The best bands to see at Portola, San Francisco's newest music festival

Dan Snaith of Caribou performs on day five of Sziget Festival 2022 on August 14, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.

Dan Snaith of Caribou performs on day five of Sziget Festival 2022 on August 14, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.

Joseph Okpako/WireImage

Between Hardly Strictly, Outside Lands, Stern Grove and Noise Pop, San Francisco's music festivals have something for almost everyone. But for many electronic music fans, the offerings at these events tend to be slim pickings as they typically feature up-and-coming pop stars, indie stalwarts and bluegrass pickers dominating the stages.

Portola Festival, happening Saturday and Sunday at Pier 80, offers a reprieve from rock music with a packed lineup of electronic-leaning acts, yet still casts a wide net in terms of genre. Legacy headliners like Fatboy Slim and Chemical Brothers offer a chance for many younger listeners to do their DJ homework. Crossover success stories like James Blake and Kaytranada are big enough names to score big fonts on even the Outside Lands flyer. And producers with rabid fanbases who haven't quite broken through like Bicep still get appropriately high billing.

Here are our favorite acts playing this?weekend, ranging from underground DJs to some of the biggest alternative pop stars in the world.

Sofia Kourtesis performs at Wide Awake Festival at Brockwell Park on May 27, 2022 in London, England.

Sofia Kourtesis performs at Wide Awake Festival at Brockwell Park on May 27, 2022 in London, England.

Lorne Thomson/Redferns

Sofia Kourtesis

Saturday, 3 p.m., Crane tent

A set slated for the middle of the afternoon is often the opportunity for artist discovery. No other performer at Portola’s inaugural year deserves fresh ear canals quite like Sofia Kourtesis. The Berlin-via-Lima house producer and singer emerged with last year’s “Fresia Magdalena.” The EP is lush with mid-tempo rhythms that color the spaces between beats with vibrant samples of field recordings she captured in Peru around her family’s seaside neighborhood Magdalena. The ocean — particularly its restorative properties — guided Kourtesis on her album, which she crafted as a tribute to her mother Fresia who was a prominent neighborhood activist. The EP’s opening track, “La Perla,” stands out with its refreshing tranquility. According to Kourtesis, “‘La Perla’ is about staring at the sea. It's the first thing I’ll do when I return to Peru. My dad used to say staring at the sea is like meditation, it clears your head.” Center your Sunday afternoon with this opaline opus. — Silas Valentino

Robbie Chater, Spank Rock, Eliza Wolfgramm and Tony Di Blasi of The Avalanches perform at O2 Forum Kentish Town on June 21, 2017 in London, England.

Robbie Chater, Spank Rock, Eliza Wolfgramm and Tony Di Blasi of The Avalanches perform at O2 Forum Kentish Town on June 21, 2017 in London, England.

Burak Cingi/Redferns

The Avalanches

Saturday, 4:45 p.m., Pier stage

When it comes to sampling, few artists in history have dug as deep — and as wide — as the Australian duo the Avalanches. Their 2000 opus “Since I Left You” was a true crate-diggers Rosetta Stone composed of an estimated 3500 samples. They then disappeared for 16 years before reemerging with 2016’s “Wildflower” and 2020’s “We Will Always Love You,” two LPs crammed with enough guest stars to fill a Grammys after-party (although it’s up for debate whether Rivers Cuomo really needed to be invited). The late afternoon Saturday timeslot is a perfect fit for the Avalanches’ sunny sample-scapes, and it will likely be one of the day's most uplifting sets. — Dan Gentile

Caroline Polachek performs during All Points East festival at Victoria Park on August 25, 2022 in London, England.

Caroline Polachek performs during All Points East festival at Victoria Park on August 25, 2022 in London, England.

Burak Cingi/Redferns

Caroline Polachek

Saturday, 5 p.m., Ship tent

Charli XCX’s frequent collaborator Caroline Polachek will also be performing at Portola’s inaugural festival. Before becoming a singer-songwriter herself with tracks big enough to start TikTok trends, Polachek was writing and producing music for major artists, even earning a Grammy for her work on Beyonce’s 2014 self-titled album. While she has an extensive song catalog to choose from for her set on Saturday, one could wager she won’t play “RIP Harambe,” an ill-fated 2019 collaboration with billionaire-turned-one-time-rapper Elon Musk. — Gabe Lehman

Charli XCX opens the show for Taylor Swift at NRG Stadium Saturday Sept.29, 2018.
Charli XCX opens the show for Taylor Swift at NRG Stadium Saturday Sept.29, 2018.Dave Rossman/Contributor

Charli XCX

Saturday, 6:50, Warehouse stage

Charli XCX first gained major popularity after being featured on two of the biggest songs of the early 2010’s: Iggy Azalea's “Fancy” and Icona Pop’s “I Don’t Care.” In the ensuing years, she’s become a bona fide pop star in her own right with hits like “Boom Clap” and “Boys.” With lyrics that can go from winking to downright profane, XCX delivers her hits with the confidence of someone who’s never not been the coolest kid in the room. The British singer’s fans - the “Charli’s Angels” - are as devoted as any fandom and their passion alone will make Charli XCX’s set a can’t miss performance. — Gabe Lehman

Dan Snaith of Caribou performs during All Points East festival at Victoria Park on August 25, 2022 in London, England.

Dan Snaith of Caribou performs during All Points East festival at Victoria Park on August 25, 2022 in London, England.

Burak Cingi/Redferns

Caribou

Saturday, 7:15 p.m., Ship stage

Electronic music has long been a genre defined by singles, but Caribou’s Dan Snaith is the rare master of the LP. His breakup album “Our Love” feels like a journey through the sad ruins of a relationship, soundtracked by emotive synth stabs and propulsive drum machines. He's a hero to many bedroom producers, but one of the few acts at the festival who travels with a full band, incorporating dueling live drummers to punctuate an arsenal of synthesizers. — Dan Gentile

Eug?

Sunday, 12:35, Warehouse stage

Although both DJ Shadow and Toro y Moi rep the Bay Area, the schedule on the main stages is a bit light on San Francisco-based performers. Alongside ubiquitous promoter DJ Dials, the only other San Franciscan on the lineup is Eugene Whang, a polymath who works as a designer at Apple by day and party starter at night. Eug’s monthly residency at Bar Part Time has quickly become one of the most popular nights in the city (and the only one where James Murphy might show up as a surprise guest). Expect a tasteful selection of house tunes, including a few from his own label Public Release Records. — Dan Gentile

Motor City Drum Ensemble performs onstage during day 2 of FYF Fest 2017 at Exposition Park on July 22, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Motor City Drum Ensemble performs onstage during day 2 of FYF Fest 2017 at Exposition Park on July 22, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Natt Lim

Danilo Plessow

Sunday, 4:00 p.m., Crane tent

The artist formerly known as Motor City Drum Ensemble stopped by San Francisco in March for a rowdy set of piano-house and disco edits at 1015 Folsom, and was spotted getting down at the legendary daytime party Hard French the following afternoon at El Rio. It’s been over a decade since he dropped his last “Raw Cuts” single, but there are few artists since who’ve matched the perfection of those sample-heavy house tracks. This will likely be the most Shazammed set of the weekend (but hopefully there won't be any rewinds). — Dan Gentile

Yaeji performs at the 2019 Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on August 9, 2019.

Yaeji performs at the 2019 Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on August 9, 2019.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGate.com

Yaeji

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., Pier stage

The Korean-American DJ and producer dubbed “the raver next door” by Fader got her start hosting DIY parties in Williamsburg called “Curry in No Hurry,” where she’d actually bring a pot of Japanese food to share with the crowd. She's carried that quirky aesthetic with her mercurial rise, maintaining an authentic voice when she could've easily fallen into the "business techno" pitfall of some of her peers. As a result, her single "Raingurl" has clocked in at 79 million Spotify listens, with legions of fans drawn to her understated party-starting lyrics and subtle house beats. — Dan Gentile

Kelly Lee Owens performs at Alexandra Palace Park on July 16, 2022 in London, England.

Kelly Lee Owens performs at Alexandra Palace Park on July 16, 2022 in London, England.

Lorne Thomson/Redferns

Kelly Lee Owens

Sunday, 4:40 p.m., Warehouse stage

Welsch electronic artist Kelly Lee Owens refuses to be put in a box. The solo performer’s latest album, “LP.8,” starts with industrial blasts of noise in “Release,” shifts into dreamy ambient chimes on “Anadlu,” then to a poignant ballad (“Nana Piano”) and back to blistering noise on “Sonic 8.” The album is a harsh departure from her moody Radiohead cover of “Arpeggi” and the dancefloor workout of “Jeanette,” but whatever direction Owens plans to take her set at Portola, it will likely be one of the most memorable. — Dan Gentile

Josh Davis, better known as DJ Shadow, presenting his new album " The Mountain Will Fall", during the second day of Sonar Music Festival on June 16, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.

Josh Davis, better known as DJ Shadow, presenting his new album " The Mountain Will Fall", during the second day of Sonar Music Festival on June 16, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.

Joan Cros Garcia - Corbis via Getty Images

DJ Shadow

Sunday, 5:35 p.m. Ship tent

Where better to spend the waning hours of sunshine than in the presence of DJ Shadow. Just your favorite DJ savior, Shadow sprang out of the campus radio station KDVS in his hometown of Davis in 1996 to produce the holy grail of trip hop sampledelia: “Endtroducing.....” The record is a mosaic of bombastic samples he sourced after years of determined digging across record stores in the Central Valley and Bay Area. The sonic kaleidoscopic daze invades the brain to either get you moving or start the tripping. DJ Shadow, born Josh Davis, could have simply stopped there and he’d remain a living legend. But thankfully he’s continued to mold sampling and rehash drumbeats for a never-ending future. From the country-western bravado “Nobody Speak” featuring Run The Jewels to the gorgeous shoulder waver “Scale It Back” that he recorded alongside Little Dragon, DJ Shadow has continuously made his music sound fresh and engaging, always worthy of a new introduction. — Silas Valentino

Toro y Moi perform at the 2019 Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on August 11, 2019.

Toro y Moi perform at the 2019 Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on August 11, 2019.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGate.com

Toro y Moi

Sunday, 6:10 p.m. Pier stage

The Bay Area has the unfortunate tendency to lose musicians, but Chaz Bear, the mastermind of Toro y Moi, defied the trend by planting himself in Oakland to establish a creative hub. He traded the East Coast for the East Bay and the electronic soul that’s poured out of him continues to embrace our region’s psychedelic inclinations. His summertime album “MAHAL,” released earlier this year, features the reverse guitar chiller “Déjà Vu”, a stone-cold groove that would have “Revolver”-era George Harrison perking up. Elsewhere, the track “Way Too Hot” pays homage to the bygone Madchester sound that drenched rock 'n' roll in pulsing acid. — Silas Valentino