The pandemic may have been a chapter in of itself for Portland’s live EDM scene, but there is a new venue helping to rebuild and expand the city’s footprint. The North Warehouse, located in Northeast Portland near the Moda Center, is quickly becoming recognized as a place for high-quality events.
Pursuing a vision through the pandemic
Late 2019 looked like a different world for everyone, including Scott, who had just gotten the keys to what would become the North Warehouse. Although he’d been involved in the local EDM scene for a decade, he shaped local promotion agency King & Queen Presents became the owner of Lucky Rabbit Bartending, both of which would serve crucial for the venue.
But just as they mapped the blueprints for how to operationalize the venue, the pandemic hit and mass gatherings were entirely canceled. Although it would be terrifying for any entrepreneur to invest more heavily in their business when revenue generation seemed out of the timeline, their team marched ahead.
Despite a Christmas Eve burglary claiming power tools, they continued to build their vision. By the time they held their first shows in early summer 2021, the dream finally came to life.
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Unique space lends to a memorable experience
One of the quickest things you can see as soon as you walk into the venue is how big the space is. With a giant LED panel behind the stage, large lights towards the top of the building, and a full Funktion One sound system, it’s set up for killer production and it delivers. When Yotto took the stage and the booming sound had everyone moving, the light panel lit up full of moving stars, before the song dropped and pulsing blue lights took over.
Additionally, there’s a large outdoor area with another full stage setup underneath several tents. There’s a smaller dancing area, a food truck, tables to sit at, merchandise vendors, and a row of port-a-potties. Although there’s plenty of room to spread out and dance inside, it’s a great option to offer some air.
Usually, local DJ’s will perform at the outdoor stage. And they keep it going all night, until the end of the headliner at the main stage! Although the rain poured throughout the entirety of the show, we enjoyed getting a change of pace between the stages. The port-a-potties were also a major perk to skip the lines for the flushable toilets inside (and it gave us major camping at the Gorge vibes).
Building a strong team
Scott amassed a team of tight-knit operational staff who show a strong presence at events and beyond. Lighting technicians will walk around the venue with an iPad monitoring sound and light quality. Rachel, who manages their media, monitors feedback online and passes it directly to the rest of the team.
Although nestled into a relatively quiet industrial corner, parking can be limited and there is a reality of crime in the area. But the North Warehouse team opens their wall-length garage door and makes sure that patrons can safely exit and aren’t left hanging.
Harm reduction efforts set the North Warehouse apart
The Operations Manager, Molly, leads much of the core harm reduction principles baked into their events. If anyone has a concern or need during the show, they can text a number which allows their team to immediately address it. Staff members will stand at a balcony positioned over the crowd where they can also keep an eye on things from a higher perspective.
Additionally, there are two designated safety rooms where patrons who feel unwell, whether related to substances or not, can go. Instead of tossing people who may have overindulged, their staff will sit with the person.
They’ll determine what kind of support they may need, and that they have a way home after. Most importantly, they will ask if the patron put themselves in that state, or if immediate investigation and intervention may be required for the safety of others in cases of drugging.
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What’s to come at the North Warehouse?
If anything, we know that the future for the North Warehouse is bright. With an agile and talented team and impressive production, the vision to create a venue that people want to be at is a reality. Their first year of operation has been filled with much learning and growth, and we can’t wait to see how the venue transforms the Portland EDM scene.
For upcoming shows and general information about the North Warehouse, follow along on their social media.
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