Pickathon made four additions to this summer's lineup this week, culminating in today's excellent announcement that the War on Drugs will be playing the 2014 installment of the festival. It's the Philly band's second time at the annual Portland-area music festival; they first played in 2012. The War on Drugs just came through Portland this past Sunday night, blazing through a rock-solid set at a very packed Wonder Ballroom. During the encore, My Morning Jacket's Jim James came out to duet on a cover of John Lennon's "Mind Games" (check out the video on Stereogum). James is currently in town with MMJ to record with local producer Tucker Martine, who worked on the band's 2011 record Circuital; James also performs tonight at Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders benefit show at the Aladdin.
This is very fine news about the War on Drugs, of course, and Pickathon's other additions are terrific as well. We'll get sets from Destroyer (with Dan Bejar performing solo), Those Darlins, and the Black Lilies.
And that's not the only bit of news Pickathon has to share—next week, on Saturday, April 12, they're hosting a film event at the Mission Theater. They've got excellent quality video and audio of performances of last year's fest, including tunes from Andrew Bird, Divine Fits, Parquet Courts, Shabazz Palaces, Shakey Graves, and a lot more. I've seen some of this footage and it's terrific. They'll have shows at 6 and 9 pm, and tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, with all proceeds going to Buckman Elementary. (DIscounted tickets for kids are on sale too.) Get tickets here.
Since we're on the topic of Pickathon, did you know that they've been nominated by the Studio Live Design Excellence Awards in the "Excellence in Live Design" category? Anyone's who's been out to Pendarvis Farm knows this is well deserved, and it's a great achievement for an all-volunteer crew, especially looking at Pickathon's fellow nominees, who make for strange bedfellows indeed: the Ultra Music Festival, Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Tour, the Essence Festival, Bassnectar, and Train. You can vote for Pickathon here, although you'll need to create an account on Studio Live Design's site.
This year's Pickathon—with the War on Drugs, Destroyer, Those Darlins, the Black Lilies, and all the previously announced bands—takes place August 1-3 at Pendarvis Farm and is going to be great. You can get tickets over on Pickathon's site.
I admit I was skeptical of Pickathon's slow rollout of their lineup, but it turned out to be a coup. The anticipation for this year's festival built slowly but steadily, and the conversation and buzz has gathered steam over the past couple weeks. (How long did we all talk about the Sasquatch lineup—a day? Two at most?)
This year, I'm personally most excited to see Courtney Barnett, the Barr Brothers, Parquet Courts, Angel Olsen, Diarrhea Planet, Ural Thomas and the Pain, Woods, Eric D. Johnson's new project (EDJ), and a LOT more. It's a very deep bench the Pickathon crew has put together. Take a look at the (almost) complete lineup after the jump, along with Pickathon's lineup video. Tickets are on sale here, and they've announced a 3,500 capacity this year so I expect it will sell out.
If you're like me, you blocked out the first weekend in August on your calendar for Pickathon long ago. But this morning the local music/arts/goodtimes festival officially announced their 2014 dates. Yes, those dates are August 1-3, and they'll be rolling out this year's lineup in a somewhat unconventional way. Instead of a single blast with a complete list of artists, they'll be announcing three to four bands per day over the next 16 days. (In other words, it's a nightmare for bloggers.) It'll be worth keeping an eye on their site over the next couple weeks to see what they've got up their sleeve this year. Tickets will go on sale this Saturday morning at 9 am.
In the meantime, they've released seven excellent videos that were shot at last year's Pickathon. I was present for many of these performances; it's nice to see them again. Yes, they're as good as I remember. Here's a list of what you can watch, with appropriate linkage.
• Ty Segall: "The Man Man" - Woods Stage
• Divine Fits: "Would That Not Be Nice" - Mountain View Stage (main stage)
• Shabazz Palaces: "Youlogy" - Woods Stage
• Lake Street Dive: "Just Ask" - Galaxy Barn
• Andrew Bird & Tift Merritt: "Give It Away" - Woods Stage
• Jessica Pratt: "Central Park" - private Farm session
• Vieux Farka Touré: "Gi Ku Chi Fo" - Woods Stage
Three days, thousands of photos. You better believe there was more to see than one post could hold. Part two of the 2013 Pickathon Pic-athon! Sharon Van Etten! Andrew Bird! Feist! Parquet Courts! Kurt Vile! Divine Fits!
Still more after the jump!
Yes, you've already heard what a great time the Mercury staff had at this year's Pickathon. Well, I'm telling you again—it's the best!! I knew fewer names on the line-up this year than last, but therein lies the beauty of those three magical days: you hear something amazing that you never would have looked for. This year, what stood out to me from many other stellar acts were Old Light, White Fence, and Shakey Graves (he's doing it better than you). Kurt Vile, Ty Segall, and King Tuff were all great additions to the party, and Divine Fits were a major moment. Not only do I have serious nostalgia for both Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner, but you could tell they were really happy to be there. They even popped a bottle of champagne at the end of their set on Sunday, each taking a swig before passing it off to the joyous crowd. I ended my weekend nestled in the woods with great company, listening to Marco Benevento play for over two hours. It was starting to get light out when I finally made it back to my car, and the magic was written all over the sky.
Lots and lots and lots to look at after the jump! And more to come tomorrow!
One of my good friends treats Pickathon like a vacation. She saves up for a ticket, camps out, takes the weekend off from work and social obligations. It's an attitude I try to cultivate as well, and it means trying to enjoy the entire festival experience, rather than just scurrying from one hot-ticket band to the next.
And so this year my favorite moments at Pickathon weren't when I was packed into the Woods stage watching Andrew Bird (too crowded by half; that many fucked-up people in the dark is beyond unnerving) or taking in a headlining set from Feist. I enjoyed myself the most sitting in a chair in the morning with coffee that was too hot for my dumb reusable cup, reading David Gilbert's great new book & Sons and half-listening to Shinyribs. And hearing Sharon Van Etton joke around with the crowd between her songs, and hanging out with my boyfriend and stuffing my face with fried chicken from Boke Bowl while Kurt Vile played a nighttime set.
And I really, really liked Dan Boeckner's bangs. (The Divine Fits were great, but those bangs... those bangs were hypnotizing..)
I also enjoyed Pickathon's tiny entrepreneurs, all the kids busking and drawing portraits for a dollar and spritzing me with water when I walked by, like tiny monkey-servants. (By which I mean, I enjoyed not giving them any money, because it's not *my* job to over-inflate the the self-esteem of the next generation. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go tell my cat how handsome he looks today.)
The festival is comfortable enough that it's possible to actually enjoy a full day there. Good food, shade, free water, plenty of places to sit and relax. After treating it like a mini-vacation from regular life, I feel legitimately recharged—something to think about next year when you're weighing whether it's worth shelling out for a ticket.
I think I finally got all the dust out of my ears… and nose and eyes and other orifices (is this why they call it Pickathon?), and I’m ready to make my post-first-time-Pickathon assessment. Simply put: It was an incredible weekend. And I’ll be there next year.
The festival at the beautiful, Endor-like Pendarvis Farm is in its 15th year (and eighth at its current location), yet this is only my first. Why is that? Well, I’m of an age and/or disposition where the thought of being cooped up for days with a bunch of semi-disinterested, tragically hip shitheads staring at their phones in unison, only to see three bands I like, sounds awful. Doesn’t it?
I’ll admit having a press pass—which included free booze and backstage access, as well as first dibs on camp spots—sweetened the experience. And, as someone who likes their music a little noisier, I was definitely drawn to this year’s lineup that included Ty Segall, King Tuff, and Parquet Courts. But…
*For those headed out to the Farm looking for the latest updated schedule, Foxygen's Saturday set in the barn will instead be a performance from Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, and their Sunday main-stage set will be filled in by the Builders and the Butchers.
The live stream comes courtesy of Stumptown Bliss, and will be viewable at both Pickathon.com and KEXP's site. The schedule's available here in PDF form (it also tells you which stage the bands are performing on), but I'm also putting the full list of bands and times after the jump.
Also, whether you're going or not, be sure to check out Andrew R Tonry's excellent story on Pickathon this year, which details the changes and growth of the festival, while also underlining how they've maintained quality each year.
I've spent years covering performing arts in Portland, and I try to be cognizant of cost both in terms of how I organize my coverage (there's a reason we cover comedy more frequently than the opera) and whether the shows I do recommend are worth the ticket price. ("What price art" is a conversation for another day.)
It's easy for the press to get excited about Pickathon, because we don't have to pay to go and it's a guaranteed amazing time. But I feel completely comfortable recommending the festival to anyone, even at a relatively steep $260 for a weekend pass. It's a genuinely great festival that's managed to grow and improve without sacrificing the things that make it fun: Comfort, a beautiful setting, great lineups, and a sincere focus on ensuring that the audience has a great time.
And food. Really, really good food. Last year I ate a Bunk sandwich in the beer garden while Neko Case played, and I'm fairly certain I've never been happier in my entire life. This year, Pickathon has provided a complete menu of their remarkable expansive food offerings, because *they think of everything.* The menu alone makes every other festival ever look like absolute garbage. (Even Warped Tour.) The carts and stands who'll be there this year are Pine State Biscuits, Bunk Sandwiches, Boke Bowl, Townshend's Tea Company, Farmers Table, Spunky Monkey Coffee, KOi Fusion, Zuppa Soups, Kure Juice Bar, Bambuza, The Grove, Lauretta Jean's, Al Forno Ferruzza, Viva Vegetarian, Kuza Burger, Fifty Licks, Thai Seasons, and Eatin' Alive.
There's an equally prodigious lineup of beer and booze retailers: Hopworks Urban Brewery, Fort George Brewery, Full Sail Brewing Company, Wandering Aengus Ciderworks, House Spirits Distillery, GoodLife Brewing Company, Three Creeks Brewing Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, and Crux Fermentation Project. Here's the full drinks menu.
It's Pickathon week! This Friday, August 2, the 15th annual Pickathon fest kicks off, and we're incredibly excited about it, as usual. Throughout the week I'm hoping to take a closer look at some of the bands on the bill with whom I'm not overly familiar.
Yellowbirds is the current nom de record of Sam Cohen, formerly of Boston band Apollo Sunshine. The second Yellowbirds album, Songs from the Vanished Frontier, came out earlier this year, and here's the video for the catchy, dirty-bubblegum pop tune "Young Men of Promise." Cohen did the animation of his wife Sarah Graves' artwork.
Cohen's now based in New York City, and Yellowbirds is a four-piece, also including drummer Brian Kanto, bassist Annie Nero, and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman. This track is dense but easygoing, full of whimsical pop and a serrated knife-edge guitar stitching things together. There's another video from Songs from the Vanished Frontier worth checking out: "Mean Maybe" is drily laidback, somewhere in between Loaded and the tenderest moments on Plastic Ono Band.
Yellowbirds plays three Pickathon sets this weekend: Friday August 2 at 4:10 pm on the Mt. View Stage, Saturday August 3 at 11:40 am in the Galaxy Barn, and Sundau August 4 at 3:30 pm in the Workshop Barn. That last one promises to be a more interactive set, with a possible Q&A or whathaveyou.
Reviewing Bonaroo earlier this week, the NY Times' Ben Ratliff wrote about the festival he had just attended, but also festivals at large:
I have an unrealistic fantasy of a music festival purely of excellence, with no responsibility toward any aesthetic or sound or region, only toward the principles of unity and purpose in sound. Bonnaroo is not that. But it allows you, at least, to dream in those terms.
With that in mind I'd like to formally invite Mr. Ratliff to Pendarvis Farm this August, as I think Pickathon's near-perfection might shatter such engrained expectations—or at least offer them a slight tug of re-alignment.
Indeed, entering its 15th year, Pickathon's about as good as it gets.
Part of that's about preference, of course, on things like size, texture, palate, history, etc. But a lot of what has come to define Pickathon are the very qualities Ratliff drearily wishes for: "no responsibility toward any aesthetic or sound or region, only toward the principles of unity and purpose in sound."
Last year's highlights are starting to whiz by: There was Bombino, electric and electrifying on the Woods Stage. Cass McCombs, brooding but profound on the Starlight Stage. White Denim, like a bucking bronco in the Galaxy Barn. A husky buzzing day drunk for the War on Drugs, and, nights before, kicking up dust in the inimitable Square Dance. Back in the barn, TheeSatisfaction cool things out. And McCombs once more, just for good measure. Oh, and who could forget the Barr Brothers, a tremendous, effervescent surprise after a hectic day of travel postponed and nearly derailed their set. The list goes on.
On paper, this year's lineup looks as good if not better. For the full 2013 schedule, check Pickathon.com. While you're there you can also pick up some single day passes, which are on sale now. (But seriously, do the right thing and stay the whole weekend.)
And while the ranks run deep each day, a few scheduled performances jump immediately off the page:
The Relatives burning down and building back the Barn. Sharon Van Etten in the Woods, her voice a heavy wisp of sugary sap. Kurt Vile twinkling on the Starlight. Shabazz Palaces in the Woods and in the Barn (a part of me thinks maybe those spaced-out waves would really unfurl beneath the moon at the late-night Starlight stage, but maybe that I want to see Shabazz Palaces on three stages instead of two just means that I'm really excited to finally see Shabazz Palaces, especially at this marvelous festival instead of some ol' club.)
But, as always: it's who I haven't seen or heard yet at Pickathon I'm most excited for. Over the years such unveilings have become tattooed on my musical mind. Like Bonny Prince Billy, who in person, totally clicked. Or Cotton Jones, stunning, beautiful, and hearty. Or my own personal favorite, the beacon, and shining light of my Pickathons past and (hopefully) present, the saddest sweet voice in all of country music, Mr. Sam Quinn.
Indeed, I'd be remiss to leave out yet another last-minute petition to add the Quinner to this year's festivities. One can only hope.
Nonetheless, I'll be there with bells on.
Hopefully, Mr. Ratliff, you will too.
(The whole damn schedule is also available after the jump.)
Also—KEXP premiered the first episode of Pickathon TV, a compilation of the hours of footage shot from last year's festival, including performances on and off the stage and all other kinds of goings-on. It's a great look at the festival for the uninitiated; and a great-looking and -sounding scrapbook for those who've been. Pickathon coordinator Zale Schoenborn says it "requires good speakers and a beer!" This episode includes performances by Heartless Bastards, Y la Bamba, Blitzen Trapper, Lake Street Dive, Thee Oh Sees, and Los Cojolites. It's great; take a look after the jump, and start getting ready for summer.
Pickathon has announced the lineup for the 2013 festival, and it's a winner, easily their biggest lineup in the 15 years of the festival. Having fully embraced styles outside of the roots music that Pickathon is (still) best known for, this year's fest includes lots of garage rock, as well as at least one indie-pop superstar and a bunch of genuinely good buzz bands, in addition to the expected folk, country, and traditional acts. I'd venture to say its their most diverse lineup to date, and surely the most likely to reach those who still have yet to give Pickathon a try. (These people are missing out.)
Feist, Andrew Bird, Divine Fits, The Devil Makes Three, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Sharon Van Etten, Shabazz Palaces, Howe Gelb, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Vieux Farka Touré, The Felice Brothers, Tift Merritt, The Lone Bellow, Dale Watson, Lady, Wayne Hancock, Foxygen, Lake Street Dive, Marco Benevento, Ginny Hawker, Parquet Courts, King Tuff, Dirk Powell, JD McPherson, Breathe Owl Breathe, Lightning Dust, Sturgill Simpson, Shinyribs, White Fence, Caleb Klauder Country Band, Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole, Foghorn Stringband, Pure Bathing Culture, Bradford Lee Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys, Yellowbirds, Shakey Graves, I Draw Slow, Leo Rondeau, Old Light, The Cactus Blossoms, Diane Ferlatte, Malcolm Holcombe, Pharis and Jason Romero, Trackers Earth, Cat Doorman, Circus Cascadia, Pickathon Squaredance with caller Caroline Oakley, Saturday morning cartoons with Cardboard SongstersThe draw of Feist alone is probably bigger than any other act that's ever played Pickathon, and a clear signpost for where the festival stands today. I'm also excited by Divine Fits' first Portland-area show, Sharon Van Etten (of course), Foxygen, Andrew Bird, JD McPherson, King Tuff, Parquet Courts, Kurt Vile, White Fence, and the PIckathon return of Lake Street Dive and Breathe Owl Breathe. There are also, happily, lots of names that I don't recognize at all, which is a very good sign, taking into account Pickathon's knack for unearthing obscure talent.
This year's fest will take place, as usual, at Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley on August 2-4; it's absolutely one of the best music festivals in the world—and it is priced accordingly, particularly this year, with higher ticket prices to accommodate the bigger names. Still, compared to other, bigger, much-less-fun music festivals, the price is not outrageous in my opinion. You absolutely get what you pay for. Take a look at this year's poster after the jump, and go to the Pickathon site for tickets and more info. [The site has been down intermittently this morning, but that should be temporary.]
Some of the best music at Pickathon doesn't happen in front of the audience. It happens in the tin, 10-foot-by-10-foot pumphouse that's tucked away in the woods that surround Pendarvis Farm. Over the course of the (really hot) Pickathon weekend this August, 33 of the performing bands toted their instruments up to the little pumphouse for stripped-down, casual sessions for only the camera and microphones of the folks at Live & Breathing. And now a number of videos are up over at Live & Breathing's site. Here's a handful, including clips by Denver, the Barr Brothers, and—after the jump—Langhorne Slim and Y La Bamba. Go over to Live & Breathing for more; there are videos from Dr. Dog, Shovels and Rope, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Southeast Engine, Petunia and the Vipers, and lots more, with more on the way.
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