2024 St. Johns Bizarre bigger, better

Thirteen pulsating bands, tangy food and a record-high 180 vendors are expected to draw nearly 10,000 people to the 15th annual St. Johns Bizarre 10 am to 7 pm, Saturday May 11 in the St. Johns town center. 

(See the event map and musical lineup at the end of this article)

The free event is one of Portland’s most popular street festivals and happens in historic downtown St. Johns amidst restaurants, bars, and retail shops. “The Bizarre has become a sort of ‘Bat Signal’ to the rest of Portland that, ‘hey, there’s a lot of cool things happening in St. Johns,’” said Bart Blasengame, owner of the Fixin’ To lounge.

St. Johns Bizarre food trucks
St. Johns Bizarre food trucks. Photo by Jason Quigley.

The music stages will feature an “All killer, no filler” lineup including national acts Team Dresch and Minus 5 on Saturday evening on the St. Johns Plaza stage, adjacent to the Occidental Brewing Beer Garden. Two blocks away, StormBreaker Brewing will sponsor the John Street music stage near the intersection with North Lombard Street.

The 2024 Bizarre will expand to ten city blocks stemming off Lombard onto North John, Leavitt and Burlington Streets and North Philadelphia Avenue by the Town Plaza.

The annual St. Johns Parade adds to the excitement starting at noon and proceeding on Lombard until 2 pm. After the parade ends, organizers will continue to keep Lombard closed to auto traffic between North Charleston and North Alta Avenues.

The Town Plaza stage will start at 10 am with kids’ entertainment including performers Triple Rainbow, Mr. Ben, and the KC Puppetree.

St. Johna Bizarre Band
Attendees listen to one of several bands. Photo by Jason Quigley.

The Bizarre is successfully coming off a transition year, returning in 2023 after two years of COVID cancellation. Last year organizers weren’t sure that audiences would surge back for the renewed Bizarre, but North Portlanders showed they were ready to party. “We were elated by how many people came,” said spokesman Ian Youngstrom.

That enthusiasm has continued as more vendors now want to participate in the Bizarre than organizers have room for, even with ten city blocks. “We’ve been able to become more selective than ever in picking high-quality vendors,” he said. That enables Bizarre leaders to specifically select outside vendors who won’t compete with existing St. Johns businesses. Youngstrom explained how several local businesses told him that the 2023 Bizarre was their busiest day of the year. “We want to continue that,” he emphasized.

That intent is central to the festival’s history and mission, said Bizarre leader Shamus Lynsky. After the St. Johns Parade ended 18 years ago, several neighborhood leaders met at then-Anna Bananas Café on Lombard to rue that, however popular the Parade might have been that day, when the parade was over, downtown St. Johns became “a ghost town.” As they lamented over beers, they wondered, ‘“I bet if we put a keg in the middle of the plaza and had some bands, folks would stick around and check out our St. Johns,’” Lynsky said. And so the dream of the St. Johns Bizarre was born.

But helping that dream continue takes plenty of volunteers. “Without volunteers this event would literally be impossible, so volunteers are important and cherished,” said Bizarre spokesperson Denis Theriault. Many of the needed 90 volunteer positions, especially on the event day, remain open, he said. First-time volunteers usually find themselves coming back “the next year because of how much fun they have,” he said. People can sign up online to help by typing in St. Johns Bizarre 2024 signup.com.

The lengthy list of sponsors and supporters includes IQ Credit Union, Porch Light Realty, the St. Johns Boosters, US Bank, 45th Parallel Wines, Prosper Portland, Slim’s Cocktail Bar & Restaurant, Wonderwood Springs, St. Johns Neighborhood Association, Willamette Week, Care Oregon, Recology and Urban Living. For more information, check stjohnsbizarre.com or contact info@stjohnsbizarre.com.

St. Johns Bizarre event map
St. Johns Bizarre event map

2024 St. Johns Bizarre musical lineup

St. Johns Plaza Stage

  • Family fun showcase – 10am-noon
    • Mr. Ben – 10-10:45am
    • KCPuppetree – 10:45am-11:00am
    • Triple Rainbow – 11am-noon
  • DJ Dirtynick – noon-2pm
  • Cannibal Ox – 2:00-2:45pm
  • No Age – 4:00-4:45pm
  • The Minus 5 – 5:00-5:45pm
  • Team Dresch – 6:00-7:00pm

John Street Stage

  • Megalith showcase:
    • Airabout – 10-10:45am
    • Carly Barton – 11am-noon
  • DJ TBA – noon-2pm
  • Rad Max – 2:00-2:45pm
  • The Gard3n – 3:00-3:45pm
  • Queen Rodeo – 4:00-4:45pm
  • Caicedo – 5:00-6:00pm

This year, St. Johns Bizarre organizers are thrilled to announce that Team Dresch will headline the Bizarre—a rare and must-not-miss appearance for the beloved punk icons, who reunited in 2019 and picked up the baton years after helping found the queercore movement.

They’ll be joined by famed Northwest pop-rock legends The Minus 5 (with Scott McCaughey and REM’s Peter Buck), making a special appearance at the Bizarre. (If you missed them at their sold-out show at Polaris Hall on April 19, then this one’s for you!)

Los Angeles-based noise-rock juggernauts No Age will also appear, bringing experimental sounds that somehow manage to be both angry and ethereal. Check out once-in-a-generation hip-hop veterans Cannibal Ox, coming from New York City. And show us a smile for local up-and-comers Growing Pains, once described by Willamette Week “as your favorite Portland rock band’s favorite Portland rock band.”

And that’s not all—we’ll have a bevy of other local acts playing all through the day, including pop/Brazilian tropicália band Caicedo, dream-pop indie-rockers Queen Rodeo, dance punk stars Rad Max and the “hiphopera” genius of The Gard3n.

In addition, local promoters Megalith will kick off the day on our John Street Stage with a special showcase featuring dub wonk and minimalist composer Carly Barton and the experimental drone stylings of Airabout.

For more information about the bands, and to hear samples of their music, go to stjohnsbizarre.com.