Smile Politely

PYGMALION 2017: Saturday in review

Palehound played to a sizeable and engaged crowd on the 51 Main stage. They play that brand of grungy, punky, lo fi, indie rock that could fit comfortably almost anywhere in the last 30 years. At various points, to various degrees, I was reminded of Mazzy Star, Bully, and Veruca Salt. That said, Palehound is decidedly its own thing, and it’s great. Their music is characterized by plaintive, engaging lyrics; dynamic guitar playing; and an absolutely fantastic rhythm section.


The guitar was somewhat lost in the mix, particularly in more raucous moments of the set. There must be some physics involved that I don’t understand, but I do not know when or why the default mix for live sound became: max out bass, max out drums, medium amount of vocals, minimum guitar. This is obviously no fault of Palehound, but it seems to be a pandemic affecting soundmen across the country, and I just don’t get it. — Austin Hill

Noname had a very talented and tight backing band. Her vocal performance over the band was very poetic. She admitted to having a few glasses of wine before her performance. There was an overall feeling of poetry night, as her vocal performance couldn’t quite be called singing, but wasn’t quite rapping.

She was a very unique experience for those at Pygmalion. Her performance could only be wrapped up as organic. It felt as if though there was a lot of life in her music.

Kanye West was also thanked for what he did to hip-hop halfway through her performance, not for the other things he does, just his music, but you got to take the good with the bad.

The World Is A Beautiful Place 

The seven member band packed onto the stage of 51 Main shortly after the Palehound set. As with many Pygmalion bands, I was only vaguely familiar with the band prior to the performance, and did not bring in any preconceptions about the music. I had been told that, as an Emo, Post Rock, and Ambient music lover, TWIABP&IANLATD would be a no-brainer for me. With three guitars, keyboard, bass and drums, and I believe five vocal mics, I was pretty hyped for a lush, layered, harmonized landscape.

Well, I’m not really sure what to say. I don’t think I was ever able to shake the feeling that the band embodies a “What’s the maximum number of [blank] we can use to do [blank]” formula for decision making, as in words in a band name, or members in a rock band. For seven members, it didn’t SOUND like seven members. It sounded like… three to four members. I just don’t think that I really “got it.” Sorry.


SuperDuperKyle, was indeed super duper. The DJ was the first one to get on the stage and for about a while was playing bangers and hyping up the crowd. Something he managed to do very well, especially considering crowds haven’t been as interactive at this festival.

When Kyle came onto the stage everything changed as the crowd was even more excited, Kyle fed off of this energy and so did the DJ. The crowd would especially love whenever they would dance together in a very coordinated fashion.

They would banter and interact with the crowd in a comical way, even appreciating one fan named John who looked like the grown up version of a Stranger Things character.

He asked the audience if they were okay with being renamed Champaña, to which the crowd was very okay with. They divided their Champaña crowd into a left and right for a versus battle of who could sing along the loudest.

He would tease the audience asking who was a “Day 1” fan and then who was a super ancient Kyle fan, some “Pterodactyl, Tyrannosaurus rex fans”. For this super ancient song he tooked on the persona of King Wavy, which apparently was his old artist name. The crowd yelled back “wavy, wavy, wavy”.

Things were slowed down for a cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness”. He told the audience that he was one of his favorite rappers and probably the only reason he was making music. However, after the song he played a remixed version to bring back some energy into the crowd. — DS

Oddisee, was one of the last performers of Saturday. He had an amazing flow live, that you had to be there to witness. Audience members were extremely engaging and singing back to the performer.

There were a lot of samples and backing tracks from other famous hip-hop artists like Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar. However the words were his own and the audience seemed to know them and sing along. I was informed by a friend that he was also a fairly prominent producer who wrote with a lot of famous hip-hop artists.

After his last song the audience got an encore, which half way through he changed things up and went to the DJ Booth while the DJ performed live. He wrapped up his set thanking everyone for coming out to his Hip-Hop experience.

Zeshan B performed on the Main Street Stage. It took me approximately three seconds to decide that I am a Zeshan fan. Zeshan is (per his website) the Chicagoan son of Indian immigrants, raised with a deep appreciation of black literature and culture. Zeshan plays what is in many ways straight laced, throwback R&B and Soul, but bends the genre with multi-linqual vocals, and excellent use of a harmonium. His joy and talent for music was widely apparent. This was a performance I was glad to see.

His three piece band (guitar, bass, and drums), it should be mentioned, was also outstanding, keeping things tight and reined in at times, before shredding their respective instruments in tastefully placed, draw-dropping solos. — AH

Now, Now

Now, Now took the stage in Memphis on Main at 1:00 a.m. Despite a few technical difficulties and dead batteries, this was my personal favorite set of this Pygmalion. They played a substantial portion of their 2012 album , Threads (including “Wolf,” “Prehistoric,” and “Thread”), as well as their most recent tracks (namely “Yours” and “SGL”), and a few older tracks as well. Everything Now, Now does is characterized by their off-the-beaten-path approach to writing what are otherwise fully-digestible pop songs. Frontwoman Cacie Dalager’s guitar is always in some applied-tuning, and drummer Bradley Hale can virtually never be found playing a basic beat, and yet, all of these deviations from convention sound and feel natural and uncontrived.

I could have watched them play for another hour. I don’t care what music you are into, I absolutely recommend that you download Threads if you have not already — you will love it. Alternatively, you can check out their Audiotree performance which is what hooked me — featuring former member Jess Abbott (now of Polyvinyl’s Tancred) on second guitar and vocals. — AH

Photos courtesy of Veronica Mullen.

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