Photos by inger klekacz
[T]he first year I went to Pickathon, I accidentally disturbed a bee nest while pitching my tent, and was stung three times while getting chased out of the area.
The second year I went to Pickathon, I pitched my tent on a hill, neglecting to put up the rain fly. I was awakened by rain around 2am on day 3, and as I rushed to put the rainfly up, I tripped on the tent’s threshold and took a tumble down the hill, in the dark, in the rain, in my underwear, onto the world’s unluckiest fern.
This year, my feet swelled up to the size of Nerf footballs and my ridiculously stuffed camera bag cut off the circulation to my left arm.
And you know what? Every year, I say: I CAN’T WAIT TO COME BACK. SEE YOU NEXT YEAR.
This isn’t your typical show review because Pickathon isn’t your typical show. I’m not going to rehash the performances of the bands I saw – I’d rather you just go look ’em up (I tagged them at the bottom of this post) and decide for yourself if they’re right for you. But I can tell you that out of the 24 hours of music that I covered, I didn’t see one band that I didn’t respect.
Pickathon defies traditional music festival standards by creating a completely different experience. It’s like a bunch of music nerds sat around a wood stove one winter and brainstormed the most awesome gift you could give a music lover, and came up with a tremendous all-in-one experience.
“It’s like today is the last day of summer camp, you know? And we’re all holding on to that magic feeling that you get from summer camp. We all want this moment to last forever.” — Sharon Van Etten
It’s a music festival for people who, when asked what kind of music they like, always give a squirrelly answer involving at least 3 genres and possibly a couple of bands you’ve never heard of.
It’s also a camping weekend, if you want it to be. And a place where you can eat a burrito or an ice cream cone and listen to some rad music from Tennessee or Mali while you’re waiting for a massage. Where you don’t pay for bottled water because they truck in free-flowing water for all festival patrons. Where people take the Lost & Found seriously. Where people are nice to each other’s kids. Where you can wander through the woods at 1am and hear impromptu jam sessions from…somewhere out there, in the dark part of the woods.
And possibly one of the most important elements, it’s a music festival that has decided to do without the abominably selfish waste that comes with other music festivals – it doesn’t sell anything in plastic; it composts and recycles; and even better, it encourages people to use reusable dishware. Oh, and the stages are solar powered. The amps. The lights. All solar. No big deal.
It’s just now starting to feel a little more commercial, with recently introduced restrictions on photography due to Big Names coming through. And the ticket price has gone up – understandably so, since they’ve committed to keeping audience sizes relatively small, compared to the Coachellas and the Southbys and the Sasquatches (where success is measured in people per acre).
Pickathon may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me. And maybe you. See you next year.