Pickathon has long been one of the most unique festival-going experiences—nestled among the trees on Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, it legitimately feels like summer camp—and in the last few years, the lineup has shifted to reflect that uniqueness. It hasn't abandoned its roots as a, um, roots music festival, it's expanded on them, making it unlike just about any other multi-day music gathering in the country. This year's lineup, released this morning, is maybe the most off-the-wall eclectic in Pickathon's 15-year history—and maybe the biggest, too. Here are the top six things that make it so awesome:
Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Leslie Feist, but this is a major get for the festival—perhaps its greatest get yet—and anything that helps Pickathon attract bigger names to such a modestly-sized festival is good by me. And anyways, potentially seeing her amongst the intimate, one of a kind atmosphere of the Woods Stage, a la Neko Case last year, is something even a minor fan like me wouldn't want to miss.
2. Divine Fits
Featuring onetime Portlander Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs, who has his own connections to our fair city, it's a bit surprising the indie rock supergroup has yet to actually play here during its short existence. Unless the band books a local gig around the time of Sasquatch!, this'll be their first Portland-area appearance—and you can bet that late-night barn set will be killer.
3. More Garage Rock
After Thee Oh Sees absolutely slayed the Galaxy Barn last year with easily the best and most talked about set of the festival, Pickathon founder Zale Schoenborn seemed to make a concerted effort to book more tripped-out, high energy garage bands in the same vein, including Parquet Courts, King Tuff and White Fence. Expect to sweat.
4. Vieux Farka Toure
The son of late Malian guitar god Ali Farka Toure had to cancel an appearance at last year's Pickathon after his house in Mali was allegedly ransacked by thieves. He's bringing his psychedelic African blues back this year, and for a lot of people will be one of the festival's most pleasant surprises.
5. Shabazz Palaces
Pickathon's embrace of hip-hop has been slow coming, but between THEESatisfaction being there last there and this year's appearance by fellow Seattle avant-rap visionaries Shabazz Palaces, at least it's starting at the fringes.
6. You Don't Know Half These Artists
Where most promoters book the same two-dozen buzz acts playing every other festival, Schoenborn grabs regional favorites and complete unknowns, and lets them play multiple times during the weekend, on several different stages, offering multiple opportunities for discovery. That's what make this a true festival for music lovers, and not just a bunch of stoned hippies with hula hoops—though there are plenty of them, too, and you'll probably exchange numbers with a few by the time the weekend is over.
The full lineup as of now:
PICKATHON 2013 LINE-UP
The Devil Makes Three
Kurt Vile & The Violators
Sharon Van Etten
Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
Vieux Farka Touré
The Felice Brothers
The Lone Bellow
Breathe Owl Breathe
Lake Street Dive
Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys
I Draw Slow
Pure Bathing Culture
The Cactus Blossoms
Pharis & Jason Romeo
Pickathon Squaredance with Caller Caroline Oakley
PICKATHON FOR KIDS
Pickathon is Aug. 2-4 at Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley. Check out this piece on the festival from Spin and this sweet promo video below: