later this summer.
"Portland has been our number one market for sales going on 17 years now," explains Pabst national brand ambassador Matt Slessler, adding that he wanted to create a festival that matched Pabst's blue collar, working man identity.
"We don't even have a VIP area, where there's the haves and have nots. Everybody is equal at Project Pabst," he tells Billboard. "If someone spends their hard earned money to buy a ticket and loves the bands that are playing, then they should get the same experience as everybody else."
Besides music and cheap beer, festival-goers will have an opportunity to snap a selfie with the Project Pabst's mascot -- a giant 30-foot unicorn whose horn regularly lights up. There's also an old-school video game arcade and a recording studio called Pabst Wax where attendees can create an on-the-spot vinyl record of themselves and their friends.
Slessler said Project Pabst could expand in future years as the company finds new ways to connect with its customers.
"We didn't want to just keep it on the West Coast," Slessler says. "We went to places like Philly and Atlanta who have long supported Pabst Blue Ribbon and have these great 'dive bar' aesthetics. There's a grittier vibe to these cities that fit with the ethos of Pabst Blue Ribbon."