In June of 2003, two good friends, Scott McLean and Jarkko Cain, with help from many amazing pals and a wonderful staff, opened Holocene in a warehouse in Portland’s inner SE industrial district. The neighborhood was sleepy; the space, after 9 months of DIY sweat and tears, was soaring but still quite raw. The vision was to bring beautiful, oddball electronic music to a city that lacked that kind of dance club – but that scope broadened quickly. Five years in, a young booker named Gina Altamura joined the fold and began curating a very special array of innovative Portland musicians, multimedia arts events, and emerging artists from around the country and globe. Twenty years from our opening night and countless evolutions of our space, technology, and programming — these three along with an amazing crew continue to push Holocene into the future.
In our first two decades, Holocene has hosted a huge range of events — from house and techno parties with legendary DJs, to a universe of vibrant Portland bands, to modern indie stars from around the world, to R&B and hip-hop icons. From the thousands of nights, a few highlights include:
SZA, Billie Eilish, Vampire Weekend, Thomas Fehlmann, Deerhunter, Grizzly Bear, Justice, Ratatat, Dirty Projectors, M83, Bon Iver (ahem, “Holocene”), Tune-Yards, Autechre, The Raincoats, PM Dawn, Fleet Foxes, Warpaint, Goldie, MGMT, Ellen Allien, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Grimes, Shellac, Iron & Wine, Acid Mothers Temple, ODESZA…
We’ve hosted site-specific modern dance, and curated live film scores for Stalker, Black Orpheus, and Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. We’ve hosted musicians cooking for their fans, and puppeteers crafting original puppet shows for bands. We’ve hosted local non-profit fundraisers, nationally renowned podcasts, storytelling events, and live beat-making contests.
Holocene always strives to show off the music that excites us most, to welcome in guest curators from across our community, and to put on unique, multidimensional events that couldn’t happen at any other venue in town. And of course: to bring the craziest and best dance parties every single weekend.
To celebrate 20 years, we’ve put together a series of events to showcase some of our very favorite artists from near and far — visionaries who inspire us, and those local loves who warm our hearts and make us proud. Our Anniversary Week of shows happens June 7th, 8th, and 9th — and we’ll also have a very special satellite event on May 30th to kick things off.