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Interview: Christina Fuller, The Lot Summer Music Festival Creator On Bringing Back Live Music In Portland

We chat with Christina Fuller, owner of Fuller Events and organizer/creator of The Lot at Zidell Yards.
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This weekend, Portland, Oregon will come alive with some live music. The Lot Summer Music Festival, a two-day event will take place from August 14-15, 2021 at The Lot at Zidell Yards, a new outdoor venue on Portland’s SW waterfront. The lineup for Saturday night ranges from soul to pop and features DJ Cuan, Pure Bathing Culture, People Music Showcase, and Blitzen Trapper. Sunday’s vibe will have a Latin and R&B feel with DJ Mami Miami, The Barbaras, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, and Parisalexa. 

While the Lot has been hosting movies, individual music acts, and other happenings over the summer, this event marks one of Portland’s first live in-person music festival since March 2020. In anticipation of this event, I had an email chat with Christina Fuller, owner of Fuller Events and organizer/creator of The Lot at Zidell Yards, about the logistics of launching this event during the same time that Oregon reinstates a COVID mandate requiring everyone to wear a mask indoors.

What prompted you to design pod patio-style seating pods?

The site plan and concept for The Lot was built with safety as our top priority, including our super fun patio-style seating pods. We knew that the return to live music and events would look different. We took into account best practices and safety standards that we learned through the pandemic (social-distancing, spending time outside instead of inside, and gallons of hand sanitizer) and integrated it into the sight design. Each seating pod is socially-distanced and designed for "quaran-teams" of up to 6 people, which allows fans to enjoy the show within their own comfort zone and still be able to get up and dance with their friends.

Why did you choose this route?

We started working on the concept of The Lot back in November, before we truly knew what the roll out of the vaccination would look like. So, we created a venue that was intentionally built with Covid safety in mind. We also wanted to create a really unique and new-to-Portland experience, where it’s more than just a show.

The safety of our fans, artists and crew has always been our top priority, and we felt that this wasn’t the summer to try and rush back to "normal." There’s a tremendous responsibility that goes with this, and we wanted to be mindful that folks have different comfort levels of getting back out in the world. We think the space created at The Lot really provides an amazing and safe experience for everybody.

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Any unique challenges organizing a festival like this where we have to remain apart and not together in a mosh pit?

Of course. And yet, we’ve found that guests at The Lot this summer have really been digging their own private space to hang with their crew. After too many GA shows where you’re stuck in the middle of a sea of people, we’ve received countless compliments from fans who actually prefer this new way to experience a show. We’ve basically built them a private cabana. And people are obviously still dancing in their pod, so we haven’t lost that.

What reactions have you gotten from the musicians and the fans?

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Musicians have been grateful, excited and a few are actually nervous! After a year and a half of no shows, playing for a live crowd is a whole different ball game. Musicians have been pumped to play The Lot and are super grateful to those that are finding a safe way to bring back live music. It’s quite cool to see bands walk on the stage for the first time in 15 plus months and just have a moment - a moment that I can only imagine feels like an exciting and emotional return to doing what they love.

How did you choose this particular festival lineup?

Portland and the Pacific Northwest is filled with so much talent, and we wanted to take a weekend to celebrate that. Louise Woodward, our music programmer, has curated a diverse, thoughtful and frankly, super fun line-up for this weekend with a little bit of something for everyone. Something I love about music festivals is the element of discovery, and I think folks this weekend may be introduced to new favorites, in addition to the bands they already know and love.

Do you view your setup as a temporary measure or a new way of enjoying music?

I actually see this as a new way to enjoy music, moving forward. Coming off 2020, people really have an increased appreciation for the entire experience of live music, including the setting, the scene, the atmosphere, all the way down to the seating. Music is for everyone, and there are plenty of formats to experience music, but I think increased focus on the fan experience will be (and should be) here to stay.

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Lineup and Ticket Information

Sat, Aug 14 - Festival Day 1

Kicking things off with the soul-drenched beats with Fritzwa, glassy dream pop with Pure Bathing Culture, a showcase from People Music, one of Portland’s most exciting music collectives, featuring Lo Steele, Rasheed Jamal, Kiho, Danielle Barker, Blossom, Noah Simpson, and a glorious return to the stage with Portland’s roots-rock heroes Blitzen Trapper.

Sun, Aug 15 - Festival Day 2

The Lot welcomes the Latinx powered dance vibes of DJ Mami Miami, the toe tapping, guitar strumming tunes of Sallie Ford’s newest project, The Barbaras, the ecstatic thump and frenetic rhythms of Orquestra Pacifico Tropical and the self-empowered, R&B anthems of Parisalexa.

Choose from an afternoon show from 12-4PM or an evening show from 6-10PM. Tickets are Tickets: $60 GA and $75 VIP. Shows are all-ages and tickets are sold as sets of 2, 4 or 6 depending on the pod selected at purchase. Connect with The Lot at Zidell Yards on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for the latest news and discount ticket codes. 

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