Pygmalion: New Festival Changes Make For a Better Experience

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Pygmalion Festival wrapped up another steady year last night with a relaxing close to the music portion of the weekend. It was difficult to not notice the disproportion of empty parking lot space to the amount of people walking around, but unlike last year, the headliners drew crowds to their sets and were all-around entertaining. The fest set a nice precedent for the years to come with a two-weekend format that solved the “tired Sunday” problem that was so prevalent last year.

There was great representation across the board. It really felt like there was something for almost everyone to look forward to with different genres and generations of artists, plus there was a good mix of settings for shows. Even within the same demographic, there was some give and take. Future Islands – one of Sunday’s headliners – undoubtedly has a lot of crossover between Wolf Parade fans, but it also dipped into about a 10-year difference within that crossover. It was a well-rounded bill that, even though it didn’t have the punch of a Dinosaur Jr.-level group or an American Football-level attraction. Recently reunited Champaign group Poster Children put on the best show of the weekend, along with AJJ, while Joan of Arc might have been the biggest disappointment.

The move to get rid of Sunday and make it a two-weekend event was a great all-around move for the festival, though. It not only saves the fest from ending on a sour note with a lacking turnout, but also sets the precedent for expansion – which has been a focus in recent years, with the addition of things like Tech and Made fests and now a second weekend. Next year seems like it will be promising, having the experience of hosting the festival for two weekends and now building on that format. Pygmalion’s a great time of year for everyone in Champaign-Urbana who loves music, so it can go without saying that we already can’t wait for next year to start taking shape in the spring.

Weekend takeaways:
– You have to feel for bands playing too early in the day, like Elsinore on Friday afternoon, but every day of the fest has to start somewhere.
– Bands performing guest DJ sets are underwhelming. Mixing the Lit and Music portions of the festival to allow for open Q&As with select artists would be pretty interesting, though.
– I really miss the downtown Urbana setting for the festival, whether that’s outdoor stages or just venues like The Rose Bowl and The Iron Post.
– “Where are all the people at?” It’s a question that continuously came up all weekend and it seems like it’s been a frustrating fix with the question lingering for two-straight years now.
– Great to see a little mix-up with local acts, giving bands like Snayl, Penny Horses, and Kowabunga! Kid an opportunity.
– Krannert’s a really tricky venue to maneuver for bands playing. Most of them are uncomfortable and it makes for a really weird show most of the time. The lobby proved again to be a great stage for the last set of the night.
– There were a lot of issues with sound on the outdoor stages.
– Man, what I’d give to see Poster Children play in Champaign-Urbana again sometime soon.

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