Thoughts on the Upcoming Vortex 2 in Portland

In recent weeks, I have received multiple angry emails and text messages alerting me to an event called Vortex 2, scheduled for Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park Saturday, Sunday May 27, 28. KINK radio is sponsoring the event.

The description and musical lineup comes from KINKs’s web site: After all these years Vortex is back. Vortex. It was the Biodegradable Music Festival of Life that drew some 100,000 concert goers to McIver Park in August 1970. Vortex 2, two days of the celebration of live music and great vibes at (Tom McCall) Waterfront Park!

See 8 bands on Saturday for $21 and come out Sunday for another 5 bands for just $15 (includes KINK Live 18 Digital Download with $5 going to Shriners Hostpitals for Children). $10 for Sunday’s show without the digital download. Catch them all on the Beaverton Honda Stage. Concert tickets include admission to City Fair.

Saturday | May 27th



El Ten Eleven

Fruit Bats

Small Leaks Sink Ships



Sunday | May 28th

Meekoh Martinez

Brian Harrison and The Last Draw

American Idol’s Haley Johnsen

Tyler Conti and the Hit Factory

Partick Lamb’ Tribute to Earth Wind and Fire

Yes, Vortex 2 will cost money to attend, feature a performer from American Idol, and the Beaverton Honda Stage will promote the purchase of automobiles. Vortex 2 sounds like the ultimate parody and antithesis of Vortex I.

The gist of all my communications received about Vortex 2 was: Matt, please speak up about this desecration of Vortex I’s ideals. You wrote the far out book on it. You are its curator.

I was its curator. That’s all over now, so this blog post will have to suffice. I suggest everyone in Oregon become Vortex I’s curator. Do what you can do to raise awareness about the shameless commercial exploitation of a unique event in American history that featured free attendance and was staged to prevent violence during the height of protest against the Vietnam War and the criminality of Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Vortex 2 is a travesty, of course, but the event itself portends something ominous for Oregon’s future. That a Portland radio station would rip off the name of Vortex to promote its weekend concert suggests no one employed there knew the least authentic thing about Vortex I. They had no idea or didn’t care. They would trade off the name and make money. Everyone would celebrate life and pay money for the privilege of doing so on the banks of the Willamette River. I wonder if any of the bands know anything about Vortex, either.

There are so many recent transplants to Oregon, particularly Portland, and these newcomers simply have no institutional memory of anything that helped turn modern Oregon into one of the more desirable places to live in the country. The absence of that knowledge makes exploitation easy, almost inevitable.

Are our public beaches next? You can already see it coming in proposals to ban smoking and alcohol from the beaches. One can almost see the day when Starbucks Presents Oswald West State Park.

It behooves all of us who care about the unique qualities of Oregon to become its curator and curate all the time. I’m certainly removed from the public profile I once had to curate and protect. But I will keep trying in my own little ways.

A final comment on Vortex 2. Attendees won’t have to contend with some of the issues that arose at Vortex I, such as an anaconda on the loose, cougar on a leash, a hot dog vendor wearing only a red balloon on his penis, undercover law enforcement authorities and Red Cross officials giving away drugs, mass nudity, a sauna, tepees, and so much, much more. (Photo by Lee Meier)