Further proving that Midwest music festivals are best, Champaign-Urbana’s Pygmalion Music Festival (which takes place September 16-19) has become a shining star in the overpopulated festival scene due to it’s unique atmosphere and diverse line-up. Unlike most large music gatherings, Pygmalion is not located in a huge outdoor field but takes place in many different indoor venues on and around the University of Illinois campus (making it the dream festival for the lazy college student). The festival’s practice of turning bars, clubs, cafe’s, record stores, and art centers into venues likens Pygmalion to Austin TX’s massive SXSW and provides an infinitely more intimate experience than most festivals. Pygmalion also specializes in diversity of bands with rock, folk, pop, hip-hop, dance, and experimental music all represented in the line-up.
The festival creators have said they want the phrase “I saw them when” to be synonymous with Pygmalion, and they do so by attracting a plethora of heavily buzzed, up-and-coming artists. The line-up for Pygmalion Festival seems to get better each year and 2009’s line-up tops them all. The festival will be headlined by famed folk singer-songwriter (and Twilight-soundtracking) Iron & Wine who is sure to captivate the audience with his gorgeous acoustic tunes. Other artists appearing this year include Ra Ra Riot, The Antlers (Lindsay’s faves), Low, Japandroids, RJD2 (as heard on the Mad Men credits), The Books, Lucero, Wavves (with possible on-stage breakdown), YACHT, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Headlights, Autolux, BLK JKS, The Hood Internet, William Fitzsimmons, and My Brightest Diamond.
Each show is presented in an intimate venue giving the audience an opportunity to see bands, that they may have only seen in a large outdoor, setting face to face (I know this is the case for me with Iron & Wine). The festival is arranged so that just about anywhere you go on campus you can hear great music and while there are 70+ bands playing the schedule is spread out enough that you could probably see half of them if you were motivated enough. But hey, if you’d rather not roam around campus scoping out all the different bands, they also make it easy to stay at the centrally located Canopy Club (the university’s premiere music venue) and see all the headliners for the night. Separate tickets are available to all of the shows and you can snag a festival wristband that gets you into every show for a very affordable 60 bucks. In closing, if you’re looking to hang out on one of the best college campuses and hear some great music then Pygmalion Music Festival is the place to be on September 16-19. Mark your calenders.