I attended my first Pickathon this year, and it more than lived up to the hype. It was a beautiful, inspiring, exciting experience, and I can’t wait to go back. But, as happens with most first times, I made a number of embarrassing fumbles. Here are the 10 things I wish somebody had told me before I’d made my inaugural visit out to Pendarvis Farm:

1. Be prepared to camp. Even if you don’t think you’ll want to camp, you’ll change your tune when it’s 4 in the morning and you are in no shape to drive back to Portland.
2. Dress as lightly as possible. Short shorts, tank top, flip flops, etc. It gets hot. Especially in the Galaxy Barn, and especially when Leon Bridges is playing. Lord have mercy.
3. A person with a spray bottle of cold water is everybody’s best friend.
4. It is dusty. It’s unavoidable, so just go with it. The shower you take Monday morning will the best shower you’ve ever had.
5. The band or musician you’ve never heard of just might become your new favorite band.
6. I’m looking at you, Sinkane.
7. Just because you can drink all day doesn’t necessarily mean you have to.
8. If you need to sleep in your car because you drove into a ditch at 4 in the morning, go ahead and do so (see # 1 and #7).
9. Keep the number of a local tow truck handy (thanks, A-Affordable Towing!).
10. Be safe.

I don’t know who I’d been most excited to see at Pickathon. Hiss Golden Messenger was up near the top, as was Tinariwen and Leon “Man of the Hour” Bridges. And they all delivered. Seeing Hiss Golden Messenger on the Woods stage was a near-mystical experience, even at the decidedly unmajestic hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The band—with Megafaun’s Phil Cook on guitar and keys, and guest William Tyler on guitar—took their time with each song, expanding their arrangements and locking into extended grooves that were more transcendent than gratuitous.

But the surprises—catching amazing sets by folks I wasn’t familiar with—were what made the weekend special. Meatbodies are a bunch of doofy-looking dudes, but I’ll be damned if their Sabbath-heavy riffs didn’t melt my face. Their bass player, who is a dead ringer for a young Jimmy Page, wished a happy birthday to the late Jerry Garcia, which seemed ridiculously appropriate. Whitey Morgan and the 78s, from my home state of Michigan, played outlaw country to make Waylon Jennings proud. On the Treeline stage, local trio Joseph, comprised of three sisters with perfect harmony, were like a living postcard of all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. JD McPherson and his band brought just the right amount of classic, sing-along rock 'n' roll to have even the most sing-along hostile (me) singing stupidly along.

Sinkane—the moniker of London-born Ahmed Gallab—was among my favorite discoveries. I noticed Gallab backstage, dressed in full black, with a black wide-brimmed Stetson hat and black sunglasses, and I had a feeling this was a set I didn’t want to miss. When he and his band took their psychedelic reggae-funk to the Meadow stage Saturday afternoon, I was immediately hooked. I saw them again the next day in the Galaxy Barn, and by that time they already felt like old friends, which could be said about everyone at Pickathon, from the bands to the volunteers to the attendees. We were all old friends, dusty and sweaty and driving cars into ditches at 4 in the morning (okay, maybe that last part was just me).

Further reading:
Pickathon Diaries: Ty Segall, Kamasi Washington, Wolf People, and More
Pickathon Diaries: The Most Modern Music Festival Around
A (Rather Long) Pickathon Reading List
Wolf People: A Series of Tests
Kamasi Washington: Rebirth of the Cool
Alice Gerrard: Homeward Bound

Joseph on the Treeline Stage