Next weekend, The Revue will be on-site at the 18th annual Pickathon Festival in Oregon. This unique fest offers an eclectic mix of artists from multiple genres, from bluegrass to indie folk, psych rock to art rap, and a bit of everything in between. If its scenic location outside of Portland isn’t special enough, the small size (only 5,000 attendees) and non-corporate vibe make it one of the best small festivals in the U.S. Our pre-fest coverage will help you get to know the 60+ performers who will grace the stages of Pendarvis Farm.
If you’re planning to go (and why wouldn’t you?), you should act fast since fewer than 200 weekend passes remain! Ticket information is available here, including details about on-site camping and the Curation Series that features six specially planned events of meals, drinks, and live music from selected artists on the lineup. You can also follow Pickathon via their social media accounts:
With more than five dozen artists performing over four days, deciding who to see might be a challenge! We have been fortunate enough to see many of these artists, so here are our top picks for the first two days. (We’ll have more picks for Saturday and Sunday next week.) Check back during (and after) the festival when we’ll have artist interviews, photo galleries, and more!
Canadian county singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega will deliver one of the festival’s first performances (Treeline Stage | 4:50pm – 5:50pm). It’s been almost one year exactly since the now Nashville-based artist released her Faded Gloryville album on The Grand Tour imprint of Last Gang Records. That LP helped secure her achieve Roots Artist of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Country Music Awards. It will be a treat to see her perform in such an intimate setting as Pickathon. If you’re not already familiar with her work, this video will help you get acquainted with this future legend. You can read more about her from The Revue’s interview with her from last year. She will set your heart on fire, and we dare you not to fall in love with her. She performs again on Friday (Lucky Barn | 6:00pm – 7:00pm).
Once the sun has set, picture yourself dancing under the stars to the soulful serenade of The James Hunter Six (Galaxy Barn | 10:40pm – 11:40pm). This set promises to be one of the first day’s highlights. We featured this incomparable talent back in February when he had just released his fourth album, Hold On!, on Daptone Records. Be sure to pack your dancing shoes, because this British crooner (and former touring member of Van Morrison’s band) will have the crowd swaying to his group’s old-school soul sound. Their second performance will be Friday (Woods Stage | 1:00pm – 2:00pm), but this is a band you want to experience at night when Mother Nature provides the perfect mood lighting.
After you’ve danced with The James Hunter Six, you’ll have time to head over to the Starlight Stage (12:05am – 1:00am) where Ibeyi will cast a magical spell in the moonlight. When French-Cuban twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz released their self-titled debut album last year on XL Recordings, the world took notice of their talent and was mesmerized by their harmonies. If the evening temperatures turn chilly, then the heat from their Afro-Cuban rhythms infused with French jazz will warm your heart and soul. Here is the video that earned the pair countless new fans. After one listen, you’ll understand why. Their Friday encore set (Woods Stage | 4:20pm – 5:20pm) is a second chance to learn why Ibeyi are one of the most promising new groups in indie music.
Many will wake up on the festival’s first official day in this cozy woodland oasis, feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a full day of music. Friday’s schedule features a whopping 38 performances on 6 stages starting at 11:20 a.m. Here are our suggestions for shows not to miss:
Pickathon attendees are in for a treat when newcomer Adia Victoria (Galaxy Barn | 3:20pm – 4:20pm) brings her southern charm to the Pacific Northwest on Friday afternoon. Her unique blend of gothic Americana seems perfectly suited for the rustic venues of Pendarvis Farm. This South Carolina native now lives in Nashville, so there is a hint of country in her sultry delivery of songs from her debut album, Beyond the Bloodhounds (released in May on Atlantic Records). Come see why The Revue and NPR have raved about this emerging artist. Her second performance is Saturday (Treeline Stage | 3:10pm – 4:10pm), though we really wish she were scheduled for a late-night set, because her music would sound even more enchanting under a full moon.
Another performance that overlaps with Adia Victoria’s is another must-see set: local Portland trio Joseph (Mountain Stage | 3:50pm – 4:50pm) returns to delight audiences with their powerful indie folk melodies and jaw-dropping harmonies. Everyone who saw them perform on the Treeline Stage last year knows these sisters have some of the purest voices around. Their new album, I’m Alone, No You’re Not, comes out next month on ATO Records, but they’ll give the crowd a memorable preview of the new material. If you miss their Friday afternoon set, you can catch them at the end of the festival during their Sunday performance (Starlight Stage | 10:15pm – 11:10pm).
Now we aren’t suggesting that you park yourself at the Mountain Stage for the duration of Friday, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason to leave with all the incredible back-to-back performances scheduled there. Immediately after Joseph’s set is the energetic ensemble The Oh Hellos (5:30pm – 6:30pm) who are sure to keep everyone on their feet. Their recent appearance at this year’s Newport Folk Fest was a definite crowd pleaser. The nine-member Texas-based indie folk/rock outfit lead by siblings Maggie and Tyler Heath will deliver a memorable set both on Friday and Saturday (Woods Stage | 6-7pm).
The high energy fun continues on the Mountain Stage when Pickathon alum Mac DeMarco (7:10pm – 8:10pm) returns. It’s possible that DeMarco might remain in one place the entire time he’s on stage, though we aren’t betting on that. At his Pickathon performance in 2014, the Canadian indie rocker led the crowd through a woodsy singalong hike, so it’s possible he might pull off something similar this year. His second set will be on Sunday (Treeline Stage | 9:50pm – 10:50pm). For those who missed that memorable moment from two years ago, here’s his walkabout rendition of “Salad Days”:
The final set on the Mountain Stage will leave audiences blissfully stunned when Wolf Parade (8:50pm – 10:00pm) perform long-awaited new material to what will likely be a packed crowd. After a lengthy hiatus that tested the patience of loyal fans, in May the four-piece indie rock legends made their triumphant return with a surprise four-song EP released via SubPop. We reviewed it earlier this year, long before we realized they would be performing the new tunes for us in Oregon. Wolf Parade have (if you’ll excuse the pun) rabid fans, so we recommend getting to the stage early if you want to stake your claim to a prime viewing spot.
Finally, you’ll have exactly 15 minutes after Wolf Parade to dash over to the Starlight Stage to see Futurebirds (10:15pm – 11:10pm) bring plenty of scorching southern warmth to the Farm. You won’t be drinking alone when the Athens, GA-based group plays, because everyone in attendance becomes your new best friends. Their psychedelic-tinged southern indie rock fosters the kind of instant camaraderie found among other bands with fervent fans like My Morning Jacket and Wilco. Their latest album, Hotel Parties (released last September on Easy Sound Recordings), was a favorite of The Revue last year. If you’ve never seen these six hardworking, talented musicians, you owe it to yourself to catch their sets on Friday night or Saturday (Galaxy Barn | 3:20pm – 4:20pm) afternoon. Trust us when we say that you’ll kick yourself if you miss the chance to sing and dance with these guys.
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