Written by Brad W. (@Brad_C_Williams). Photography by Robert Marohn.
Champaign’s annual Pygmalion Music Festival is always one of the biggest music events of the year. While Porter Robinson and Ab-Soul had great performances, those who were able to attend last weekend’s festival experienced the 10th anniversary to this cornerstone three-day celebration. Admittedly, this year’s lineup did not include many artists we would normally feature on our site — performers consisted mostly by indie, punk, alternative, and EDM artists. Here at UPC.FM, though, we’re all about giving you new music you may enjoy. So, in that spirit, we give you a recap of the Pyg and our favorite performances of the weekend.
Sun Kil Moon’s emotional performance resonated with the crowd. While demanding the lights dimmed, barking at press photographers to leave mid-performance, and lightly making sexual banter, Kozelek demonstrated to the sold-out crowd why his artistically narrative and stream-of-conscious songs resonate with today’s listeners. Highly suggest giving his critically acclaimed 2014 album Benji a listen (especially if you’re having a sad boy kind of day).
Following Sun Kil Moon’s emotional rollercoaster, Panda Bear gave the audience a very different emotionally charged high. Chest-rattling bass, intense flashes from strobe lights, and acid trip inspired visuals set an overwhelming environment for the performance. Playing songs from his albums Person Pitch and Tomboy, Lennox’s sporadic and crazed performance left the crowd energetic. While his albums are drastically different than his live show, I still enjoyed his set.
Unfortunately, XXYYXX had to cancel his Pyg set due to travel delays, as flights were grounded in Chicago. Therefore, many of his fans went to EMA’s performance instead, and she absolutely killed it. Her drone-like sharpness and passion surprised me! I would not have ever picked up her album, but I highly suggest giving this South Dakota native’s highly blogged-about release The Future’s Void a spin after what I saw Friday night.
Following Friday night’s introspective sets, I was excited to see whether Chicago’s punk pop group Twin Peaks’ thrash would go over with a CU audience. Don’t let their latest record Wild Onions fool you, these guys rock and roll to the bone. Belching into the microphone, singing with cigarettes – these guys brought a gnarliness not seen in any other rock group this weekend.
Brooklyn’s indie-pop synth-rock collective Miniature Tigers were one of a kind. From the lead singer’s strawberry lapel and a bassist in suspenders to a synth player who made out with the lead singer and complimented an audience member’s Death Grip’s tee, I struggled at first to understand the vibe of their set. However, they put together an upbeat and memorable show for all who attended.
As one of the opening acts for Saturday’s headliner, Tycho’s set was the extreme opposite of Miniature Tigers. What they lacked in physical intensity, they made up with in preciseness and musical authority. Everything about Tycho’s performance was captivating, which I was not suspecting, as their last album Awake was very chill-wavvy. It was a pleasant surprise and great transition for the act to follow.
With songs like “The Mother We Share” and “Recover” dominating the indie charts in 2013, Chvrches was not-so-secretly the biggest draw of the weekend. For their first headlining performance, Chvrches had an overwhelming light show. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry, standing between her two bandmates on risers, let the chrowd on boisterous singing and dancing. Admittedly their album The Bones of What You Believe is not one of my favorite album of 2013, but I will give in a few more listens after Saturday’s performance.
I will not go into detail about Sunday’s performances, as I was only able to attend for part of the day. I would strongly advise readers to check out black-metal group Deafheaven’s 2013 record Sunbather as well as Champaign’s own and second headliner American Football (reuniting for their first tour since 2000).
Yes, I am an avid hip hop junkie, and I do not normally listen to genres like punk, metal, or folk. Nonetheless, music festivals like Pygmalion are refreshing for us. They give people like myself a chance to broaden their musical horizons, socialize with fans of said genres, and give their ears a break from the Juicy J’s and Rick Ross’ of the radio. If the opportunity arises, I would definitely attend this unique Champaign-Urbana event in the future and recommend it to all our followers.
Were you also at the festival? Let us know what we missed at @UPCdotFM or in the comment section below!