Festival: Pickathon, August 2-4, 2013
Location: Pendarvis Farm – Happy Valley, OR
Headliners: Feist, Andrew Bird, Divine Fitz, The Devil Makes Three, Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten, Shabazz Palaces, Parquet Courts, Foxygen, Marco Benevento
Why we’re excited to go: Different types of people go to multi-day music festivals for different reasons. Some folks are genuine music nerds/enthusiasts, who are obsessed with trying to see 4-thousand bands within a 3-4 day time period. Others are party frat goons who couldn’t care less about who/what/if any artists are performing at all and simply want a place where they can get wrecked with a group of strangers in a field (I’m looking at you, drunken asshole in the straw hat that fell on me and my lady, while Pavement was playing “Range Life” at Sasquatch! 2010). But whether it’s because patrons trust in the consistency of a festival’s annual lineup, or simply go for the party, it’s become such an important yearly event for so many people that it is now actually standard practice to sell tickets months in advance of the scheduled artists ever even being announced. If you can promise a handful of solid and/or popular acts, or even just a place with slack drinking regulations, you could throw a successful festival in a toxic-waste dump, and, after 4 days in your own grime, there are plenty of festivals that don’t feel too far removed from that. The people behind Pickathon, on the other hand, seem to believe that you can have the best of both worlds: a selection of talented musicians, as well as an environment that’s actually worth visiting each year based on its own merit, alone.
15 minutes outside of downtown Portland, the Pendarvis Farm is an 80-acre, family-owned, organic farm, with a major focus on sustainability. Those who are “socially conscious,” will likely see this as a bonus, but many others may simply interpret that information as being an inconvenient pain in the ass. The latter should be aware that “sustainability,” also translates into free drinking water. Additionally, the food and beverage situation blows that of just about every other festival that I’ve ever even heard about out of the metaphorical, pure filtered water. Instead of $10 cans of Coors, festival goers will have access to $4 pints from various local microbreweries, as well as to hard cider and wine from local wineries. Rather than single-use boxes of overpriced, greasy, chain restaurant pizza, you will find an impressive selection of astonishingly affordable, multi-ethnic, gourmet choices from a number of different quality food vendors (vegan, and gluten-free options included). Other amenities include showers, massages, a café, a bakery, high-end espresso, and more. [From my understanding, those of us working as press may even get full backstage access with free beer and ice-cream ]. Taking families into consideration, there are interactive, child-friendly activities that involve art, crafts, music, and even circus arts. In intimate settings, musicians perform on stages that resemble makeshift structures crafted from branches in an Endorian forest by Ewoks. The setup is so appealing to many artists, that they will often stay throughout the weekend themselves, performing multiple sets across different days; even finding themselves involved in random collaborations throughout the rustic venue property. This helps to eliminate some of the irksome scheduling conflicts that often occur at music festivals, when there are 2 separate acts that you came to see performing at the same time. In its 15th year, Pickathon promises to be the one festival, above all others, that is actually benefited by its layout and amenities, rather than attempting to flourish in spite of them. (Christopher Altenburg)