Things Not to Miss at Pickathon 2022

Here are our live music picks and a few tips on what look for at this year's festival.
August 5, 2022
"As Above So Below" at the 2019 festival  (VERONICA ROSE)

Originally published on our sister site, the Portland Mercury.

Pickathon, you have been missed. And while specific live sets, dancing to DJs beneath the stars, and stumbling back to campsites under strands of fairy lights top the list of things we're excited about this year, there's simply nothing wrong with also loving the unfettered access to Pine State Biscuits in the market area either. So in no particular order, here are some recommendations for things about Pickathon 2022 that you absolutely should not miss:

Cycling / Shuttling

Non-cyclists look at you like you're superhuman, but most regular riders know that an hour and a half of flat terrain is predominantly a pleasant sojourn. Depending on where you start (and whether you cut part of the time off by piggybacking on transit) the level, leisurely path to Pickathon takes about an hour and a half to traverse. The fest encourages ridership and schedules multiple group rides, outgoing and returning, with accompanying camp gear transport. In 2019, I didn't camp, but used a hybrid model of cycling and shuttle rides (which this year requires a $40 shuttle pass) from Clackamas Town Center to great success. And while it's easy to catch a ride share at the end of the night, the shuttle will save you from your Lyft driver's inevitable insistence on polemic conversation. SUZETTE SMITH

Yasmin Williams

Acoustic finger-style guitarist Yasmin Williams’ story is an unlikely one: Inspired after beating the Guitar Hero II video game on Expert level, she decided to learn how to play the guitar IRL in 2009. Now with two albums under her belt—her aptly named debut studio album Unwind and 2021’s critically acclaimed Urban Driftwood, which was written during the George Floyd protests—Williams has established a reputation for relaxing, wordless compositions that make for a calming spa soundtrack or soothing nighttime listen. While Williams typically plays acoustic guitar seated, with her instrument often laying flat on her lap and tuned to open D, she often makes use of strange percussion or objects that add flare to her live performances. For instance, she has been known to play the kalimba, rhythmically knock on her guitar, or wear tap shoes during her performance that let her tapping feet become the percussion. Also, full disclosure: I’ll be interviewing Williams during her set on Saturday at the Lucky Barn, so there’s that. (Windmill Stage, Fri Aug 5, 3pm; Lucky Barn, Sat Aug 6, 6pm) JENNI MOORE

Curation Series

Within the vast Mercury readership, some of you want to treat yourselves to an experience splurge. And why not? You work hard for the money, honey, and Pickathon's curation series is not priced prohibitively for what ticket holders receive. The series pairs prix fixe meals, planned by visionary local chefs, with intimate—each audience maxes out at 80 seats—live music sets under the green boughs of Pendarvis Farm.

When the curation series debuted in 2018, I didn't really understand it, and thought it was just rich people being separatist, but now that I have a few years of food writing under my belt, I've heard chefs gush about how much they enjoy controlling every aspect of a meal so their dishes can compound and interact with one another. Food is undoubtedly one of Portland's most beloved art practices, so along with sculptures, comedy, sound baths, and literary readings the curation series is just one more artistic pursuit we've seen Pickathon embrace. All of this year's chefs are worthy of your notice, and have been making their names known in the local food world—from Luna Contreras of the Chelo pop-up inside NW 23rd's Sibeiho to Mercury favorites Astral PDX. SS

Nubya Garcia

Jazz heads rejoice! London-based saxophonist Nubya Garcia is bringing her jazzy, reggae-infused instrumentals, and long-form funky grooves to Pendarvis Farm this weekend. Garcia blows a mean tenor sax, and her influences range from greats like trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist John Coltrane to UK-based reggae band Steel Pulse, so expect an expertly fleshed out band situation for her two weekend shows. Her music is agreeably soulful, and basically lyric-free, although she often invites a couple back-up singers to deliver some oohs and ahs. Garcia's set on the Woods stage seems particularly unmissable, while her 1 am set the following day seems like the perfect way to close out a long Saturday of fun. (Woods Fri Aug 5, 7 pm; Cherry Hill, Sat Aug 6, 1 am) JM

GZA with Phunky Nomads

It’s a safe bet that just today nearly 40,000 songs were uploaded to Spotify. In this overly saturated, rapid-release world of music we now find ourselves in, it’s never been more important to keep a strong light on records (and acts) that stand the test of time for their originality and the blueprint they left the next generation to tweak and emulate. Wu-Tang Clan’s catalog and influence as a group cement GZA as a first ballot hall of fame hip-hop artist, just off the strength of his contributions to the group, without ever having released a solo record. Luckily for us, GZA blessed us with a solo career anyway and is still delivering top-tier live performances. His debut album easily sits amongst the top 25 greatest hip-hop albums ever released (and that’s absolutely undebatable). I’d put it like this, if I were trapped on an island and could only bring five records with me, Liquid Swords would have to be one of them. Thankfully, I’ll be able to cross seeing him perform live off my bucket list—in the middle of the woods at that! (Cherry Hill, Fri Aug 5, 11 pm; Paddock Sat Aug 6, 8 pm) BRYSON FISCHER

Art in the Forest

We're so excited for you, and the inevitable moment you're enjoying some sort of substance—maybe you're just kind of sweaty and satisfied—and you happen across one of Pickathon's interactive sculptures. This year sees the return of some 2019 favorites like "As Above So Below," a glowing cone of horizontal lights that matches the movements of whomever is inside. New works include a large psychedelic snail made from recycled materials and a wall of skateboard wheels that spin and light up to the touch. We encourage you to keep your eyes peeled and find them on your own, but most are also noted with art palette icons on the 2022 neighborhoods map. SS


It’s a beautiful thing when a singer/songwriter is able to pull the listener into their orbit through lyrics. Hannah Read, lead vocalist and mastermind of the band Lomelda, is blessed with the magical ability to capture hefty emotions and fit them into tiny songs (i.e. their 16-minute LP M for Empathy). That feeling of warmth and empathy compounds ten-fold when accompanied by a band of friends who all seemingly reside on the same wavelength of tenderness.

This band is definitely the quintessential soundtrack for road trips and emotion exploration. Listening to Read convey her life through words and instruments has a way of making you assess your own life in such a pleasant (sometimes not) way. (Woods, Sat Aug 6, 3 pm; Galaxy Barn, Sun Aug 7, 3 pm) BF

Sampa the Great

Zambia-born Australian-based rapper/singer/songwriter Sampa the Great is holding it down at Pickathon for the hip-hop/R&B genres. While there are a couple exciting hip-hop acts on this year’s lineup, catching at least one of Sampa the Great’s two late-night sets is absolutely mandatory. Her eclectic, futuristic songs pull from African sounds and aesthetics, contain political, poetic, pro-Black lyrics, and it’s all wrapped up all in a shiny, glamorous package. Her most recent singles, “Bona,” “Never Forget,” and “Lane” are a glorious tease of her forthcoming album, As Above, So Below (due out in September). I look forward to watching her perform “Black Power” (in front of a majority white audience), as well as seeing what looks she and her posse are sporting all weekend. (Paddock Sat Aug 6 midnight; Woods Sun Aug 7 11 pm) JM

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