SSLYBY, (not Owen), Headlights, of Montreal
My parentals came into town this weekend to ring in the Jewish New Year with me and my brother. After a pitcher of margaritas at Dos Reales and a Wisel family round of Jack Daniels shots, my drunken ass was off to hear Saturday night of the Pygmalion Music Festival.
Owen had (unfortunately) canceled, so after Tim Kinsella played a short opening set, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin hit the stage. Their recorded music is good, but I particularly enjoyed hearing them in a live setting. SSLYBY’s catchy indie rock-pop songs will stick in your mind for days-I’m even listening to them as I write this.
Headlights were next, and they put on a damn good set. All the band members are talented and played well together, but for me, Erin Fein’s voice stands out as the highlight of their music by far, and definitely one of the best parts of the night.
Now, before I talk about of Montreal, let me quickly mention that even though I’m a huge fan, I’ve only seen them live once, at Lollapalooza. I was far back and slightly blind because I chose ’80s sunglasses over actual glasses that could help me see, and I was quite tipsy on the media tent’s happy-hour beers.
I knew to expect them to be goofy, but I suppose I didn’t exactly know what I was in for. That Kevin Barnes is one wild son of a bitch. Maybe it was the simulated sex show, maybe it was his never-nude jean cutoffs, or maybe it was the fact that he looks better in a miniskirt than I do-who knows. Regardless, it was crazy, and the audience-including me-loved every second of it.
You know that you’ve seen a great show when you put the band’s CD on the second you get home-and when
I put The Sunlandic Twins on repeat until 4 in the morning, I knew it too.
Theory of Everything, Triple Whip, Scurvine
With Pygmalion in full-swing, CU-ers tuned their ears to a handful of bands at Cowboy Monkey last Thursday. Scurvine, Triple Whip, Ghost in Light, Darrin Drda’s Theory of Everything and Coco Coca provided the entertainment for the evening.
Scurvine, the headliners, garnered the most enthusiastic support, despite the fact that the crowd had significantly thinned by the time they took the stage. Whether this enthusiasm should be attributed to the distinct heaviness of their set or the potentially increasing effect of the alcohol, I leave the reader to interpret.
Triple Whip immediately reminded me just how long it had been since I last saw them. Mostly because Santanu, their former vocalist, was not on stage (I was abroad all last year, give me a break). Nevertheless, the bass and drum duo didn’t disappoint. The group really took the opportunity to showcase their instruments, which made for an energetic set. Plus, the purple Christmas lights were a nice touch.
The highlight of the night came earlier, at the end of Theory of Everything’s set. After making their way through a variety of funky and entertaining numbers, they pulled elsinore’s Ryan Groff up on stage. I had spotted him in the crowd earlier and was thrilled when he stepped up to sing. He added vocals to “White Guys with Guitars,” a track off Theory of Everything’s upcoming album Loveway.
Elf Power, David Bazan, Danielson, Man Man
After months of anticipation, the Pygmalion Music Festival finally arrived this past weekend. It was an eclectic mix of old-school and new-school indie, as well as a showcase for the best in local music. Above all, Pygmalion was an event that unified the disparate clusters of indie music fans from all over the Champaign-Urbana area for five days of wristband-wearing, band-t-shirt-posing, tight-jean-modeling and PBR-drinking fun. In short, it was the hipster party of the semester.
On Wednesday night, Elephant 6 remnant Elf Power kicked off the festival with a power-pop bang. Playing a mix of new material and old classics, the group had the small, yet attentive crowd dancing and singing into the wee hours of the night.
Friday was a showcase for two current indie stars – Danielson and Man Man. Both bands are in the midst of promoting new albums, Ships and Six Demon Bag respectively, and both have been critically applauded by the likes of Pitchfork and other major publications. David Bazan, of Pedro the Lion fame, opened up for Danielson with a warm and thoroughly entertaining performance that included conversations with the crowd about everything from Gilmore Girls to the demise of his former band.
In the wake of such a crowd-friendly performance, the beginning of the Danielson show felt considerably distant and uninviting. With their uniformed look, technical mastery and stalwart lead singer, the band seemed uninterested in the crowd that had gathered in the seats of Krannert. Only once they led into their most exciting number “Did I Step On Your Trumpet?,” did the show pick up steam and it was as if everyone in the room woke up-including the band.
Later in the evening, Man Man created a completely different atmosphere in the intimacy of the Canopy Club. In what is sure to go down as a legendary performance in CU lore, the group came out in all white (including some really tight white shorts) and full of energy. They roared through a set of raucous pop ditties and Beefheart-inspired melodies that had the entire room bouncing off the walls. It was the type of show that makes one truly realize the appeal of indie music with it’s free flow of style, madcap emotion and heart. It was pure unadulterated self-expression and a shining example of what made the entire weekend so special and memorable.
Start counting the days till next September.