I first heard of Pickathon from listening to the Roadhouse over on KEXP. It’s a festival concert in Happy Valley, Oregon, held in on Pendarvis Farm. The line-up is mostly Americana roots acts, some more on the indie-rock end and some on the authentic twang end.
Mad and KO and I road-tripped from our happy Bay Area home to Happy Valley (with some stops at the awe-some Oregon dunes and Portland). The concert is held actually right outside of Portland, on a huge private farm. Although we knew it was camping, none of us really realized how much HIKING we would have to do (would I have brought four pairs of shoes? Probably not). There was some huffing and puffing as we got all over our stuff to a campsite.
Once we did, we got to explore the very cool kite-like tents over the main stages (seriously, half of my photos are of the tents). There were two main stages, with other scattered in barns and in the forest. The Woods Stage, located deep in the woods, was the best venue. There’s nothing like hearing a band playing good music with sunshine creeping through the trees.
Another awesome thing about Pickathon? The concert is totally sustainable. You could either bring your own plates and cutlery, or you could rent some for $10 (and keep the set for $5). The food was really tasty – I had a biscuit that knocked my socks off. I would say that there’s really no need to bring any camping gear as the prices are all pretty low. And unlike some concerts, water is free and plentiful.
So what about the music? I came away with some new bands that I loved. The Fruit Bats totally nailed it with fun indie-folk at the Woods Stage. The Pine Leaf Boys were right after, and I discovered zydeco is really, really fun live. Pokey Lafarge is just the right mix of kitsch and homage to “riverboat soul music.” Alela Diane‘s voice with her band, The Wild Divine, was just as gorgeous as on her albums. I fell asleep during Bill Callahan’s set, but his epic voice reached all the way to our tent.
All in all, a super-fun experience, and a welcome, low-key alternative to the festival scene.
Check out the Pickathon website to see about 2012. And look at my photos below!