The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Pygmalion Festival returns to CU for 2023

The Daily Illini Photo File
CU community come together during Pygmalion performance on Sept. 27, 2018. Pygmalion will be kicking off on Friday with performances from Kangaroo Court and Divino Niño.

The Pygmalion Festival will be returning to Champaign-Urbana this year from Sept. 21-23 and will bring a variety of musicians, authors, artists and more.

The annual festival began in 2005, starting as a music festival and eventually expanding to include other forms of art and entertainment. 

The festival takes over Champaign-Urbana music venues for the weekend, with shows happening at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana, Canopy Club and multiple stages within Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Notable past performers at Pygmalion include Bob the Drag Queen, Beach Bunny, Eric Andre, Playboi Carti, Lucy Dacus and Major Lazer.

The festival was founded by Seth Fein, who currently runs the event with co-director Patrick Singer. This is Singer’s 11th year helping to produce the festival.

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    “It started as predominantly a music festival,” Singer said, reflecting on the history of Pygmalion. “But this happened before music festivals were really as big as they are now in major markets … it was mostly a collection of club shows that happened.”

    Pygmalion began to transition into something more by adding comedians to the lineup, and eventually authors as well as local artisans.

    “We’ve kind of evolved to incorporate things like technology, comedians, podcasts, other sort of experimental ideas that don’t fit the traditional festival model,” Singer said.

    Singer said the new creative side of Pygmalion came not only from his and Fein’s personal interests, but from a certain need to evolve as festival and artist prices rapidly increased over the years.

    “​​Pygmalion has kind of morphed throughout its lifetime, but we feel like it’s leaned up for the good, and proven that we’ve been able to keep this thing sustainable through an ever changing industry,” Singer said.

    The new, more creative Pygmalion has allowed for more diversity within the shows, and helped the event expand its horizons. Singer described diversifying the festival programming as “genuinely fun.”

    We were just honestly looking for some more creative outlets that were things that we like, and things that would reflect a more cultural, comprehensive approach to events,” Singer said. “We were just looking for ways to grow.”

    The annual event adds something different to the Champaign-Urbana artistic scene, as artists from around the area and even around the world are brought in to showcase their talents for the community’s enjoyment.

    Singer said he loves making Champaign-Urbana a little bit of a better place with his part in the festival.

    This year’s Pygmalion Festival will include a diverse array of shows. A complete schedule of all festival events can be found here.

    The festival will kick off on Sept. 21 with back-to-back performances from drag queens Monét X Change and Alaska 5000 at Krannert Center’s Foellinger Great Hall.

    Monét X Change is known for winning the fourth season of hit show “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.” The Brooklyn native additionally released her first album earlier this year, “Fist of Glory.”

    Alaska 5000 has placed on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and won the all-star version of the show as well in its second season. She has over 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and has released five albums since 2015.

    Chicago rock band Ax and the Hatchetmen will be performing on the opening night of the festival as well at the Canopy Club on campus. The performance is the first of the group’s upcoming tour, which will continue through November. More information on the tour can be found here.

    Friday will kick off the Made Fest portion of the festival, which will take place outside of Rose Bowl Tavern while various musical performances and other presentations carry on throughout the day.

    Made Fest artists will be present in the form of an open-air market on Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday from 1-8 p.m. 

    Artists will include many local groups like Champaign Pottery Babes, the Urbana Museum of Photography and the Parkland Studio Collective. Individuals such as modern artist Araised Banner and glass artist Allie Janae will also be present.

    Former local band Kangaroo Court will be performing indoors at Rose Bowl Tavern on Friday night. The group was voted as Smile Politely’s best new band of 2021, and their punk rock style has brought them over 100,000 streams on their most popular song “Something’s Gotta Give” on Spotify.

    American-Columbian rock band Divino Niño will take Rose Bowl’s outdoor stage on Friday. The Chicago-based rock band will also be taking this show as a stop on their current tour, of which more information can be found here.

    Saturday will see the continuation of the Made Fest and musical performances, with some more literary presentations taking place throughout the day as well. 

    The Human Library experience will be occurring from 1-5 p.m., in which participants can converse with one another and volunteers about a certain form of discrimination they have faced throughout their lifetime, with the goal being reading a “human book.” 

    Faculty and students in the University’s creative writing program will be sharing readings at the same location from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    For musical shows, lead vocalist of pop band Chvrches Lauren Mayberry will be performing outdoors at the Rose Bowl Tavern Saturday evening. 

    Chvrches headlined Pygmalion in 2014, but Mayberry will be performing on her own this time as she recently stepped away from the band to pursue a solo career. Her debut single “Are You Awake?” will be released on Sept. 1.

    Tickets to the festival can be purchased online here.


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    About the Contributor
    Maaike Niekerk, buzz Editor
    My name is Maaike Niekerk, and I am a sophomore majoring in English with minors in music and journalism. I began working with The Daily Illini during the fall semester of my freshman year as a buzz staff writer, and joined the editorial team last summer. I love bringing live event coverage to you from Champaign-Urbana’s vibrant music scene and sharing stories of local artists and musicians. Outside of The Daily Illini, you’ll find me performing at every football game with the Marching Illini or cycling with the 2024 Illini 4000 bike America team.
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