Pickathon Returns to Happy Valley (and the Internet)

Die-hard Portland music fans might say the pandemic wasn’t really over until the Pickathon returned.

Okay, the pandemic is not about. But in the summer of 2022, as with almost every festival and tour and venue, the show must go on. After being canceled in 2020 and completely unbooked in 2021 (unlike much bigger festivals), Pickathon returns to Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley on August 4-7 (and will be streamed fully live for the first time).

This year the big names on the poster are Valerie June, Wet Leg and GZA & The Phunky Nomads, with a lineup that also includes returning favorites (Hurrah for the Riff Raff, Mike and the Moonpies), recent touring artists you may have missed indoors (Faye Webster, Yazmin Williams), playing fresh from Newport Jazz Festival and/or Lollapalooza (Nate Smith + KINFOLK, Nubya Garcia, Goth Babe).

And that’s not all. There’s also Oregonians (Margo Cilker, Kassi Valazza, Mariachi Tradición), DJs, art installations, the usual replenishment of food and drinks (break out those reusable cups!), kids’ gear, and a live edition of the podcast Chapo Trap House.

It’s been a tough few years for Pickathon, and not just because of COVID-19. There was some backlash over the initial lack of refunds for 2020 (they were finally given a year later, with the help of federal aid and the #SaveOurStages lobbying efforts). And in 2019, two arborists died while dismantling one of Pickathon’s stages, leading to a culpable homicide lawsuit against the festival and five other companies.

“We’re trying to re-learn how to put together a festival,” says Pickathon co-founder Zale Schoenborn. “And on top of that I think I can put together a brand new festival.”

Any Pickathon veteran knows that if you have the chance to see someone on the Woods Stage, you should pick them. As Schoenborn points out, the rustic, heavily wooded forest was built by nature, while the festival’s other outdoor stages (Mt. Hood, Treeline) were merely trying to hitch a ride on nature.

This year Pickathon has been physically restructured, with a new layout of “neighborhoods” scattered throughout Pendarvis Farm. Designed by artists and architects from the likes of Portland State University, Green Anchors, Skylab Architecture and McFadin Design, the neighborhoods offer more open space and flow, as well as more opportunities for shade.

“I think anyone who’s ever been to Pickathon will be known because you’ve been to Pendarvis Farm,” Schoenborn says. “But it’s going to be all new.”

One thing hasn’t changed even during COVID: the sense that the pace of development in Happy Valley will one day bring the festival to an end. Schoenborn says he thinks and hopes that Pickathon can last at least three to five years. But if pandemic life has taught us anything, it’s to count on nothing… and always go to the show.

“I think it’s safe to think of each year of Pickathon as the possible last,” says Schoenborn. “You just don’t know, do you?”


Wet leg

Paddock, 10 p.m. Friday, August 5.

Were you there when Wet Leg made its Portland debut in Vitalidad in March? No, because the British duo grew so big so quickly that it was moved to – and sold out – the Wonder Ballroom.

Sons of Kemet

Paddock, Friday, August 5 at 12 noon; Curation, 9.30 p.m. Saturday, August 6; Cherry Hill, 9 p.m. Sunday, August 7.

Pickathon DJ El Toro (formerly of KEXP and now at KXCI in Tucson) is especially excited to see this British jazz group, especially as they just announced on Instagram that they will be “closing this chapter of the band’s life in the near future.” “.


Galaxy Barn, Friday, August 5 at 9 p.m.; Woods Stage, Sunday, Aug. 7, 5:00 PM.

David Nance

Cherry Hill, Thursday, August 4 at 11 p.m.; Lucky Barn, Saturday, Aug. 6, 4 p.m.

If your favorite Pickathon sets have been from Ty Segall or The Cairo Gang, then the Nebraska garage psych god Nance is the one you want to see this year. And then you get Nance and his bandmates who deliver the metaphorical fireworks behind the outstanding Philadelphia singer-songwriter Rosali.

Sampa the Great

Paddock, 12 noon Saturday Aug 6; Woods Stage, Sunday, August 7 at 11 p.m.

Schoenborn, DJ Stonebunny and Nico Vergara of Pickathon food vendor Nico’s Ice Cream all named the Australian (via Zambia and Botswana) rapper, writer and producer. “She just fascinates me, that she can do all music live,” says Schoenborn. “It sounds like it’s been overdubbed and produced, but it’s pretty much live.”

Garcia Peoples

Galaxy Barn, Saturday, August 6, 5:00 p.m.; Grove, Sunday, August 7 at 4 p.m.

Not to be confused with Portland’s Garcia Birthday Band, these New Jersey psychedelics should still delight your Uncle Deadhead… as well as fans of Sun Ra, Superwolves or Blitzen Trapper. Just like Pickathon in general!

TO GO: Pickathon runs at Pendarvis Farm, 16581 Hagen Road, Happy Valley, pickathon.com. August 4-7. Weekend tickets $390; kids 13-16 $195, 12 and under free. Day tickets $195 on Saturday, $170 on Friday or Sunday. Live stream at frqncy.live/pickathon. $14.99- $29.99.

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