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Ultimate painting at the treeline stage.
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Joseph at the meadow
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Woods stage more
The woods stage
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Cairo Gang in the galaxy Barn
While I set up my tent on Thursday night (and thankfully did not touch any poison oak), the hootenanny crowd was already square dancing in the meadow. But the early-arriving folks (a huge number of people show up early to snag a great tent spot) also enjoyed the James Hunter sextet playing meticulous and heartfelt soul, who were fantastic. I make only a few exceptions for saxophones and this band had two, but I still loved it. I got a beautiful camp spot on some level ground although even in the quietest corner of Pickathon there is late night music or airplanes or kids as well as crickets.
On Friday, my friend the emcee texted me to say Ibeyi's instruments did not arrive or some similar mishap, so I heard some of Blossom who had a soul/hip hop vibe. I now recognize her voice from when I was trying to sleep the night before.
Meanwhile I ran into Ty Segall and talked to him about lake swimming and pools and the Smell (the punk all ages venue in LA, threatened by gentrification) and Echo and the Bunnymen (a friend who was asked to join the band) and long drives and got spritzed with rose water. We also talked about surfers (Ty is a long time surfer) - William Finnegan who wrote the amazing Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Barbarian Days and the eccentric Dole (?) heir and his tragic death. Also discussed was Ginger Baker (the truly eccentric, talented and objectionable drummer from Cream) and living musicians who suck as people. Segall played drums enthusiastically for Emmet Kelly in The Cairo Gang, who fused many eras of well-crafted pop music into a highly enjoyable set.
The Lucky Barn is always too small but sets there do include interviews so I heard some interesting commentary from Dan Deacon on becoming a musician almost as a second thought. His computer controlled piano was awe inspiring and reminded me of Steve Reich. It was great to see something more electronic and avant garde in the Barn.
Meanwhile Mac De Marco was playing weird covers, according to my friends in the band Dumb, who held a hiatus in the middle of their tour to attend Pickathon. The sun set and I headed to the most beautiful stage - Woods - for Black Mountain, a band from my home town.
Black Mountain sound checked forever but then they delivered a gorgeous set just right for the eerie intimacy of the Woods stage. The psych jams were huge and filled the forest. I've seen this band play since they were two guys called Jerk with a Bomb (who were interviewed for my zine about 16 years ago). I think this was the heaviest, most tingly performance I have seen them give.
And I talked to one of the gang from Portland State uni who design the Treeline stage this year. The timber involved is actually headed to a school but the theme this year was diversion so for the weekend this wood will be at Pickathon.
Ultimate Painting: A slightly more psychedelic version of the Kinks from England. It's pleasant but but didn't have the intensity of Black Mountain.
Ty Segall and the Muggers played until after two am, and it was crazy and epic as they played rock music and did it loudly. Ty played some crazy covers and produced a silver spacesuit which a volunteer donned and them crowd-surfed.
The nights can be long at Pickathon when you've run from stage to stage for hours. Kids ran around with headlamps. The horses slept and I envied them. Everyone was thrilled to be here though and the magic Pickathon vibe continued.