It was a year ago today and I was offered some work out of town. Taking it meant I would miss Pickathon. Not an easy decision. But I had. In the meantime I soothed myself with some bullshit notion that time and money should be spent on new opportunities rather than repeating old ones.
On that Friday, last year, I found myself twiddling my thumbs and wandered on to Pickathon's website and live video feed. Holy shit, there it was. Close, but teasing. Happy to have it, but knowing that so much was happening beyond the lens. Still, I watched. Cranked the stereo. Bittersweet.
Sitting there, in front of the glowing monitor and a setting sun, I knew what I had to do. I resolved to return to Pendarvis Farm the following year.
And in just a few minutes I'll hop on the freeway, pick up my pass, and pitch a tent. Ecstatic to return. To be there, to wander, to be surprised, exhilarated, tired and bleary-eyed. To see Cass McCombs on the Starlight Stage after White Denim in the Barn on Saturday. For Neko Case in the Woods and the War On Drugs, wherever I find them.
Even moreso, I'm excited for what I don't know. In each of the years I've attended Pickathon I've discovered a band heretofore unknown to me. First it was Sam Quinn, one of the most profoundly wilting artists working today. Then it was Cotton Jones, the tremendous, harmonious, loving family band.
Often I tell friends to go. And in the pages of this paper, we've extolled the festival's singular greatness for years. But because of the high entry price, it can be difficult barrier to clear—especially for someone not really sure what it is they'd be getting into. And while the streaming video, which is up already at Pickathon.com, is a taste, it's a small one. A sample. There's much more to it than the cameras can capture.
That said, this year's video operation figures to be more immersive than last year. Yesterday I spoke with Jeff Hylton-Simmons, audio engineering guru with Intothewoods.tv, Mississippi Studios and live sound man for a number of hot-shit Portland groups. Simmons is working on the live mixes, and explains that this year's audio quality is going to be leagues better than last year. (For the techies: instead of just using the stage mix, Simmons and other engineers will create their own separate, stereo friendly mixes.)
So, if you find yourself away from the fest, check in at Pickathon's site for the stream (it even works on my iPad, though the audio is a little wonky at this early hour), or with radio partners KEXP and Paste Magazine.
But if you're looking to get a handle on what Pickathon is—and really you should—tune in with this in mind: what you're seeing is just a sample. A few toothpick bites of sumptuous feast.
Now if you'll excuse me...