And so we come to the last day of the festival, featuring official headlining act Roky Erickson, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Cap’n Jazz, Caribou and a bunch of other great bands. Then it will all end and we’ll go back to our regular lives until next September, not worrying about music for a second until then.
Most Difficult Choice: Local Bands vs. the National Acts
Admit it, you haven’t seen as many local bands as you wanted to. You told yourself before the festival that you would make an effort, but it’s been hard to choose the band you can see two weeks from now in your sister’s basement over a band that may never come to town again. And who are you going to skip today Ted Leo? Roky? Cap’n Jazz? Caribou? Well, the good news is Saturday afternoon four local bands are playing at Exile at a time when no other festival shows are occurring. And Saturday night there are tons of great local acts playing all over town including The Viper and His Famous Orchestra, Zach May and the Maps, The Dirty Feathers, Withershins, Kayla Brown, Take Care and more. You don’t have to choose local over national every time, but once or twice might be good for your soul. And here’s a dirty little secret: some of these local bands are pretty damn good.
(members of the Dirty Feathers, Take Care and Withershins pictured above in photo by Dave Mendoza)
Easiest Choice: Roky Erickson/Caribou
Here’s the part where I totally ignore everything I said in the previous section.
I could pretend that I’ve known about Roky Erickson’s music forever — or that I’ve seen the infamous documentary that examines his struggles — or that I think “I Walked with a Zombie” is a good song, but those would all be lies. Still, to quote Matthew Demarco’s feature on Roky, this is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to see someone whose music has influenced thousands of bands. Maybe we’ll all walk out afterward and say “that was disappointing,” but much more likely we’ll all walk out and say “that was transcendent.”
Caribou is a pretty inspired choice to cap off the festival. Many people fondly remember their blistering show at the Illini Student Union a couple of years ago, but this time they’re playing at a real live concert venue! And the band is touring behind the album Swim, which Daniel Snaith specifically created to get bodies moving. With Caribou, the live shows always emphasize live drums over manufactured beats — always a good thing. This is your last chance to let go; there’s nothing left after this one.
Worth Checking Out: Drink Up Buttercup
This Philadelphia band sort of does to the Beatles what Man Man does to soul and R&B. That is to say they use the Beatles as baseline for almost all their songs, but then they pile on the weirdness and deconstruct the whole thing. And like Man Man, this is a band that really excels in the live setting. Apparently, they’ve been known to tear apart mannequins on stage. How can that not be worth seeing once?
Local Spotlight: Take Care
Take Care is part of a group of local bands playing Saturday night at the Canopy Club that have dubbed their show “Pygmalion Local Showcase.” (The other two are Withershins and the Dirty Feathers). The trio is part of an emerging group of C-U bands that, while distinctive in sounds, seem to share a common attitude. That attitude can best be described as “it’s ROCK ‘N ROLL, mother fuckers!” Here, we talk to lead singer/guitarist Mark Wyman about the band’s plans and the impetus behind the Local Music Showcase.
What has Take Care been up to lately? I believe so far you’ve only released the one 12″. Are you working on recording any music?
We did a split 12″ with our friends Community College, who are also playing with us at Pygmalion. Making that record, and touring with Community College was so much fun. We went all over the East Coast, and had a blast!!
We just started the recording process again. On the split, I did about 90% of the engineering and mixing, and it was just too exhausting. This time we told Colin and Isaac from Withershins that they have to help. Which is kind of cool because I know Colin is a Pro Tools genius, and Isaac is just off the wall with ideas. Right now the one song we recorded is 12 minutes long, and we’re throwing around the idea of doing another split with Withershins before we release a full length for ourselves…we’ll see. We’re kind of trading duties, as I am doing some production on some of the Withershins new stuff.
You’re billing your show with the Dirty Feathers, Withershins and Community College as “Pygmalion Local Showcase.” How’d you all decide to do this?
I think when we decided to, we felt like we had to. We are all becoming super close friends, and when Cap’n Jazz got moved to Krannert, I know Seth did what would be second best for all of us. We’re making fun fliers, doing interviews, Withershins did WEFT sessions, we did some photos with our buddy Dave Mendoza. Basically the rock scene is becoming SO tight again. It’s just an amazing time again for Champaign music.
Is there any concern that you might put off other local bands at the fest by billing your show as a “local music showcase” when there a several other shows heavy on local acts?
Not really. Hot Cops are doing their show at a different time, so are Tractor Kings. Kayla Brown is playing indi go earlier on Saturday. Fresh Kills are playing Exile. You can basically still see every local band.
Can we expect any surprises?
Ha. you can always expect surprises. Maybe some old tricks, robots, rude signs for the other bands, who knows. Expect something and keep one eye open.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the fest?
Built to Spill will be sweet. I’m an Old Ted Leo fan. Cap’n Jazz is one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ll try to see Roky if I can. His life story is amazing, if you haven’t checked him out you owe it to yourself. Janelle is nothing short of amazing, and her come up is also kind of interesting.
Note: According to the schedule, the Chain Gang of 1974, originally scheduled for 10:30 p.m. at Cowboy Monkey, has cancelled. Also some of the local acts have been switched around. I’d tell you to check out the festival website for more info, but it seems to be down again. Maybe someone in the know can update us in the comments section.