Pygmalion Music Festival: An Interview With Founder Seth Fein

Although writing about the final festival of the summer season brings me down a bit, just looking at the Pygmalion 2012 lineup makes it all better. Festival founder Seth Fein has jam packed the 3 day festival with the big name likes of Grizzly Bear, Dinosaur Jr, Dirty Projectors, Sleigh Bells, and Best Coast, along with local acts Common Loon, Elsinore, and Santah. 54 bands will make their way to the Champaign-Urbana area overall, and you can catch all of them for the price of $100. To buy a festival pass, click here.

The great man that brings all of this to the generally quiet (maybe not quiet anymore) college town is Seth Fein. The Smile Politely founder (Champaign-Urbana’s independent online magazine) and Nicodemus Agency owner is a very busy man, as the titles show. Luckily he answered a couple questions for ACITM, which should help you learn more about the festival and CU’s musical savior himself. Check it out after the jump!

ACITM: I know you get this all the time, but a lot of our Chicago readers don’t know. This venture started in 2005, what was the motivation behind starting this in the CU area?

Seth Fein: Well, I was born here, raised here, started my first band here (Absinthe Blind, and then Headlights), went to school here (at both Parkland and UIUC), and fell in love with my wife here. Basically, here is perfect. Champaign-Urbana is about as perfect of a place as one can be, in my estimation. The community is strong. The people are nice. The music scene is illustrious and historical. And above all, no one had ever put on a festival before. I just saw a gap and filled it. I’m not special, despite what my Mom, Grammy, and Bubbe all had to say about me. Not special. Just, you know, on the ball, in that arena.

A: If you could narrow it down to 3 or 4 all time, which groups are you most proud of booking for the festival?

S: Yo La Tengo – 2008, Grizzly Bear – 2012, Cut Copy – 2011, Yeasayer – 2007.

Photo by Charles Nadolski
Absinthe Blind Canopy Club show in 2001. Seth is the fly lookin dude on the left

A: The festival seems to be growing every year, what are the plans for Pygmalion’s future?

S: I want to keep it growing, but not so much in terms of attendance as I mean in terms of the level of quality. I’ve always been dead set on the idea that I want the festival to reflect the intimacy of our community, and I intend to keep it that way by limiting ticket sales and only allowing for measured growth. I love what we offer our patrons: an affordable festival, with cheap drinks, great sightlines, and a true Midwestern experience.

A: Are you aware of the Pyggy crown we awarded to Mansions on the Moon last year? How does it feel to have such a prestigious award directly linked with your festival?

S: I saw that! Personally, I wouldn’t have given the award to Mansions on the Moon. They were a great band, but compared to the likes of Explosions in the Sky, Cut Copy, and The Luyas, I think there was some tough competition. Who will win this year? It’s anybody’s guess!?

A: Now some fun stuff, last song played on your iPod?

S: “Omnibus” – XTC off of Nonesuch

A: Artist not together anymore that you wish could play Pygmalion?

S: That’s an easy one: Slowdive. Their last album was called Pygmalion, for which the festival was named.

The early 90’s English band, Slowdive

A: What was your first concert?

S: Farm Aid – 1985. Hard to beat that.

A: First concert on the CU campus?

S: I suppose Farm Aid, but I was 5 years old, so I will go with Paul Westerberg, 1993, Foellinger Auditorium. Walt Mink opened and completely owned it.

A: Give our readers a must see band this year that they’ve never heard of.

S: For me, it starts and ends with the local band Common Loon. Sure, they are my best pals and I represent them, but it’s for good reason: they could blow most any band performing at the festival right the fuck off the stage. Mark that.

Common Loon

Be on the look out for more Pygmalion coverage coming soon! Thank you to Seth Fein for taking the time to answer our questions!

Tickets for Pygmalion 2012 are available here.

1 Comment

Filed under Events, Features, Michael, Previews

One response to “Pygmalion Music Festival: An Interview With Founder Seth Fein

  1. Maggie L

    very cool michael!!!

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