I am a great lover of live music and have been to many music festivals over the years, going all the way back to the first Lollapalooza in 1991 (a year some of my Vox colleagues celebrated by being born). Over the years, though, the sheer unpleasantness of all the non-music aspects wore on me — the long lines, jam-packed crowds, $8 water, and trash, trash, trash, everywhere.
Then, four years ago, I discovered Pickathon, a small music festival held on the first weekend in August just outside Portland, Oregon, and have basically been ruined for all other music festivals since. It is, as I once wrote, "a music festival made by people who love music festivals for people who love music festivals."
In that post, I described how the organizers of the 15-year-old festival have crafted a fan-friendly experience: They keep the number of available tickets low to avoid overcrowding, offering about one-fifth the population density of a big festival like Coachella; they've implemented a system whereby all attendees use only reusable bamboo bowls and stainless steel cups, so there's virtually no trash; water is free and easily available; and there are separate areas devoted to kids, with performances, games, and circus acts.
The crowd is a mix of ages, from youngsters to aging indie dudes with families (like yours truly). Almost everyone camps on-site for three days, but the festival is the only event held on that land (part of a retired horse farm) all year, so the footprint is light. It feels safe and relaxed. The music, a mix of roots, twang, rock, indie pop, and the occasional hip-hop act (Shabazz Palaces were there a couple years ago), is a nice mix of stuff you've heard of and new discoveries. Every band stays for the full weekend and plays at least twice, on one of the seven stages scattered around the site, so it's easy not to miss anything. I've been three times, and each time I've had my mind blown at least once or twice.
Highlight from two years ago: Diarrhea Planet on the Wood Stage. Seriously. Here's a taste:
Anyway! One of the things the organizers do at Pickathon is take bands aside into these tiny little venues in private areas and record live performances, which they release on a weekly basis on various websites throughout the year. It's a nice way for the bands and the festival to get more exposure and for internet denizens to discover new music.
I thought it would be fun to host some of the videos from the 2015 festival (which I sadly missed). So on the first Friday of the month, each month through August, I'll be posting a performance recorded at the Pickathon Pumphouse, one of the tiny little studios on the grounds. And don't worry, there won't be this windy introduction every time.
Today's exclusive performance comes to us from the Austin, Texas, garage-punk band A Giant Dog, with their song "Sex & Drugs."
Stay tuned next Thursday for another Pumphouse performance.