Before heading out to Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pickathon, here are 20 pro tips, hacks, and recommendations for navigating the festival.
One surefire way to have a horrible time at Pickathon is to be rosé drunk and dehydrated (been there, won’t be back again). Guzzle that water like you’re trying to save a tiny orca whale that’s beached in your stomach.
Hang a Hammock at the Woods Stage
The Woods Stage is probably Pickathon’s most picturesque; it’s encircled by ginormous trees where dozens of festivalgoers hang hammocks to observe the commotion from the comfort of their little banana cocoons. Is there a better way to watch Built to Spill?
Prepare Your Butt for the Hay Bales
Speaking of the Woods Stage, the prickly hay bales are extraordinarily uncomfortable. Consider bringing a blanket to provide some cushioning—your butt will thank you.
Experience Catharsis with Sheer Mag
Nod emphatically (or mosh respectfully) to the feel-good rock ’n’ roll of Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag.
Gaze Wistfully at the Horses
They’re beautiful animals. Find them in a pasture between the Galaxy Barn and the Mount Hood Stage.
Protect and Defend Your Cup
Unless you remember to bring your own vessel, in order to drink anything at Pickathon—water, coffee, beer, wine, kombucha, milk (weirdo)—you’ll need to buy one of the festival’s stainless-steel cups. The thing is, when your flesh is being slow-roasted in the sun and your ears blasted with all sorts of wondrous sounds, odds are you will lose said cup. (Or, if you’re like me, it will tumble from your backpack and hit the Lucky Barn’s hardwood floors with a cold thwack in the middle of a contemplative folk set and everyone will look at you with judgmental eyes.)
Make Marisa Anderson’s Fingerpicking a Priority
Portland’s own Marisa Anderson is one of the best guitarists out there—attend either of her sets and you’re guaranteed to enter a blissful trance.
Plot Your Schedule
Each artist on the Pickathon lineup performs twice, meaning you probably won’t have to make too many tough decisions about who to see and who to skip (but it’s still a good idea to consult the schedule).
Find the Elephant
There is an elephant located deep in the woods that is apparently bigger than a human but smaller than a real elephant. “I think it has stuff on it now,” Senior Editor Ned Lannamann reports. “Hippie stuff.”
Forgo Your Bedtime for the Starlight Sets
After things start dying down around 10 pm, the Starlight Stage gears up with performances lasting into the wee hours of the morning. This year’s highlights include Japanese psych band Kikagaku Moyo, soulful dreamweaver Jamila Woods, and glamorous indie rockers Sunflower Bean, who will close out the festival late Sunday night (if you haven’t blasted their song “Twentytwo” with the windows down this summer, you’re doing it wrong).
Stretch Your Body
If you get up early enough, there are yoga classes in the Lucky Barn.
Tough Out the Lucky Barn Line
It’s pretty hard to get into the Lucky Barn—it’s a super small venue, and the best sets always seem to be scheduled at the hottest part of the day. But these intimate performances are some of the festival’s most magical; weather the long lines with patience, fortitude, and a whole lot of sunscreen.
Bring Your Babies
Children under 12 can attend the festival for free (there’s a half-price discount for teenagers), with plenty of entertainment options: classes, crafts, circus training, and kids’ performers (like beloved Portland band Red Yarn).
Spend the Night
One of the best things about Pickathon is that tent camping in the dense woods behind Pendarvis Farm is included with weekend admission tickets. Pro tip: Get there as early as possible if you plan on camping—close-in spots fill up quickly, and if you miss the window you’ll be forced to hike up a dusty hill with all your belongings in oppressive heat, recreating a level of Dante’s Inferno.
Be Kind to Your Feet
They will be doing a lot of walking—some of the stages are far apart, so wear the right shoes.
Marvel at the Gravelly Old Man Voice of Young Man Colter Wall
He really does sound like an old man trapped in the body of a twentysomething.
Get Caught in the Tripper Trap
In the woods there’s usually a colorful, psychedelic art installation that could either be mesmerizing or terrifying, depending on your state of mind.
Try Not to Fall in a Ditch in the Parking Lot
This one’s mostly a warning: If you don’t camp and choose to return to Portland after dark, exercise extreme caution when navigating the makeshift parking lot (which is basically just a field)—last year I walked right into a ditch and looked supremely uncool and also got a bruise that looked like Australia. So maybe bring a flashlight!
Friday and Saturday nights there’ll be comedy in the Lucky Barn with funny people like Amy Miller, Caitlin Weierhauser, and David Gborie. Read more about that here!
Play Peekaboo with Mount Hood
Assuming it’s not cloudy (or smoky like it was last year), you’ll be able to see the snowcapped peak from the Mount Hood Stage!