Once a year, Pygmalion reminds Champaign-Urbananites just how lucky we are to live in our lovely little cornfield, as it brings a plethora of new and exciting bands to local venues. This year, the festival presents the enigmatic Lord Huron, who will bring their eclectic sound to the Canopy Club this Friday night from 11–11:30 p.m.
In 2005, Lord Huron’s original solo member, Ben Schneider, traded the sweet, dewy air of northern Michigan for the grit and smog of Los Angeles in pursuit of a career in the visual arts. Haunted by his memories of home and campfires under the Michigan stars, he found himself instead combining two loves: music and the place after which he would later name his project — Lake Huron. Since then, he has continued to create music that effortlessly captures the ineffable quality of his summers by the lake, while continuing to work on a variety of projects on the west coast.
Five years later, Schneider returned home to Michigan where the projects he had been working on in L.A. seemed to culminate on the shores of Lake Huron. He recorded his first EP, Into the Sun, which was later released online. Soon after, the internet was abuzz, and Schneider began looking for musicians who would help him bring his music to life on stage. He convinced childhood friends Mark Barry and Tom Renaud to relocate from Michigan to L.A., and with Miguel Briseno and Brett Farkas (also from Michigan), Lord Huron played their first show in August of 2010 after the release of their second EP, Mighty, and continued to tour extensively throughout 2011, playing large festivals and teeny clubs alike.
When asked which setting he prefers to play in — large festivals or intimate venues — Schneider stated that while the communal excitement and celebratory vibe at festivals certainly held its own merit, playing at smaller venues allows him an opportunity to not only connect with his audience and get a better sense of how his music is being perceived, but also to play a longer set. Schneider seemed disappointed in only having a thirty-minute time slot at Pygmalion, but promised to make it worth our while.
“You get a shorter set at festivals, which gives you less time to connect to your audience,” explained Schneider, “so you have to make it as rich as possible.”
Schneider went on to say that Lord Huron’s set will showcase songs from the band’s first full-length release, Lonesome Dreams (due out October 9, artwork above). The new songs have the same ethereal aesthetic of his earlier EPs, but have a much more epic quality due to the fact that Schneider approached the album as a collection of short stories that recall the Wild West and loves lost, and that are inspired by his own journey west as well as his collection of Louis L’Amour novels. The influence of Schneider’s childhood by the lake also comes across in the tidal swells heard throughout the album, while the lyrics capture what Schneider refers to as the “lawlessness” of another Wild West — L.A. Songs like “Time to Run,” “She Lit a Fire,” and “Ends of the Earth” combine the sincerity of Bon Iver with the carefreeness of Paul Simon’s Graceland, while conjuring imagery you might expect to find in a Steampunk fantasy written by Wes Anderson. “So far,” he states, “reception has been good.”
Friday night’s set before Lætitia Sadier and Best Coast promises to be one of the highlights of the weekend, and, luckily for us, there are no conflicts with other performers during Lord Huron’s set. Even if you plan on catching Dirty Projectors across town, you’ll have 45 minutes to make it to The Canopy Club before they begin, leaving you with no excuses for missing this set.