It rains a lot in Portland. This spring was especially bad, with a late-May stretch that featured more hailstorms than sun showers. But I know the real reason we all live here: the summer months, when it seems like nothing in the world can beat sitting on the lawn at McMenamins Edgefield watching your favorite band play in the glorious sun. To celebrate the beginning of summer, I've rounded up a list of the best outdoor concerts in and around town. Leave the umbrella at home, guys.
June 25-Aug. 28: Summer Concerts at the Oregon Zoo
The annual series always has a great lineup, and this year is no different, with affordable shows by Afrobeat legend Femi Kuti, the son of Fela Kuti (Friday, July 2); reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff, star of The Harder They Come (Friday, July 23); and The Band drummer Levon Helm's band, the Levon Helm Band (Sunday, Aug. 8). 4001 SW Canyon Road, oregonzoo.org/Concerts. $11-$39.50.
June 25-26: No.Fest
If there's any area of Portland that deserves its own music festival, it's St. Johns. For the third straight year, No.Fest combines some of the best experimental music in town (Rollerball, Billygoat) with an increased emphasis on jazz and world music, plus an early-bird children's show. North Lombard Street between Charleston and Baltimore avenues, nofest.net.
June 30-Sept. 1: Music on Main Street
Portland Center for Performing Art's urban outdoor concert series closes Main Street between Southwest Broadway and Park Avenue every Wednesday for free, family-friendly entertainment, including performances by Tony Furtado (July 7), Freak Mountain Ramblers (Aug. 11) and Dr. Theopolis (Aug. 18). 1111 SW Broadway, pcpa.com/events. Free.
July 2: Lilith Fair
The '90s will never, ever die. Case in point: the Lilith Fair, an all-female traveling festival that was estrogen's answer to Lollapalooza, is back for the first time in 11 years. Organizer Sarah McLachlan once again headlines, but the local stop (located at the venue formerly known as the Clarke County, now Sleep Country, Amphitheater, 20 minutes north of Portland) also features Sheryl Crow and the queen of weird hip-hop, Erykah Badu. 17200 NE Delfel Road, Ridgefield, Wash., lilithfair.com. $12.25-$750.
July 2-5: Waterfront Blues Fest at Tom McCall Waterfront Park
I know it's hard to brave the lines and swarming packs of soccer moms, but the Waterfront Blues Fest is worth it just to see Taj Mahal and Booker T. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Southwest Naito Parkway between Harrison and Glisan streets. waterfrontbluesfest.com. $35-$250.
July 16-18: Northwest String Summit
Do you like acoustic guitars? How about listening to a bunch of the area's best string bands in a picturesque setting? The Northwest String Summit returns for its eight year at the gorgeous tree-lined landscape of Horning's Hideout in North Plains with three days of music featuring Yonder Mountain String Band, Danny Barnes and the Infamous String Dusters. Bring the kids to this one! 21277 NW Brunswick Canyon Road, North Plains, stringsummit.com. $100-$155, kids 10 and under free.
July 30-Aug. 1: PDX Pop Now! at Rotture (inside and outside stages)
The best free, all-ages, all-local festival returns for its seventh year. 315 SE 3rd Ave., pdxpopnow.com. FREE.
Aug. 6-8: Pickathon at Pendarvis Farm
Tired of seeing music in the city? The roots music festival—located on 80 acres of lush meadow and forested campgrounds less than an hour outside of Portland—lets Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Dr. Dog play amid the pines. 16581 SE Hagen Road, Happy Valley, pickathon.com. $130-$140.
Sept. 3: Pavement at McMenamins Edgefield
Reunited indie-rock heroes finally play in frontman Stephen Malkmus' adopted hometown. I'll be the guy crying hysterically in the front row. 2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, mcmenamins.com. $39 in advance.
Sept. 11: The National, The Decemberists at MusicFestNW
For the first time in the festival's 10-year history, MFNW is going outside, with two shows in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Brooklyn's critically lauded art-rockers the National headline Saturday, Sept. 11, and local folk-rock ensemble the Decemberists preview their new album Sunday, Sept. 12. 715 SW Morrison St., musicfestnw.com. $65-$195