Pickathon 2012 Day 4
Lake Street Drive, Neko Case, and More
Standing in the beer line backstage the night before, I had the exceptional pleasure of meeting pretty much the nicest guy you can 2000 imagine named Alex. Much to my surprise, leaving the venue the next day after Sonny and the Sunset, I see Alex up on Fir Meadows stage with electric flute in hand as a member of Genticorum. Come to find out, all three members of this band are witty, talkative and pretty much make up the nicest band at Pickathon. This classic Fiddle band, from Quebec, uses traditional instruments, such as a foot bass, which they note as “the most important”. Not the style of music I would necessarily seek out, their music is captivating and you can’t help but smile and tap your foot to this timeless genre. A story accompanies most songs and we all have the pleasure of hearing the “first psychedelic country song from Quebec” which was about a group of birds having a party “much like Pickathon”. Genticorum performs with a beautiful stage presence and serenade the audience – who at the moment have ear to ear smiles – with one of the most gorgeous 3 person a cappella songs. Even Los Cojolites walks by, on their way out from backstage, displaying grins and thumbs ups to the harmonizing trio of Canadians.
Any one member of this Lake Street Drive possesses more music talent in a single finger than I could ever hope for in a life time. But then, I am practically tone def. This Brooklyn, NY based quartet quickly ended up being one of the outright crowd favorites at the festival. The lead vocals by Rachel Price are spot on, very jazzy and livened up with quite a bit of surprising soul seeing as she is a white girl from the east coast. Her petite frame is one of which leaves you curious as to how a voice like that can come out of stature like that. Mike Calabrese, on drums, offers a rich timbre in backup vocals to the mix and has a ridiculous talent of using the tambourine as if it was a drum stick. As sick as I was of seeing yet another stand-up bass at this festival, Bridget Kearney was pretty damn fun to watch and provided perfect and lively backup vocals to augment Price's melodies. Guitar and trumpet were played by Mike “McDuck” Olsen, who presented the audience with some memorable solos on the trumpet and wonderfully talented guitar playing. Preforming their third and final set at Pickathon, the group appears humbled by the overwhelming cheers from the audience. The crowd chants, shouts, and practically begs for an encore. As a few members come back out, only to retrieve their equipment, the crowd freaks out. Not only until Rachel appears at the bottom on the stage frantically waving her hand and mouthing “GET OFF THE STAGE!!” does the stage empty and the crowd comes down from their high – apparently encores are not allowed during all but the closing acts at Pickathon!
Playing on the Fir Meadow Stage, the Vera Cruz, Mexico, based band, Los Cojolites preform traditional music from that region. Having seen them in the dust-ridden Woods stage the day prior – where they were extremely talkative and playful (even after being detained the night before at the border on their way to Pickaton) – I began to wonder if the mummer I overheard was true; that they did tie one off the night before and this was the “We’re fucking hung-over and are preforming in weather that is hotter than home” attitude. Regardless of lacking the same charisma as the day before, Los Cojolites gave a wonderful performance. The female dancer is considered a percussionist with her rhythmic stomps on the raised wooden platform. She is accompanied by her male counterpart for a few songs, which launches the crowd into hoots and hollers while the two synchronize their side-by-side stomping. The sound from this group is worldly and with the combination of the heat, it almost transports you to another place and time.
Finally, it isn’t “throw me in a fucking river already” hot out. My feet are so dark you might question my Scandinavian background. I can still see the dust, restlessly floating through the air, reflecting in the stage lights. But, I don’t care about getting even dirtier at this point of the festival, I’m about to see Neko Case preform. As she is introduced, the shoulder-to-shoulder packed crowd screams in excitement and then falls to a whimper once Neko reaches center stage. Just as quick as the crowd quiets in anticipation, Neko showcases her fine-tuned wit with a sharp response of, “everyone get super serious now”, followed by a spirited laugh. She quickly says hello and goes right into “That Teenage Feeling”. When finished she lets out a huge scream. The crowd eats it up and breaks into cheer.
In the meantime, I quickly regret my decision to give up the photographer's seat I’d been saving for him stage-front to my new found girl-crush – a certain diva-type performer. This swiftly backfires as a long winded conversation ensues over my right shoulder as an over-eager-I-have-no-concert-etiquet cello player gabs Rachel Price's ear off for the entire first half of the show making it entirely too difficult to fully enjoy Neko’s perfect pitch and charismatic stage presence. So sorry Neko, for missing out on your complete amazing-ness due to a certain, now ex, girl-crush.
Neko and her back up singer, Rachel Flotard, have incredible banter back-and-forth on stage and are incredibly engaging with the crowd. While talking about Tacoma, Neko’s place of residence, she states, in a husky-man voice, “Tacoma made me a woman”, while Rachel finishes with, “But Clackamas will make you a man”. There were so many lines like this that these two candidly spurted off including a a reference to Neko's own “scabbed uterus” which made the crowd react hysterically, but made me fall a little deeper in love with her. All and all, the performance was more than I could ask for from this mature, well-seasoned band: spot-on, light-hearted and a little raunchy. In other words, perfect. –
……Sexy-times-dancer, we hope to see your amazing dance-y, noodle-y moves again at a park, festival or any mildly-warm event sometime real soon!!!