We’ll be providing some coverage of this weekend’s Pygmalion Festival in Champaign-Urbana, but we wanted to give you a heads up on what to be looking forward to throughout the next few days. Here’s some of our most-anticipated sets for the weekend:
Canadian-based band Alvvays is in the position to put on one of the best sets of the festival before it even gets started. Their 2014 self-titled debut was one of the best records from that year and is one many people still listen back to. Thursday night will be a little bit of a coming home party too, with the band’s label, Polyvinyl Records, being based in Champaign. Look for them to be more relaxed and put on a perfected sonic set, playing well-respected music in a great venue at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana.
The Champaign mainstay has fallen from relevancy a bit in recent years, but the quality is still there. Much of that is due to life going on outside the band, but they released a single “Examples of Magnetism” last week that showed they’re still packing a punch. They’re hindered by an early afternoon set on Friday, about the time many people are still getting home from work and won’t be able to make it over to the festival, but if you’re there, the show will probably be one of the most relaxing of the entire weekend because of much of those same reasons. Fresh off a work week, temperatures cooling off, a sunny afternoon, and some pristine tunes to set the scene.
Wolf Parade – another Canadian band at this year’s festival – is likely to put on a memorable set. Of course, you’d expect this from one of the festival’s headliners and biggest draws, but it’s worth reiterating. There will probably be some throwbacks from the band’s first few albums, while they throw in some stuff off their latest record that came in stride with their return to live shows. They’re also playing a DJ set later that night that will be a fun time, too. Those sets always prove to be entertaining and a wild look into a headlining band outside of their natural habitat.
Poster Children’s return is one of the most looked-forward-to events this weekend for fans and historians of the Champaign-Urbana scene. Like HUM and American Football in years before, Poster Children is Pygmalion’s unique stamp on the festival’s lineup. They’re this year’s insight to the history behind the Champaign-Urbana music scene, placed there to help showcase what Pygmalion’s backdrop has to offer. It’s a nice touch the festival throws in every couple of years and it’s always a nostalgic trip for people living in town.
The hip-hop duo of Klevah and T.R.U.T.H stole the show at last year’s Pygmalion Fest and threw them into a whirlwind of a year. Mother Nature released its debut EP earlier this year and has been getting more and more attention outside the Champaign-Urbana music scene, especially with T.R.U.T.H up getting her foot in the door up in Chicago’s scene. The group hasn’t “broken through” much beyond CU yet, but big stages like this can only help that happen.
Vince Staples // Future Islands
Again, this might be a no-brainer, but you should probably check out the headliners at the festival you’re going to. Vince Staples’ Friday night set and Future Islands’ set on Saturday night will be the two most “festival-like” performances you’ll get this year. Pygmalion, of course is big, but it excels in the fact that it still feels cozy and local when you’re there – probably because the high volume of local acts it conjures up each year. But these two sets are the top two that will take you out of that feeling and change your point of view for an hour or so. It’s a cool thing to experience, realizing these festival-level acts are right there in your own backyard, especially for those living in the Central Illinois area.
Joan of Arc
This is another band with plenty of Illinois ties and really continues to push this year’s Pygmalion as a hometown affair. The setting for this show is perfect too. It’s at the Accord’s indoor stage, which will provide a tightly packed crowd with a lot of energy on a Saturday night. The festival’s decision to get rid of a Sunday portion is great for moments like these, because it virtually guarantees the crowds at every set will have some interest and excitement still bubbling inside them. For a festival on the teetering point between being hyper-local and not yet getting major attention outside the state, it’s a great move to make sure it doesn’t over exert itself. Main St. on Friday and Saturday night in downtown Champaign should be an all-around great time and will leave you wanting more from the festival, rather than the other way around.