This year’s Pickathon could’ve been hellish, with smoky skies and 100-degree temperatures. Despite the heat, the weekend unfolded like a strange, beautiful dream. Israeli popstars A-Wa’s Yemenite grooves made for the ultimate forest dance party. Ty Segall inspired men in fedoras to try moshing, with guitar solos loud enough to vibrate my uvula. Speaking of uvulas, Huun-Huur-Tu’s incredible Tuvan throat singing caused me to marvel at the myriad ways the human body can make music. Portland's own Mic Capes brought down the Galaxy Barn debuting tracks from his new EP Sheesh with Drae Slapz. After seeing Sunflower Bean, I’m certain frontwoman Julia Cumming is Debbie Harry’s long-lost daughter—that voice! The “Screaming Eagle of Soul” Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires brought me to tears twice. Australian crooner Alex Cameron kept his cool when some dude threw a hotdog (sans bun) onstage; still unsure whether or not that was a pre-planned stunt. But some of the most memorable moments weren’t during any performance, like when I was ambushed by a herd of tiny children with toy bow-and-arrows, or when I ate peak-season huckleberry pie while watching dozens or joyful square dancers, or even when I fell in a hole in the parking lot, which gave me a bruise that’s the shape of Idaho. Pickathon was pure magic—my heart is full of love, and my nose is full of dust boogers. CIARA DOLAN
It not only surprises me to say this, it actually pains me, because I am a cynical resistor when it comes to the new viral world of marketing artists. But the best thing I saw at Pickathon was NPR Tiny Desk insta-heroes Tank and the Bangas, a super fun fusionistic space/funk/jazz/hip-hop band that absolutely tractor-beamed everyone crowded around the Woods Stage on Saturday afternoon. Here’s the thing about this New Orleans six-piece: They’re weird. I mean, they’re also tight and funky and talented, but their songs are just strange, man. They zig and zag in unexpected ways. They’re rhythmically restless, and they’re unafraid of jumping out of funk’s pocket and exploring unconventional sounds. The four instrumentalists are a killer unit, but what makes Tank and the Bangas truly special are the two women who front the band. Tank is equal parts starry-eyed singer, slam poet, character actor and performance artist, while Jelly plays her foil, providing soulful vocal interplay and incredible charisma. These two women are an explosively potent combo; it is impossible to take your eyes off of them. And their band... their band is the real deal. They deserve every bit of success coming their way. (Also: Pinegrove was life-changing Saturday night on the Woods Stage. But I expected that.) BEN SALMON
This was my first Pickathon. As a tree-hugging Oregonian, I was instantly enchanted by the reusable dish system, lack of waste, and the hammock village by the Woods Stage. After seeing A-Wa turn the Woods Stage into a psychedelic dance party on Sunday, I was confident they'd take the cake as my favorite act of the festival. But a couple of hours later I attended Tank and the Bangas' set at the Treeline Stage, not knowing anything about the band or what to expect—I was going merely based on some avid recommendations from friends. As soon as I got there (10 minutes late), the huge crowd was already in party mode as the band played their high-energy single “Quick.” Fronted by the adorable Tarriona Tank Ball, who brings spoken-word storytelling and some serious powerhouse vocals, the New Orleans six-piece incorporates a slew of genres, resulting in a celebratory blend of funk, soul, hip-hop, gospel, jazz, R&B, and folk. The band’s energy was incredibly activating, and their crowd control was equally impressive—the amped-up audience sang and clapped along, meeting every call-and-response. And when their set ended, people gave up that rare sort of unrelenting, ear-splitting applause that’s usually reserved for mainstream popstars. I was blown away by Tank and the Bangas' live show, and can’t wait to listen to their entire catalog—I’m thrilled they’ll be back in Portland this October to play the Star Theater. JENNI MOORE
My favorite part of Pickathon was Drive-By Truckers' set Saturday night at the Mt. Hood Stage. They've been one of my favorite bands for a long time, and they killed it in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. Singer Patterson Hood talking about moving his family from Athens, Georgia, to Portland made it very personal and cool. I’ll also definitely remember standing like, four feet from J Mascis as Dinosaur Jr. rocked on Sunday night (hopefully my eardrums will recover soonish—I’d like to be able to hear normally again), and the crowd’s amazing back-and-forth with Hiss Golden Messenger’s “Brother, Do You Know the Road?” Okay, I guess that’s three things. DOUG BROWN
Pinegrove’s Saturday night set at the Woods Stage embodied everything that makes Pickathon so special. The twangy and openhearted indie rock band from Montclair, New Jersey, channels an alt-country vibe that nods to the festival's roots, while a song like “New Friends” distills its summer camp vibe with a tightly packaged anthemic outburst. Performing as a six-piece, the band bounced all over the stage, flawlessly powering through an extended set that included material from their 2016 breakout, Cardinal, along with selections from their odd-and-ends compilation, Everything So Far. As a huge fan of both records, I was blown away by just how much better they managed to make everything sound out in the middle of the woods. I wasn’t the only one feeling that way—I spotted Jay Som’s Melina Duterte smiling and bobbing up and down on a bale of hay while drumming along on her bandmates’ shoulders. Photographers had the difficult task of alternating between fist-pumping and capturing the magic. Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any more swoon-worthy, frontman Evan Stephens Hall announced that the band had recently moved into a house in upstate New York, where they're working hard on their sophomore album. They then launched into a pair of new songs, giving diehard fans a brief-yet-satisfying sneak peek at what’s likely one of the most anticipated records of 2018. It was all so transfixing, I barely noticed the legendary Dinosaur Jr. as they were loading in their massive Marshall stacks just a few feet beyond the stage. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
Something special happened when one of the Mercury's photographers, Katie Summer, went to shoot Ty Segall's set at the Starlight Stage Saturday night...