Every time it looks like Pickathon is about to go big, something reins it back in.
In 2016, it certainly seemed like Portland's biggest little music festival was approaching a tipping point. In terms of prestige, the lineup was its heftiest yet, and it showed in the turnout. Pickathon has never had trouble drawing people to the woods of Happy Valley. As you'll often hear, it's all about the experience, man, not who's playing. But last year was the first time where it felt like the festival might be on the verge of outgrowing not just its location, scenic Pendarvis Farm, but its own humble ambitions.
A year later, Pickathon was back to being Pickathon again. Whether it was the heatwave or the upcoming eclipse festivities siphoning off attendees, the crowds returned to a more manageable level. And while the bookings also returned to the mean, the moments that make the festival what it is—the experience, man!—were bountiful. Swedish psychedelic maestros Dungen live-scored a 1920s animated film under a moonlit sky. Dinosaur Jr. shredded so loud it threatened to crack the trees shading the Woods Stage in half. Young acts like Priests and Tank and the Bangas played breakthrough sets to audiences that never saw them coming. On a personal level, maybe you took a weed nap under a glowing geodesic cube, or waited in line for pie behind Robyn Hitchcock.
It won't actually stay like this forever, of course. Nothing good does. But for now, it remains one of Portland's truest pleasures. Enjoy it while you can, and save your cynicism for tomorrow.
What's your favorite thing about Pickathon? Mic Capes: "The diversity of genres of music and the hospitality."
Who are you most excited to see? Luz Elena Mendoza: "Ty Segall and Tank and the Bangas. I wanted to see Charles Bradley last night, and Dinosaur Jr. for freakin' sure!"
Do you drive or camp? "Camp! To be able to fall asleep next to my son while Dungen was playing in the background last night was really surreal and great. It's good to just be able to wake up and go. Plus driving sucks!"
What is your favorite thing about Pickathon? "It's our fave 'cause everybody's really nice, open and giving. It's like a really friendly Coachella."
Who are you most excited to see? "Charles Bradley for sure. His outfits are incredible. Last night he looked like a disco ball!"