Smile Politely

The Pygmalion Festival 2014: Friday in review

Mark Kozelek probably doesn’t even want me to write about how Sun Kil Moon played at what he jokingly called the “Polygamy” Festival this year. He didn’t want any photographers taking pictures of him, or bright lights shining in his face either. By now these are things we expect of him. What would a Sun Kil Moon gig be without Kozelek cracking a few slightly un-PC jokes? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it would be better. I can see why he does it — if he didn’t put on that asshole persona and try to make jokes, the experience would be almost unbearably sad. It’s already tear-jerking. But sometimes you want to be sad and listen to Sun Kil Moon — I know I do. He’s so fucking talented I’d rather he not try to be a comedian and play his songs and just let me cry.

If Sun Kil Moon was tear-jerking, Panda Bear was terrifying. His VJ (Video DJ) Danny Perez is largely responsible for this. Panda Bear himself gave a great performance, highlighting the vocals that make Animal Collective so good in the first place, but the live-mixed visuals completely overtook him. And that was ok. The way he was set up, minimally, his back to the huge screen and a few strobes around him made me think, “Dude, do you even see the wild stuff going on behind you?” The video was perfectly synced to the music, with perfect transitions as well. Plus, the setting in the Tryon Theater at Krannert Center made the experience akin to seeing a film. A very scary film with a very rad soundtrack. Sun Kil Moon and Panda Bear put on my favorite performance at Pygmalion so far this year because of the emotional response they elicit from their audience. There is nothing more a concertgoer could ask for.

I was planning on heading over to the Red Herring later for Single Player and Speedy Ortiz, but as xxyyxx had to drop, that show was moved to Canopy Club, putting locals Single Player in front of the biggest crowd they’ve ever played for. I know Sean Neumann, frontman, personally and I know how nervous he must have been to be put in this situation, but I have to say—he aced it. His head down, just like any other Single Player performance, he played a healthy mix of his catalogue of songs, including fan-favorites like “#4”,“21” and “Jen”.  The people in the crowd were paying attention. This wasn’t a “smoke-break” set. But I think Speedy Ortiz might have been. 90s-worship can only get a band so far in my book, and by the time they went on after 1 a.m. I have to say I lost my patience for it. I did hold out for the end of their set and they seemed to save their more catchy upbeat songs for the end, which is probably a bad move when you go on so late.

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