Sudan Archives on the Mt. Hood Stage at Pickathon 2019

Sudan Archives on the Mt. Hood Stage at Pickathon 2019

Gerard O’Sullivan/opbmusic

Pickathon’s final day Sunday was hot and dusty, brilliantly eclectic, and at times circumspect as artists and fans became aware of the terrible news of mass shootings elsewhere in the country over the weekend. Pickathon is a festival that invites artists and fans to interact like no other – while writing about the Sudan Archives set I just watched, I ran into her at the merch table browsing through items for sale – but this year in particular, artists and festival-goers seemed to be trying to process the news and find a way to carry on with the show.

Sudan Archives is the project of LA-based Brittney Parks, who constructs elliptical minimalist music from the simplest of elements, electric violin and looping. I’ve seen her perform before and been perplexed by droning, open-ended improvisations that made a textural imprint more than a satisfying listen. But her main stage set Sunday was full of melodies and grooves built on crackling abstract noise, layers of violin and dampened xylophone-like patterns. Parks’ expansive voice was compelling enough to pull the audience to the front of the stage, and she had most of them dancing along with her in the mid-afternoon heat. – David Christensen

Sudan Archives on the Mt. Hood Stage, Pickathon 2019

Sudan Archives on the Mt. Hood Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Damien Jurado at Pickathon 2019

Damien Jurado at Pickathon 2019

Gerard O’Sullivan/opbmusic

Damien Jurado is a masterful songwriter with a flair for writing lyrics that have incredible depth. His latest folk album, “In The Shape Of A Storm,” doubles down on that quality. It’s headphone music that rewards listeners who are willing to give each song intense focus. The fans who caught his live show at the Woods Stage on Sunday seemed to know exactly what to expect (and how to act). In the dappled afternoon shade, Jurado played solo with just an acoustic guitar for over an hour to one of the quietest crowds I’ve ever seen at a festival. It was a meditative, soulful performance and a welcome reprieve from the dust, heat, and piercing guitars found elsewhere at the festival grounds. – Jerad Walker

Nap Eyes at Pickathon 2019

Nap Eyes at Pickathon 2019

Gerard O’Sullivan/opbmusic

Sunday early afternoon was already shaping up to be a hot one (literally), but I still forced myself over to the (sunny) Mt. Hood Stage to catch Nova Scotia’s Nap Eyes, whose recent “I’m Bad Now” has been one of my regular go-to lazy Sunday records. Their elegantly crafted slacker rock did well to ease the Sunday crowd into the festivities, even as the heat was rising. Singer Nigel Chapman’s lyrics are full of clever turns of phrase that sneak up on you and bounce around in your head all day (“I can’t tell what’s worse / the meaninglessness, or the negative meaning” goes the chorus of album opener “Every Time the Feeling”), and I found myself chewing on several of them as I went about mine. I left happy and sweaty, and I’ll look forward to throwing on their record again next Sunday. – Mike Dempsey

Fruit Bats on the Mt. Hood Stage at Pickathon 2019

Fruit Bats on the Mt. Hood Stage at Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Fruit Bats, the long-running band fronted by Eric D. Johnson, played a lively set of glammy, relaxed, country rock at the Mt. Hood Stage. The hometown crowd seemed to appreciate their performance which leaned heavily on the group’s deep back catalogue, despite the fact that they just released an excellent new album called “Gold Past Life.” The set also included a surprise appearance form Sarah Versprille of Pure Bathing Culture who provided backing vocals that were shockingly tight. She later told me that this was a reunion of sorts as she used to tour and occasionally sing with Johnson’s group when she was a member of the band Vetiver. – Jerad Walker

Fruit Bats at Pickathon 2019

Fruit Bats at Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Lucius at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Lucius at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Lucius at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Lucius at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

In the cooler glen around the Woods Stage, a large crowd gathered to see Lucius, whose lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig perform in identical twin-style outfits, replete with rhinestones and glitter, and sing achingly close harmonies into dual microphones inches apart. Their set Sunday was underlaid with acoustic guitars and a string section, which gave an intimate warmth to their glossy voices. They covered ‘70s AM-radio act Gerry Rafferty, and later gave a musical nod to “Purple Rain.” Bringing the set to a mellow close, Wolfe acknowledged the shock and weariness of the news so many were feeling or holding at bay. She asked the audience to show empathy and kindness for those we meet, including strangers. “It’s so small, so simple. That’s our dream regardless of your political views or where you came from. We’re all in this thing for such a short time, but we’re all in it together.”

After Lucius, I wandered out of the woods to the hillside Treeline Stage, to catch the last few songs by Katherine Paul’s band Black Belt Eagle Scout. In my headspace thinking about Lucius’ words, Paul’s songs about very personal grief felt like an elegy, and the band finished with the gloriously cathartic song “Sam A Dream” with its emotional guitar jam to end the set. – David Christensen

Black Belt Eagle Scout on the Treeline Stage at Pickathon, 2019

Black Belt Eagle Scout on the Treeline Stage at Pickathon, 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Dan Mangan in the Lucky Barn at Pickathon 2019

Dan Mangan in the Lucky Barn at Pickathon 2019

Gerard O’Sullivan/opbmusic

Although he’s based just up the road in British Columbia, Mangan was playing his very first Pickathon. The songwriter was warmly received at the Lucky Barn where he and his band played a beautiful, low-key hour of music to an adoring crowd that openly clamored for an encore. Between songs, Mangan chatted with journalist Kathleen Tarrant and told stories about his kids (they’re cute), what it’s like when you get your music equipment stolen (it’s not good), and meeting Sir Paul McCartney (he sheepishly ignored his hero’s music advice). – Jerad Walker

I will admit to heading to the Galaxy Barn on Sunday afternoon after hitting the infamous “Pickathon wall:” a moment that most festival attendees hit in the high heat of Sunday, when filth and exhaustion gets a bit overwhelming and the temptation to call it a weekend is strong. Festival organizers have finally figured out the Barn’s air-conditioning system, so despite it being a legendary sauna-like atmosphere in previous years, it was something of a respite in 2019. I was fortunate to be able to combine that relief with the charged positivity of new hip hop and R&B group &More, a collaboration between Philadelphia’s Donn T and Chill Moody (who brought along a tight drummer and a tighter backing track). Beats are often hard to come by at Pickathon, so I was grateful for this opportunity to bob my head and cool down. I left their set energized and ready for the night ahead (for a few more hours, at least). – Mike Dempsey

Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

The most arresting performance I saw Sunday was by the band Jupiter & Okwess, who turned the heat and dust-addled Woods Stage crowd into a sweaty, head shaking mass in motion for an hour straight. Jupiter Bokonodji was born in Kinshasa but lived for a time in Berlin (his father was a diplomat), and his music is an electric mix of old and new, with a heavy dose of funk. If you came expecting the flickering guitar patterns of popular Congolese Rumba artists like Papa Wemba, this was something else entirely. The band led the crowd in extended call and response sequences in what I think was Lingala, spoke to the audience between songs in French, and needed no translation. I was mesmerized by the bass player wielding a handcarved solid wood bass guitar that looked to weigh 25 pounds. The drummer wore an elaborate hood throughout the show, and an artist backstage was sketching the drummer during the set. Joyful, transcendent and exactly the kind of experience you would find at Pickathon. – David Christensen

Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

An artist's sketch of Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

An artist’s sketch of Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Jupiter & Okwess at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Yob at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Yob at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Gerard O’Sullivan/opbmusic

Yob at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Yob at the Woods Stage, Pickathon 2019

Gerard O’Sullivan

Dust and light, Pickathon 2019

Dust and light, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic

Mandolin Orange closing the Mt. Hood Stage, Pickathon 2019

Mandolin Orange closing the Mt. Hood Stage, Pickathon 2019

David Christensen/opbmusic