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How Pabst Blue Ribbon Will Revive Its Portland Music Fest

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Reviving a music festival that last rocked Portland, Ore., in 2017, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer jumps feet-first into the post-pandemic experiential wave with a two-day event coming this summer featuring Billy Idol, T-Pain, Violent Femmes, Big Thief and numerous local favorites.

After a successful four-year run—and expansion to Denver, Atlanta and Philadelphia—the brand retired the outdoor concert, dubbed Project Pabst, to focus on less-labor-intensive ways to hype the blue-collar bargain beer.

But the current heady environment for live events, along with fan and partner interest, helped convince executives to bring it back. Project Pabst will be a centerpiece of the brand’s marketing this year, along with promos around its 180th anniversary.

PBR is resurrecting Project Pabst for a two-day run in July.Pabst Blue Ribbon

“Not a year has gone by that there hasn’t been a conversation about the event,” PBR’s brand director, Rachel Keeton, told ADWEEK. “It just kept rising to the top.”

Project Pabst, reserved for consumers 21 and older, will host 20 bands across two stages, with no overlapping set times to avoid “noise bleed” and FOMO (fear of missing out), Keeton said. Tickets go on sale today, costing $115 per day, and organizers expect as many as 20,000 people to head to Waterfront Park along the picturesque Willamette River July 27 and 28.

“We were really mindful of the fee structure as the cost of everything, including seeing your favorite band, just keeps going up,” Keeton said. “And we’re trying to make this event as welcoming as possible, thinking about consumer pain points.”

PBR’s ground zero

Pabst can trace its music bona fides to partnerships with the Tied Down hardcore festival in Detroit, punk label Pure Noise Records and various artists and tours going back decades. Throwing its own event wasn’t a stretch, with Keeton noting many artists and music fans on the staff, but it was a massive undertaking.

As in prior years, Project Pabst 2024 chose an eclectic lineup of hip-hop, rock, indie and alternative musical acts.Pabst Blue Ribbon

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