What a wonderful, exhausting, awesome 5 days. It was my first of I hope many Pygmalion Festivals, and I was treated to a great lineup, enthusiastic crowds, weird hipster dancing, and a photo pass (pictures are here if you don’t want to read show reviews). Texas’s own, Explosions in the Sky, headlined the first night, with the rest of the festival boasting acts such as Cut Copy, Toro y Moi, Washed Out, MiMOSA, and the Hood Internet among others.
Who would win the 2011 Piggy Crown?
ACITM’s path of the “Favorite Show of Pygmalion” Crown a.k.a Pygmalion Highlights
Easter may only have 4 songs, and they do shuffle around actual band members every once in a while, but Kyle Lang and company were a very pleasant surprise early Thursday night at the Canopy Club. Dedicated Easter groupies (Lang’s friends from the University of Illinois) showed up in full force and turned the set into a high energy, fun basement like show. They opened with “Absence” and ripped through their songs so quickly they found time to cover a Roy Orbison song halfway in. These guys might be the only band in the world that could race the Black Lips in set speed and actually have a chance to win.
Closing with “All The People That I Loved The Most,” (the opener on their free CD “Demonstration”) and turning the Canopy Void room into a mini mosh pit (that ended with Brian Galeckie jumping into the crowd while playing trombone), Easter left me wanting more and more. They’re fun, their music makes it okay to break out dancing, and Kyle Lang is really talented. After seeing two Pygmalion shows, Easter held the top spot for “Best Show I’ve Seen.”
Easter held the title for about 6 hours, until NewVillager took the stage at the Channing-Murray.
I had the chance to interview NewVillager, and in the interview Ross Simonini said “I’d like our shows to feel like a unique social environment.” Thursday night was just that. All three members took part in decorating their stage and the area in front of it (where they set up an art installation similar to their work at the Temporary Culture exhibit) for about twenty minutes before doing sound check. When their art installation came to life during “How to Get Back,” whispers in the crowd ranged from “What is going on?” to “Oh my God, I didn’t know someone was in there!” Members in the crowd even took turns trying on a mask and dancing around. I’d say the unique social environment thing was already checked off.
Their music was what shined brightest though. The band went through most of their self-titled debut album, with the energy never once taking a dive. Lead singer Ben Bromley has a powerful voice, at times giving you the feel you’re at a soul concert. “Cocoon House” and “Shot Big Horizon” live were incredible – as if a symphony of thirty plus were playing at the small church – and during “Lighthouse” Bromley jumped into the crowd urging people to start dancing and singing. These guys put a lot of thought into everything they do, and the live show was definitely one of the best of Pygmalion. It was going to be hard to beat…
Surprisingly it was Washed Out that took the crown formally worn by NewVillager, a little over 14 hours later at the Canopy Club. I personally thought a Washed Out show would consist of lots of fog and lots of swaying back and forth by everyone wearing big hipster non prescription sunglasses. It was way different, as Earnest Greene has a particular energy to him on stage that I can’t quite pinpoint. He jammed out on his Ipad as if it were a Stratocaster and he were Slash, he twisted and turned his body as he squeezed out every note like it was his last breath, he ran around stage enticing the crowd with claps and jumps like a hype man at a Jay-Z concert… he really has a good time on stage.
The band managed to turn an album that was described as “delicate” and one that sounds great only out of earbuds, into one that sounded great live. A bass player, a guitarist, a drummer, a full band made this way more than Ipod music. Greene paid tribute to the ’80s ideology behind his music with steamy trip-hop vocals, and intoxicated the crowd with Within and Without‘s “Far Away” and “Eyes Be Closed.” Would anyone be able to top Earnest?
Nearly 20 hours later, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin laid claim to the ACITM Piggy Crown. It was the first time I saw the band live, and in short, I actually bought their cd after the set (this never happens). Philip Dickey sounds even better live than he does on the record, and the band was refreshing after a night of underperforming DJ’s at Canopy. Plus this was at the Highdive’s outdoor stage, at the Polyvinyl 15 year Anniversary.
“Glue Girls” is one of the band’s strongest songs, showcasing their talent to create catchy hooks and melodies that either get you tapping your foot or shaking your thang like yo body goin insane. One or the other is promised if you see these guys live. Dickey and Jonathan James (the two pictured above) gel on stage like they’ve been playing together their whole lives (they almost have been), which creates a type of family feel among SSLYBY. It also makes for entertaining sets when each member rotates around the stage playing different instruments.
My only complaint – during one of their best songs, Dickey said the song was dedicated to 4 missing girls from the ’70s from Missouri. He then ripped his sweater to reveal a shirt with a headline of “Missing” and the pictures of the girls below. I cannot remember/find this songs name anywhere. This has killed me this past week.
Yes, that’s right. The 2011 Piggy Crown went to Mansions on the Moon, a band you need to listen to if you haven’t yet. There may have only been about 20 people at Canopy for the relatively early slot, but the ones that were there were treated to banger after banger from the N.E.R.D. backed band. They make dance music that is comparable to Diplo and Washed Out mashed up, but live they might just be better than both. Ted Wendler has an intoxicating voice (actually really reminiscent of Earnest Greene, hence the same description) that is backed by Ben Hazlegrove on the keys (and laptop) and Lane Shaw on the drums. Hazlegrove and Shaw are constantly bobbing their heads, backing up Wendler every now and then on the vocals, and are dedicated to the music (neither going off for crazy solos that don’t belong anywhere near the song, allowing Wendler’s voice to shine).
They played songs from the Diplo x DJ Benzi Paradise Falls album (which is available for download for free! here), that featured remixes from Diplo himself, Xaphoon Jones, Willy Joy among others, remixing Mansions on the Moon songs. Truth be told I wouldn’t be surprised to see these guys on the Perry’s stage at Lolla in a couple of years, because their music is based on how the crowd decides to take it. A void room spot early Saturday night at the Canopy probably wasn’t the best for these guys since they are relatively new with a small following, but they definitely impressed regardless.
The Pygmalion x ACITM Piggy Crown Champs…Mansions on the Moon