Staff picks for Pygmalion Music Fest

Photo Courtesy of Animate Objects

Photo Courtesy of Animate Objects

By Phil Collins

There is no doubt the lineup for Pygmalion Music Festival was taken up another notch this year. While the festival continues to be a haven for local artists, it is also able to get up-and-coming bands from around the world to come strut their stuff. Heck, they were even able to get one of the best indie rock bands of all time, Yo La Tengo, to headline the festival. This festival is the one chance Champaign-Urbana has to get this much music concentrated into one area, and being able to see them in nontraditional venues, including Red Herring and Blues BBQ, should be a treat for visitors. There is a lot to take in, but anything taken in will be well worth it. While more than 60 bands will be performing at the Pygmalion Music Festival beginning today, a few stand out above the rest.

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down

This mouthful of a band will be playing at the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign, Friday night. The band, based in San Francisco, is usually labeled as alternative folk. Their sound is a relaxed one, with all the acoustic sounds one would ever need to unwind after a long day of class.


Another act worth looking forward to. This band, based out of Norman, Okla., last played in Champaign-Urbana in March. The band’s sound is best described as “spacey,” and their shows are a visual feast of strobe lights and fog. The unique stage presence of frontman Josh Jones is also a big part of the act. Evangelicals take the stage at the Krannert Art Museum Thursday evening.

Dan Deacon

After Evangelicals, head over to The Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, quickly, because Dan Deacon takes the stage there later Thursday night. The Baltimore-based Deacon is quite possibly the headline act of the entire festival and is known for his energetic sets that often turn tightly packed audiences into a sweaty, jumping, ecstatic mass.

His unique brand of chaotic dance music often attracts large crowds. Deacon’s performance at the 2007 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago was shut down by the Chicago Fire Department after becoming overcrowded, so fans are advised to arrive early.


Things get off to a quick start Wednesday with Decibully among the acts at the festival’s opener. The Milwaukee band fits well into the soul and folk-rock arenas. Their album “Sing Out America!” has had me wanting to see them live again, now that I know their songs better. Check out “Live by the Lake” at The band plays Wednesday at The Canopy Club at 12:30 a.m. (I guess that makes it Thursday morning). Common Loon starts that show at 10:30 p.m.

Catfish Haven

This Chicago band has a flair for the type of soulful grooves that get you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. The trio has a new CD called “Devastator” coming out October 7, so it’s likely they will bust out some new songs during their set. The group plays Thursday at the Krannert Art Museum at 7:15 p.m. Oceans starts that show at 6:15 p.m., and the night will also feature Oxford Collapse, Evangelicals and Murder By Death.

Animate Objects

The Champaign-based group brings full-band hip-hop to the table. Fronted by Czar Absolute, the band raps about “riding in fast cars with your momma” among other things. Check out “El Dorado” at for a taste of what’s to come. The band plays Saturday at Red Herring, 1209 W. Oregon St., Urbana, at 10:45 p.m. It’s a full night of hip-hop with AMS starting it off at 9:45 and Krukid and Treologic playing later in the night.

Yo La Tengo

For 24 years, this Hoboken, N.J. trio has been putting out records, each one different from the last. Known for their varied styles, they can range from guitar rave-ups to salsa to melancholy ballads. Any of their records are good starting points, but the band is known to shine live, creating quite a noise for three people. Yo La Tengo will be performing at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

The M’s

Chicago indie rock band The M’s has been around for some time, and their new record, “Real Close Ones,” contains all of their trademark sounds: propulsive rhythms, catchy melodies and just plain good songs. This may sound like an apt description for many bands, but The M’s formula is simple (which should make the description valid), and it works. Their sound translates well to a live setting, and it should be good vibes all around. The M’s will be performing at The Canopy Club at 10:45 p.m. Saturday.

Black Mountain

These guys are able to take their late 1960s influences (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, just to name a few) and make something original and fun out of it. Their newest record, “In the Future,” can seem like one long chugging rhythm, but there is enough to keep the close listener interested. The show should not be missed, especially for any fan of hard rock or those nostalgic of the “good old days of music.” Black Mountain will be performing at The Canopy Club at 12 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning.