Festival Gallery: The Best of Pickathon 2019

Pickathon 2019 was full of phenomenal artists from all around the globe. With so much to take in, it was impossible to experience it all— but we’ve done our best to share with you (what we consider to be) the best of what this year’s festival had to offer. Read about out our favorites below— and while you’re at, listen to their music and view our full galleries from their Pickathon performances!

-Delaney Motter

All photos by: Joesph Hernandez

Hailing from Washington D.C. - Sneaks is a popstar from the year 3000 who has graced us in present day. The musical project of Eva Moolchan sheds the tired tropes of traditional popstar-dom and instead incorporates elements of rap, post-punk, and shoegaze. A minimalistic stage presence featuring only herself, her bass, and a backing drum machine-- highlights how much can be done with so little. Sneaks’ droning melodies and driving choruses invite us into her post-labels world, where genres are so 2000-late and anyone can be anything.

The musical project of Katherine Paul, Black Belt Eagle Scout, is a grand testament to what it means to be indigenous, queer, feminist, and truly radical. 

Paul first began her set at Pickathon with a clear message: festival organizers should be prioritizing Indigenous involvement in the years to come. All activities that take place in the United States are occurring on land that was once stolen from the native people, and while things like land acknowledgements should be common-place at large scale events like festivals - we should still be doing more. (Pickathon takes place on Chinook Land) “It’s just not that hard” she said, while speaking about her earlier request to Pickathon staff-- that they involve local indigenous communities in the future planning and production of their festival. It was an absolutely crucial reminder to us all, that while we are now fortunate to experience and appreciate this land in the United States - it is largely at the expense of the indigenous populations which came before us. 

Black Belt Eagle Scout’s music is nothing if not an extension of this sentiment. At times featuring winding, wandering guitars, at other times featuring gentle, soft-toned keyboard sounds-- a common thread of vulnerable, velvety vocals weaves through it all. 

Auckland, New Zealand four-piece, The Beths, are in the business of bringing smart, sharp-witted lyricism to sparking guitar pop riffs. Though they’re fairly ne to the game, the quartet has already figured out how to write infectiously catchy hooks riddled with smart, self-reflective lyrics. Clever-yet-self-deprecating words lay hidden in plain sight amongst driving power pop ballads, like the well-executed intentional contradiction that it is. What results is the perfect soundtrack for your summer bouts of self-loathing.  

Miya Folick specializes is paradoxical pop music. The LA-stationed musician often explores complex themes in her lyrics which seem to contradict one another - like humans’ simultaneous desire for both solitude and human connection, or her own recognition of both the good and the bad in a situation. The songs that result are sometimes brooding and swirling with moody tones, sometimes they’re upbeat, radio-ready pop ballads. Folick’s diverse spectrum of sounds ensures she will never grow stale as a performer, and truly allows her broad range of genre-bending-ability to shine.

Portland post-punk outfit Soft Kill expertly craft songs which are made to exist in liminal spaces. As they find themselves suspended somewhere between endearing pop music and industrial, gloomy, gothy tones-- their lyricism explores even more complex liminalities. Originally the project of frontman and songwriter, Tobias Grave; much of the band’s lyrics dive into Grave’s most intimate inner thoughts. As he attempts to figure out the spaces between life and death, loss and recovery, light and dark-- Grave embraces the power in his own authenticity, through and through.

LA-based band, The Marías, come to us as if they’ve floated in during a dream. An immaculate blend of seductive 70’s porno-pop and silky-smooth lounge jazz pours out of the group like warm honey from the bottle. Psych-tinged guitar riffs are whisked into dreamy, yet lively keyboard sounds to create an atmospheric take on funky, sultry pop. Vocalist María Zardoya’s buttery-soft vocals melt into the band’s pillowtop-bed of music. The resulting amalgamation easily harkens back to the sounds of 90s R&B that we all know and love, while still infusing a unique, timeless twist.

Mereba is in every sense of the term - a jack of all trades. She’s a singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, guitarist, and general all-around musician. Just when you think you’ve got her figured out, you’re going to want to go ahead and accept that you don’t. Because her multifaceted identity doesn’t just stop at what she does, she also has great plurality in how she does all that she does. A seamless blend of pop, folk, soul, and R&B aesthetics exudes from all that she does - allowing her to evade any sort of singular genre description. All of her talent culminates in a truly breathtaking stage presence, one which absolutely guarantees an enthralled audience.

Houston, Texas trio Khruangbin are experts at crafting culture-fusion funk. An effortless mixture of 70s inspired Thai psychedelia, Iranian and Mediterranean soulful funk, and subtle modern-day surf somehow ends up making sense. This scattered smattering of genres may seem odd at first, but the degree of ease with which the band pulls it off is enough to make listeners forget that their music doesn’t quite fit within any pre-existing boxes. Each member has their own special, electric-sort-of, stage presence. Yet they’re all certainly concerned with the same thing-- entertaining the audience.

Melbourn, Austrailia songstress, Julia Jacklin, is no stranger to self-reflection and consequently, self-empowerment. In her music the singer-songwriter tackles head-on, some of the hardest parts of her life: touring, existing as a feminine-presenting musician, relationships, and loss. Painstakingly-moving vocal deliveries drive home the raw nature of her art, accompanied by grand, guitar-driven instrumentals. Listeners are invited to witness Jacklin’s immense vulnerability song-in and song-out, as her incredibly intimate lyricism lays all to bare. 

Delaney Motter