Smile Politely

Your guide to music at PYGMALION 2017

PYGMALION 2017 is kicking off this year with Dewclaw and PechaKucha Night at 51 Main on Wednesday night — and it rolls right into Thursday night with a true first big day of the festival. Plenty of amazing musicians to check out in the festival’s 13th year — you may only discover them when they’re performing live in front of you this weekend. So, to help with that — here is a list highlighting a few musicians from every night to help you get a bit more familiar with the lineup.

THURSDAY, September 21st

Julien Baker (above) makes her way back into town to perform at Pygmalion 2017 after performing at the Accord earlier this year in front of hundreds. Recording her first album at 18 with some friends, she combined melancholy guitar with vocal melodies that sung powerful and honest poetry.

For Fans Of (FFO): Kevin Devine, Owen, Petal, Waxahtchee, Bon Iver

Check out her newest single “Appointments”:


Thundercat, briefly a member of Suicidal Tendencies, worked on Kendrick Lamar’s epic studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly, and his solo albums share similar influences from that record. He released a new record, Drunk, to critical acclaim earlier this year. Although he brings psychedelic, funk, bass, and jazz together in a very different way on his solo albums.

FFO: Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Funkadelic, Busdriver

Check out “Oh Shiet It’s X”:

Snayl is local to the Champaign music scene, they build up songs into an atmospheric and hypnotic soundscape, yet still find breathing room within their complex soundscape to create dynamics feelings to their songs.

FFO: Tycho, Bonobo, Brian Eno, Explosions in the Sky

Check out “Dreaming of [Ghosts]”

CJ Run is a singer and rapper studying at the University of Illinois. Changing back between rapping and singing brings an extremely unique energy to every song they write. A perfect performance to watch after Thundercat finishes up across the street. CJ Run will kick off the show at Canopy Club with Smino.

FFO: Mother Nature, Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, Frank Ocean 

Check out “Spaghetti”:

FRIDAY, September 22nd

Animal Collective (above) brings together eclectic elements of music that can only be described as experimental pop music — their music carries a feeling that resembles the innocence and good feelings of childhood, all the while exploring the strangeness that is life.

FFO: Atlas Sound, Dan Deacon, Grizzly Bear, of Montreal

Check out “My Girls”:

BadBadNotGood combines elements of jazz with R&B and pack it up in a very powerful and energetic performance. Their recorded albums feature a lot of collaborations, that makes listening to every song just that much more unique.

FFO: Madvillain, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Esperanza Spalding

Check out “Ray Gun”

El Ten Eleven has always treaded a careful line between complex and accessible, it gets even more interesting when you consider the band is only two people, yet you’d never be able to tell from listening to an album of theirs. It always tells a story through the evolution of melodies.

FFO: And So I Watch You from Afar, Chon, Tycho, the XX

Check out their live performance of “Yellow Bridges” and yes, he does indeed tap on both the guitar and bass at the same time.

ZXO is a band native to Champaign and they bring psychedelic tunes to the stage, yet do so in a unique way. Guitar melodies that play off each other, while a soothing vocal comes on to relax you, all drenched in some very sweet reverb.

FFO: Tame Impala, Foxygen, Deerhunter, Ducktails

Check out “Drugs”

SATURDAY, September 23rd

SuperDuperKyle (above) combines elements of pop with hip-hop to create, clever word play with infectious melodies you find yourself humming all day. You might know him from the song “iSpy” with Lil Yachty.

FFO: Vic Mensa, Vince Staples, Childish Gambino, Ab-Soul

Check out “The Force”:

The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die — a band with a very long name as well as a lot of members — but this only lends to songs carrying various influences from its members. You can always tell when it’s a TWIABP song, yet every song has a uniqueness you can’t quite place your finger on.

FFO: Foxing, Into It. Over It., A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Tiny Moving Parts

Check out “January 10th 2014”

Noname tells a poetic story through music, sometimes while listening to her album Telefone you can’t tell if the music influenced the album or if the poetry did. They blend that well together.

FFO: Lauren Hill, Andre 3000, Chance the Rapper

Check out her NPR Tiny Desk Performance:

Sleeping Okami is a local band from Urbana, you can’t quite call them jazz, soul or folk, since they fuse these and so much more into a fun and captivating performance. It’s a great way to start Saturday Night.

FFO: Chet Baker, Esperanza Spalding, Charlie Parker, Andrew Bird

Check out “Alchemy”

PYGMALION takes place September 20-24, mostly in Downtown Champaign and Krannert Center’s district in Urbana where music is concerned. Check out the whole schedule and get tickets here.

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