Smile Politely

Run The Jewels to headline The Pygmalion Festival 2015, plus more additions announced

The Pygmalion Festival‘s lineup is adding more bands, authors, speakers and vendors — and we’re announcing that one of the most critically acclaimed hip-hop duos will be headlining the festival in 2015: Run The Jewels. They owned about every year-end list last year for their stunning follow up to their self titled debut, Run The Jewels 2.

Back in May, we announced the initial lineup, which included RIDE, Stephen Wolfram, Purity Ring, Adrian Matejka, Sylvan Esso, tUnE-yArDs, and plenty more.

Tickets and single show tickets are on sale now at the festival’s website.

Find the lineup below, complete with Music, Lit, and Tech announcements. — Patrick Singer



There was no better rap album released in 2014 than Run The Jewels’ second album, Run The Jewels 2. There, I said it. And a lot of other people believe the same thing. The career projection of Killer Mike and El-P’s rap duo was relatively meager five years ago, yet today, they stand among hip-hop’s best. RTJ presents rap music with a confrontational and political edge. They’ve been playing a ton of festivals this summer, and from what I hear, their shows are constantly surprising. They even succeeded in bringing Zach de la Rocha out of retirement for a track. And if its good enough for that, it’s damn well good enough for me. — Boswell Hutson


Ha! Very funny, right? This festival being in Champaign-Urbana, with the neighboring Savoy to the south. Well, this is the Denver’s trio Savoy, and they pack a punch, no doubt. This is an outfit that would fit on a bill at Summer Camp or Lollapalooza, and will make a great fit on the bill for this year’s Pygmalion Festival as a late-night party of sorts. “Mo Lazers, Mo Problems” — I get it. (PS)


Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson was announced as an addition to the festival a few weeks back, but he’s most definitely worth mentioning again here. His most recent record came out this year, entitled Love Songs for Robots, and prior to that, Watson recieved the prestigous honor of the Polaris Prize for his 2007 record Close to Paradise. Check the records he defeated: Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, Feist’s The Reminder, and a couple of others. Whoa. (PS)


Moon Duo is a two-piece (shocking based on the name, I know) band from San Francisco formed by Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada. Over the course of their six year career, the band has explored vastly different sounds, ranging from very full, almost orchestral complication to minimalist songs. I plan on catching this show for the sheer variety – and of course I know there will be good music, too. (BH)


No, it’s not Braid. It’s Braids. Plural. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way — this band is a sleeper favorite of mine to have one of the best sets at the festival this year. Naturally, a female singer and electronic production leads one to believe that this band may be a CHVRCHES or Naked And Famous clone that doesn’t seem to innovate, but for Braids, that’s simply not the case. I guess you’ll just have to check them out for yourself to see what I mean. (BH)


Caspian, you could say, is the staple post-rock outfit that can carry a serious amount of weight in this year’s Pygmalion Festival lineup. If you haven’t listened yet, please do yourself a favor, as well as be on the lookout for their new record coming out a few days prior to their performance at the festival called Dust & Disquiet. (PS)


At this point in time, it is really OK to look at Nick Diamonds‘ (aka Nicholas Thorburn) projects as things of the past. Islands put out some terrific records, and The Unicorns have achieved pretty much everything necessary to maintain the “cult” band status. Though, this isn’t one of those “wow I need to see this guy because he’s in these bands I’ve loved” or something. I mean, go back and check out those bands, sure — but Diamonds has plenty of material to deliver, including some new tunes in 2015. (PS)


We know, we KNOW — Owen is, indeed, on the bill this year. Don’t let the first announcement trick you. Mike Kinsella made his splash last year with American Football on top of doing his annual stint with his solo project Owen. We love him for that. (PS)


Ever since Smith Westerns broke up, I’ve been looking for a new dreamy-pop band to fill the void – which is when I stumbled upon Pure Bathing Culture. Though they’re not as loud as SW, the music definitely works as a calming agent during any situation. The only thing that would make it more relaxing was if they could bus in some sand and build a beach for Pygmalion this year. One can dream. (BH)


Some of you may recognize Diane Coffee as the drummer from one of the most trendy indie bands of the past couple of years: Foxygen.  With sounds that seem like they came straight out of the 20’s  or maybe the 40’s — Diane Coffee is bound to be interesting at the very least. (BH)


When it comes to relatively well-known rappers, it’s rare that any type of hip-hop figure has any connection to Champaign-Urbana (though Ludacris was born at Carle, so there’s that, I guess).  The shining exception, of course, is Psalm One — a graduate in Chemistry from the U of I.  In addition to that, she is signed to Rhymesayers, the label created by Atmosphere, and perhaps the most vibrant indie hip-hop label in the country. If that’s not enough interesting stuff, I don’t know what is. (BH)


Hailing from Nashville — perhaps the best music city in America — Pujol has built up a steady midwestern buzz of late. I can’t really compare them to anything exactly, but there are certainly heavy traces of Interpol, Against Me!, and Japandroids. That’s not a bad combo. (BH)


In case you missed them, Wild Ones performed not too long ago at a packed house at Mike N Molly’s — so don’t miss them here. They’re a very catchy indie pop band that will make your face blush. (PS)


Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires are what rock n roll should be. Loud, raucous, and fun, with an attitude that matches. These guys are bringing a perfect blend of Gulf Coast rock to C-U and it ought to be a good time. (TP)


NE-HI have been to C-U before as part of the Pygmalion Show Series and if you missed out on that show you’re lucky enough to catch them again. Their brand of warm, fuzzy, and summer-y guitar rock is worth watching with a cold beer. (TP)


Gary McClure was in Working for a Nuclear Free City, a popular band from Manchester, England. He moved to the Midwest and seems to have found his real home and was inspired to write a wonderfully lo-fi record in a similar vein as Bon Iver. (TP)


The Australian duo Big Scary was formed in 2006 by Tom Iansek and Joanna Syme, and their last album, Not Art, came out a couple of years back.


Combining the quirk of Watsky with the a clever lyricism style more likened to Chance the Rapper, The Palmer Squares are a duo of emcees from Chicago who have been steadily building a cult buzz in one of the country’s most important hip-hop realms.  Their 2013 mixtape, Finna, propelled them into Chicago’s indie limelight, including features from Saba and Kembe X – two of Chicago’s biggest burgeoning stars. Though I’ve never gotten to catch one of their live shows, I’ve heard they’re a treat. Cheers. (BH)


Heat is a Montreal quartet that calls 70s punk and 90s UK psych into one. (PS)

LOCALS (listed alphabetically)

  • AMPlifi
  • Bookmobile!
  • Boycut
  • Church Booty
  • Concerned Fathers
  • Dalipop
  • Dirty Dis$co
  • Elsinore
  • Euriah
  • Adam Fein
  • Jorts
  • Kenna Mae Reiss
  • Krucial
  • Motes
  • Northern Border
  • Not For the Faint of Heart
  • Paul Doffling
  • Resinater
  • Take Care
  • Terminus Victor
  • Wolves to Whales


After the initial announcement of the inaugural Tech component for Pygmalion Festival, there are more to announce:


Steve LaValle is most well known for his work as a Principle Scientenst for the Oculus Rift technology before it was acquired by that social media platform Facebook for a few billion dollars. Yeah, that’s him. He’s currently a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Karin O’Connor is the founder of Perimeter Advisors, an advisory firm that assists owners of promising mid-market companies with planning and execution of value enhancement strategies, and is also an active investor in and advisor to early-stage companies and entrepreneurs. O’Connor recently served as Managing Director of Hyde Park Angles, Chicago’s largest angel investor network and has been a member of the group since 2009.  She has invested in fourteen deals with HPA and served as the group’s representative on the board of portfolio company FeeFighters, which was acquired by Groupon, Inc. in 2012.  She is currently a Director at e-commerce start-up Moxie Jean and also co-led HPA’s investment in Intellihot Green Technologies. 


Zavian is a Designer at Deep Silver Volition, focusing primarily on System Design, specifically on the interaction between a video game’s systems and the Player Experience. Through quick prototyping of gameplay and friendly but firm rallying of teammates, Porter strives to ensure that the games he helps create are full of tight, fun, and easy to understand experiences. He started at Volition in 2008 as a QA Tester on Saints Row II and transitioned into being a Designer in 2011 for Saints Row IV.


Mark Scifres is Founder and CEO of Pavlov Media, which he started while working on his engineering degree at the University of Illinois in Champaign.  Mark comes from a family with a strong engineering background. As part of his work as CEO, he led the construction and deployment of a network that provides television, broadband and other services to tens of thousands of apartments, hotels and other MDU’s (Multi-Dwelling Units). He also led the wireless mesh deployments in Champaign, Illinois and New York City, which includes the free downtown wireless project in Champaign.


Justin Hill founded Prominic.NET in 1998 with Jon Schultz to provide expert hosting with world-class support for small and medium businesses. Their local support makes their data centers some of the most robust and reliable.


Cate Kompare is a UX Designer Lead at Pixo Chicago. She was drawn to UX by a desire to connect volumes of people to volumes of information and she is able to do just that. Kompare joined Pixo in 2013 and helped launch their new Chicago office in 2015.


Adkins is a brewing tech at Goose Island‘s micro lab, and worked at Anheuser-Busch’s Brewing Technal Center, which is the lab where research is done for North American breweries for improving efficiencing and solving brewing problems.


Bill Morgan is the Head Brewmaster at the Bling Pig Brewery. He’ll be participating in the Brewing Technology panel planned for the Tech component.


In year three, the Lit component of the festival continues to thrive, and they have announcements to make in round two as well. Check them out.


Ladan Osman is the author of The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony, winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and published this year by the University of Nebraska Press. Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter, American Life in Poetry, Artful Dodge, Narrative Magazine, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, and Vinyl Poetry. Her chapbook, Ordinary Heaven, appears in Seven New Generation African Poets: A Chapbook boxed set. She lives in Chicago.


Marcus Wicker is the author of Maybe the Saddest Thing (Harper Perennial), selected by DA Powell for the National Poetry Series. Wicker’s awards include a 2011 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, and The Fine Arts Work Center. His work has appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review,Third Coast, Ninth Letter, and many other magazines. Marcus is assistant professor of English at University of Southern Indiana and poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review. He serves as director of the New Harmony Writers Workshop.


I had an opportunity to see this Third Man Books author, Janaka Stucky, perform at Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City a few months back, and it was incredible. Prepare to be floored, Lit Fest fans. Stucky is the publisher of Black Ocean, as well as an annual poetry journal, Handsome. Check out more about him here, and this is a must-see at the festival this year.


From Passarello’s website: Elena Passarello holds a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Her essays have appeared in Oxford American, Creative Nonfiction, Gulf Coast, Slate, Iowa Review, and Normal School. New essays are forthcoming this year in the anthologies After Montaigne and Cat Is Art Spelled Wrong. 


If you get a tip of the cap from Lena Dunham, you’re probably doing something right, right? Well, I’m sure at this point in time Chloe Caldwell might be a little tired of that, but at the same time, soak it up, no? Her latest novel, Women, is decribed by Short Flight/Long Drive Press as “a novella about falling in love with a woman, about loving women, about being a woman. Check out our interview with Caldwell here.


Contributors to this article include Patrick Singer, Tom Pauly and Boswell Hutson.

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