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Highlights from Pickathon 2013

It was another incredible year out on Pendarvis Farm for this year's installment of Pickathon. Having had our inaugural visit last year, blistering temperatures and all, we knew that this year's trip would be nothing short of fantastic! With a great lineup (and cooler forecast) on the horizon, we went into the weekend with high expectations, and every single one of them was met. Here's a few highlights that made the weekend downright magical:

{Andrew Bird / by Victoria VanBruinisse}
Andrew Bird with Tift Merritt & Band

Hiking out to a stage built out of (mostly) branches in the middle of the woods to see Andrew Bird do an offbeat, slightly bluegrass-tinged set on opening night was without a doubt order of business number one for us this year. Greeted upon arrival to the catchy beats and gritty guitar hooks of Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside wafting out into the parking lot, we wandered onto the grounds and took in most of their mainstage set, immediately following it with that hike to the Woods Stage -- where we found throngs of people amassed around progressive African electro-pop band Vieux Farke, who delivered an unexpectedly blistering, make-the-whole-audience dance performance. And suddenly, a mere two hours into this year's whirlwind Farm Experience, it was already time for Andrew Bird.

{Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside / by Victoria VanBruinisse}
Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside

{Andrew Bird / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Andrew Bird / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Andrew Bird / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Andrew Bird / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Andrew Bird / by Victoria VanBruinisse}
Andrew Bird with Tift Merritt & Band

In a fit of total perfection, Andrew Bird proceeded to enrapture us with an easy-breezy Bowl Of Fire vibe that we hadn't experienced in-person before, and it was downright incredible. Living up to every ounce of expecatation we'd collectively put on him, Bird played the bulk of his hour-long set with Tift Merritt and members of her band huddled around a single mic, crooning out into the darkness to an attentive mass of festivalgoers:

And that was just the first night!

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She's So Unusual: Don't miss Cyndi Lauper at the Pantages Theater, this Sunday!

I’d like to say that seeing Cyndi Lauper in concert is a lifelong dream for me, but when I got my very own Cyndi Lauper cassette (which was my second ever very-own cassette [everyone was given Thriller as a reward for breathing at that time—true story!]), I don’t think I knew that there were things called “concerts” that people “went to.” Nevertheless, Cyndi Lauper was one of the formative influences in my reptile brain, and I am filled with joy that she is continuing to roam our fair country, promising to rock everyone’s faces off with catchy pop goodness.

And you can go see her! Fresh off her Tony Award (!!!) win for Best Orginal Score for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, she's touring with the She’s So Unusual Tour, which she launched to commemorate the 30th (!!!!!!!) anniversary of that album! And it's coming to Tacoma this very weekend. She'll be playing the entire album, top to bottom (Girls Just Wanna Have FunShe Bop, and All Through the Night!!!) "to honor and thank her legion of fans that have stood by her from the beginning." Hear that? We're a legion!

{At the Broadway Center Pantages Theater, Sunday 6/16, 7:30pm with opening band Hunter Valentine. There are still tickets left, but we’re told they’re going fast.}

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A graveyard is a doorway to love

Graveyard photo - Anders Bergstedt

Love beats death, so Graveyard on February 13th at Neumos is a fine way to usher in the red of Valentine’s Day.

Close your eyes when Graveyard starts their fuzzy-but-crisp psych-metal clatter, and you’ll think of Savoy Brown or Humble Pie, a whipped-up, throaty bellow from the 1970s. Yes, Graveyard has the moniker of a Nordic metal throwdown, and they can wield a fierce six-string solo. They skip speed and growl and instead rein in their time signatures so they have a more patient and unfurling vibe, much like their Gothenburg, Sweden, predecessors, Soundtrack of Our Lives. If you caught Ebbot Lundberg and his Soundtrack compadres back in the mid-2000s, then you have an idea of the double-kickdrum power, the big guitars, and Lundberg’s girth and proportionate yowl.

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I love this shit: Husky

As we mentioned this summer, recent Sub Pop signees Husky have taken on the world with their "meticulous, soothing, gentle-assault, looking out the train window movie-soundtrack sound", and so far as we can tell, the masses agree. Since that post, we saw Husky come through town on a bill with Shearwater, and the next time we turned around, they're premiering the very video above on Rolling Stone's website. Bravah, Heathers -- the beautiful, attention-grabbing, slow-chugging train of "Tidal Wave" deserves all the attention it can get.

Husky just played a few dates in the Northwest last weekend -- but if you happen to be out in the rest of the country {Chicago, Boston, New York and the like}, you've still got a chance to catch them live over the next few weeks. Pop on over to their Sub Pop page to take a peek at their upcoming tour dates, and head on out to the shows if you can.

Photoessay: Pickathon 2012, part II

{Pickathon 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{This is part two of our Pickathon 2012 coverage. Be sure to pop over here to catch the first half, with photos of Thee Oh Sees, Langhorne Slim, The Mynabirds, Bowerbirds, and more!}

Our second full day at Pickathon kicked off just right on Sunday, as we strolled onto the grounds around high noon to hear none other than Gordon Gano himself, along with the Lost Bayou Ramblers, blasting out fiddle-mod-ed Femmes favorites like "Blister in the Sun" and "Add It Up" out into the sunshiney, dusty heat. The crowd, artists, and media folks alike stood grinning and thrilled, and few steps to the right, the set bled right into a breezy yet energy-filled performance by Portland's Y La Bamba. We're going to go out on a limb and say it was {damn near} one of the finest festival start-off mornings in recent memory.

{Gordon Gano / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Y La Bamba:

{Y La Bamba / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Y La Bamba / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

After a bass-heavy jam sesh from The War On Drugs, indie scene crossover favorites Shovels and Rope were up, and like the Gordon Gano set, it was much to everyone's delight. There's a hell of a lot of quality sound that comes out of these two when they take the stage, as they fuse good old-fashioned songwriting with smart melodies, a strong vocal sensibility, and an infectious energy. Seattleites likely caught their set pre-Pickathon at the KEXP Concerts at the Mural series last Friday, but if you didn't, they're playing just about every day between now and September 1st in different pockets across the country. Click here to see if any of it is happening near you!

{Shovels and Rope / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Shovels and Rope / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

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Photoessay: Pickathon 2012, part I

{Langhorne Slim / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

It was an incredible inaugural experience for us at this year's Pickathon, the once-a-year celebration of all things indie roots (and indie, and roots) down on Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon. While, at times, the heat made the festival something to be endured, rather than out-and-out enjoyed -- temperatures broke 100 degrees on Saturday and hit the mid-90s on Sunday -- we still managed to have a blast.

Pickathon is just... different, something you have to see to experience. It's somehow simultaneously appealing to hipsters, hippies, families, and heads. The production of the festival itself is one of the most sustainable we've ever witnessed, with a token-for-dishware trade and "no single use" policy, exclusively local vendors and no corporate sponsorship. And the curation is so much more than just indie roots, with everyone from Gordon Gano to Langhorne Slim to Neko Case to Thee Oh Sees to THEESatisfaction taking the stages between banjo-picking sing- and stomp-a-longs. Pickathon really is one of those festivals that's stayed true to its roots while growing in size and popularity, free from car ads and jumbrotrons. We were all just up to our armpits in farm dirt, digging on tunes and having a hell of a time. And isn't that how it's supposed to be?

Here's a few photo highlights of our first day at the fest, Saturday (the weekend actually runs from Friday to Sunday). The Mynabirds were the first band to catch our ear in the main stage area, with their ethereal, jammy, layered sound. They fused their vibe with about two percent tent revival and a heaping side of synth-hipster for good measure, and it worked like a charm:

{The Mynabirds / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{The Mynabirds / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{The Mynabirds / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Next up, we caught a set by the Bowerbirds, who delivered pretty prog.indie folk songs. Worth noting: the band has a new album out as of March '12, and will be touring this fall with a stop at our very own Neumos at the end of October. More info here.

{Bowerbirds / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{The Mynabirds / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "Aw man. I want a Gordon Gano breakfast! Wait. That sounded...very bad. "

What I did on my summer vacation

{The following post is courtesy of our new friend and California correspondent, Imaginary Michelle. Take it away, girl!}
 
{Shearwater / by Michelle Hazuda}
 
For my summer vacation, I didn't take a cruise or hit the beach. I didn't go camping or visit a national park. I didn't even go to the movies or visit a single amusement park. Nope, I decided to follow Shearwater on their west coast tour instead. They are my favorite band, after all, and I am nothing if not immoderate in my devotion to music in general (and this band in particular).
 
I had seen Shearwater play tons of shows before, some with the current line-up, many more with the former, but these were easily the best. The line-up that singer Jonathan Meiburg has brought together this year is definitely more rock than previous evolutions of the band, and they are, in a word, phenomenal. Drummer Danny Reisch, bassist Christiaan Mader, and multi-instrumentalists Mitch Billeaud and Lucas Oswald laid down such a storm of sound every night that I would've sworn I could feel it at a cellular level, maybe even a molecular one. But always at the fore was Meiburg's inexorable voice, at turns surging through and soaring above it all. Even though the setlist didn't vary much (each night Meiburg played a different song solo at the beginning of the encore), I never got tired of hearing any of the songs. Everything from Animal Joy, a handful of older tunes, and one absolutely brilliant REM cover killed me every single time. As much as I loved the etherealness of earlier Shearwater records and shows, I am utterly enamored with this more visceral incarnation. It's the difference between sitting on the shore watching the tide come in and running out into the water to feel the waves crash against your chest. In January. 
 
And as if Shearwater weren't enough on their own, Husky and Grant Olsen (of Gold Leaves) opened almost every show and destroyed me a little bit more each night. Both Gold Leaves' The Ornament and Husky's Forever So ended up on my iPod before the week was out.
 
The whirlwind took me from the tour's second night in San Diego, where I braved the ComiCon crowds to catch the band at a dive-y place called the Soda Bar; to a night at the Echo -- probably the best show I've ever seen them play in Los Angeles -- to the show at Bottom of the Hill a couple of nights later (which can only be described as downright magical), where I found myself thinking, "This is it, THIS is how it's supposed to be. It's all happening!" I have never been so exultant after show, so euphoric, so in need of whiskey.

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The weekend in photos: Sasquatch! 2012, part III

{Damien Jurado at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{This is part three of a three-part Sasquatch! 2012 photo recap. Be sure to check out part one here, and part two here!}

The last day of a festival often comes with a mixture of relief and nostalgia, concurrent: on one hand, you're tired, dirty, a little dehydrated, and longing for a real cup of coffee; on the other, you've had all your synapses blown clean with set after set of incredible music and you're not quite sure you want it to end. Your own bed sounds fantastic -- but so does staying on in a weird, seemingly neverending rock-and-roll summer-kickoff camp. Sasquatch!, as with all literal and metaphorical good things, did come to an end like it does every year, but not without a final day full of awesomeness that left us counting down the days to 2013's festival. We started off nice and easy, with the comforting, warm-bath vibe of Poor Moon on the Yeti Stage, followed by a kicked-up set from Portland's Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside.

Poor Moon:

{Poor Moon at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Poor Moon at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Poor Moon at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside:

{Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

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The weekend in photos: Sasquatch! 2012, part II

{We Are Augustines at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{This is part two of a three-part Sasquatch! 2012 photo recap. Be sure to check out part one here, and part three here!}

Day three {Sunday} at this year's Sasquatch! Music Festival saw us a bit tired, a bit beat-up from the sun and the hills, and a bit gritty from the seeming "dust bowl" that was starting to kick up and cover everything with a fine dirty mist. But we forged on into the day with high spirits, knowing a slew of good bands were on tap -- and we got things started with an uppy, poppy-tight set from Hospitality and a smooth, sexy, beat-laden set from Fly Moon Royalty. While the two bands hit opposite ends of the sonic spectrum, they both shared the commonality of putting on great performances, each showcasing their respective sounds near-perfectly.

Hospitality:

{Hospitality at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Hospitality at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Hospitality at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Fly Moon Royalty:

{Fly Moon Royalty at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fly Moon Royalty at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Then, the rockin' boy-band part of the day got going, with alternating takes from Gardens & Villa, War On Drugs, and Deer Tick. Gardens & Villa were a nice transition from the upbeat Hospitality and played a bright, synth-y dream-sound set and the War On Drugs ramped it up a bit with a bigger, bulkier sound before Deer Tick took the stage and jammed it on out into the rock-o-sphere. It's worth noting that Deer Tick were on the Sasquatch! campus for the remainder of the weekend, and wound up filling the hole in the weekend left by Mogwai (who had visa issues coming into the US) with a covers-only set, bouncing whip-tight renditions of the Replacements and Nirvana out into a thrilled crowd as Monday night started to fade to black.

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Latest comment by: John in Ballard: "

Yeah, it was pretty cool. Certainly kept the crowd entertained. It was kind of funny to watch Dyme Def checking them out from the grass hill behind the stage too. 

"

The weekend in photos: Sasquatch! 2012, part I

{tUnE-yArDs at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{This is part one of a three-part Sasquatch! 2012 photo recap. Be sure to check out part two here, and part three here!}

It was an incredible long weekend at the Gorge again this year for the 2012 installment of the Sasquatch! Music Festival, which took place this past Friday {5/25} through Monday {5/28} out in the lovely, dusty, sunny town of George, Washington. After sitting through what felt like endless traffic -- three and a half hours from the highway exit to the parking lot! -- we finally found ourselves traipsing around the grounds, poring over the schedule to see what we could still catch a glimpse of before the night wrapped up. Our hopes were high for day one, but we wound up missing Yellow Ostrich and Allen Stone because of the backup -- however, we did manage to catch a litte bit of Santigold, all of Girl Talk's bright-light-infused, toilet-paper-gun-shooting, ass-kicking party set, and a good portion of Explosions In The Sky as they tore up the crowd with their wall-of-sound instrumentals before we packed it in for the night.

Here's a few photos from day one, starting with our multi-hour traffic front- and rear-view:

{Traffic at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Traffic at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Girl Talk! Gigantic, awesome, and seriously -- TOILET PAPER GUNS:

{Girl Talk at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Explosions in the Sky:

{Explosions in the Sky at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Explosions in the Sky at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Explosions in the Sky at Sasquatch! 2012 / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

We started out day two {Saturday} with high hopes for some good times, and our girl Sasquatch! did not disappoint. From start to finish, the sets were full of funk, soul, beats, lady-power, and righteousness. There's nothing quite like having a big serving of Pickwick for breakfast, and we were front and center at the big stage when they took to it at noon, dropping a seamless set to a rowdy, happy crowd. It only felt right to stay on the soul boat for Charles Bradley immediately after that, soaking in all of his modern-legend-ness. We took it all to heart, especially and extra-very-so when Charles sang those lines about "you" right out to the crowd, implying that it wasn't a love interest, but the very people who stood there bearing witness to his set. "Without you, there is no me!" he called out, and meant every ounce of it.

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Latest comment by: DurrD: "Thanks for keeping the unfortunate ones not able to attend, "in the loop". I sincerely miss the opportunities for live music down in the States. Living vicariously through your words and images....."