Seven Acts to Catch at Pickathon 2023
Welcome to DC's annual Pickathon post!
I get so excited about this wonderfully experiential music festival every year, and once the set times drop, I love nothing more than sharing my plans with any readers who wanna join me down at Pendarvis Farm for the long weekend.
My writing about Pickathon changes from year to year, and some of you may recall that in 2022 it took the form of a day-by-day breakdown of who exactly to see, and when. I've decided to run a preview piece again this summer to help all you festival planners out there, but I'm keeping the format a bit looser. Below, I've detailed seven acts I am prioritizing when planning my Pickathon schedule. I will no doubt see more than just these seven acts across the weekend, but when I print my out PDF and uncap my highlighter, these names are getting marked first.
Artists are listed alphabetically (not ranked or anything like that), so read about each of 'em, listen to those audio samples, and note when and where they'll each be playing. Oh, and you can click on their names if you'd like to be taken to their Pickathon profiles. Happy reading and listening, and see you down at the farm for the best weekend of the year!
Florist is a band that gets featured a lot on DC, so regular visitors to the site likely know how much I adore Emily Sprague's quartet. They released their self-titled album last summer to much critical acclaim, and personally, it was one of my favorite offerings of 2022. You can hit that hyperlink to read my full thoughts about Florist (the album), but in a nutshell, it's a sort of sound collage of nature-based field recordings and hushed folk tunes. Listening to it, you feel like you're right in the room with the band, and I can't imagine a better group to witness playing a nighttime Woods Stage set.
Florist plays Friday night from 8:00 - 9:00 on the Paddock Stage, and Saturday night from 9:00 - 10:00 on the Woods Stage.
Lord knows I love a good hardcore show, so every Pickathon I'm sure to catch the heaviest band, whoever they are. Like, if you watch the Soul Glo videos from 2022, I'm one of those sweaty bodies smashed up front, and after YOB in 2019, I honestly thought I broke my hand. Seriously though, it's a good time and people in the pit are really chill. This summer I'm excited to watch GEL, a wild group of Jersey punks. It sounds like (and looks like) their performances foster community over scene toxicity, but they'll also pummel listeners with blistering bursts of noise. Whoowee! Meet me Sunday afternoon to get some energy out!
Gel plays Saturday night from 9:00 - 10:00 in the Galaxy Barn, and Sunday afternoon from 4:00 - 5:00 on the Grove Stage.
A Red Lake Ojibwe member raised down in Minneapolis, Joe Rainey blends traditional Pow Wow music with drum blasts, noisy distortion, and electronic glitch. Rainey's own vocals are at the center of his songs, but he also utilizes field recording of other Indigenous singers, and these voices combined with Rainey's experimental dips into a wide variety of sonic stylings results in powerful music, which feels altogether unique. You won't hear anything else like it at Pickathon this year, so be sure to make at least one of his two performances.
Joe Rainey plays Thursday afternoon from 12:00 - 1:00 on the Grove Stage, and Friday evening from 6:00 - 7:00 in the Lucky Barn.
This Asheville-based singer-songwriter (who is a member of the band Wednesday, but more on them later), sings about hustling to get the grill out of the rain and Jordan's famous "flu" game. He bemoans the time he ate too much at the fair, and in another song, relays a story about his dad spotting Dan Marino in public. Lenderman will often wind these shooting-the-shit attention-grabbing lyrics into deeper topics, and his storytelling paired with catchy alt-country hooks is what makes him one of the most exciting up-and-coming acts to catch at Pickathon this summer.
MJ Lenderman plays Friday afternoon from 3:00 - 4:00 on the Woods Stage, and Sunday evening from 5:00 - 6:00 on Cherry Hill.
OH you KNOW I'm going to shout out Rich Ruth every chance that I get! A longtime friend of the site, Ruth gets the Pickathon stage all to himself this summer after coming through with S.G. Goodman in 2022. Well, I suppose he'll bring his bandmates too. Ruth released his album I Survived, It's Over on Third Man Records immediately following last year's fest, and if you're a fan of kaleidoscopic swirls of new age + spiritual jazz + kosmische, his sets will be must-see events.
Rich Ruth plays Friday evening from 7:00 - 8:00 on Cherry Hill, and Sunday evening from 5:00 - 6:00 in the Galaxy Barn.
THC is the rap project of Vonne Parks and Andre Gainey, and though they hail from Tampa, their sound is a mash of various subgenres, both domestic and international. The duo's musical knowledge has been described as "encyclopedic" (they were both DJs before they became MCs), and it shows on their most recent album, Finally, New. You might hear a Florida take on UK drum & bass, only to be yanked in a completely different direction when THC decides to pivot. It's gonna be a frenetic set, and I'm looking forward to their Woods Stage set on Sunday.
They Hate Change plays Friday evening from 11:00 - 12:00 in the Galaxy Barn, and Sunday afternoon from 3:00 - 4:00 on the Wood Stage.
You remember in the intro to this piece when I said that this list of acts was unranked? Like no naming favorites or anything like that? Well I fucking lied! WEDNESDAY is the band I'm most looking forward to catching at Pickathon 2023. Rat Saw God is my second favorite album released so far in 2023 (read my thoughts about it here), and the album's second track, Bull Believer, is frontrunner for my favorite song of the year. So loud. So good. I'll most definitely be at both of their sets, head-bopping to along to Handsome Man and scream-singing "FIIIIIIIIIIINNISH HIIIIIIIM!!!" during the set-closer.
Wednesday plays Saturday evening from 8:00 - 9:00 on the Paddock Stage, and Sunday evening from 9:00 - 10:00 in the Galaxy Barn.
So there you have it folks - seven (of the many) acts I plan to check out at Pickathon 2023. Come find me during the fest and let's hang! I'll be posting throughout the weekend, and shoot me a message on IG if you wanna meet up.
A big thanks to the organizers who work so hard to put this festival together every year, and who trust me to provide a lil Pickathon press. I super appreciate it.
See you on the farm!