Smile Politely

Pygmalion day by day: Friday

Pygmalion kicked off yesterday with massive sets from both of Montreal and Built to Spill (we also hear that some woman named Janelle Monae was pretty good). The festival continues tonight with sets from Surfer Blood, Plastician and Those Darlins, and give this article a read through to figure out what’s up for tomorrow night.

Toughest Choice: Holy Fuck vs. Owen

Both bands are outstanding in a live setting, but for different reasons. Do you go for Holy Fuck’s high energy freeform synth jams, or one of Owen’s infamous solo sets, in which he’s liable to play any and everything from his massive catalog. While they’re about as opposite as you can get musicially, each set should offer a compelling performance.

Easiest Choice: Cut Chemist

Aside from being a hip-hop classic, Jurassic 5’s major label debut, 2000’s Quality Control, is a great introductory album for people who aren’t necessarily into hip-hop. While Chali2na’s ridiculously smooth flow is what grabs your attention immediately, Cut Chemist’s absurdly funky beats are what keep you coming back for repeated listens — just check out album highlight “Lausd” or their 2002 single “What’s Golden”. In the time since J5 broke up, Cut Chemist has toured relentlessly and released two albums with turntablism god DJ Shadow. As Belly said yesterday, the guy is an OG. This one is not to be missed.

Local Spotlight


Elsinore’s Pygmalion appearance comes between tours for them; they just wrapped an east coast swing supporting Yes Yes Yes, and will be heading back out again in a few weeks on a southern swing.

You just finished an extensive East Coast tour; your first post Yes Yes Yes. How was it? What’s next?

The tour was by leaps and bounds the best tour experience we’ve had in the three years since leaping from the CU nest. Having this album out has given us not only increased confidence and a sizable morale boost, but also this stamp of credibility at shows. When people see that you have a full-length AND that you’re on a label they get more excited to buy and talk to you. This tour felt like the switch had finally been flipped and we got a consistently strong response. More people, more album sales, more t-shirt purchases, more returning fans, more everything. We finally stayed in a decent motel room and didn’t have to worry about whether or not that meant we would still have enough gas money the next day when we left for the next city. Now, we have this Pygmalion show and four weeks to recharge and teach lessons and hopefully get some new songs ready to test on the next leg of the tour, which will take us through the South, out to the West Coast, and back from mid-October to mid-November.

You’re headlining the Art Theater for Pygmalion. People seem to think it’s a good setting for you guys. Why do you think that is?

The Art Theater is one of my favorite places to be in Champaign-Urbana. And we were actually considering having the record release show there because of how perfect I think it is for concerts. But the capacity is just over 200, so The Canopy ultimately won out. The Art Theater is an ideal and untapped venue. It’s all-ages, but still serves beer & wine, which means that nobody will have a reason NOT to go to shows there. And now that it’s under new ownership, and since that owner is someone who has the right ideals in mind for an arthouse theater like this, the Pygmalion show is the perfect chance to introduce the “new” Art Theater to Champaign-Urbana. Sanford, the owner, has done a fantastic job so far of bringing in a combination of classic films, second-run movies, film festivals, and now has tapped into the music scene by having The Duke of Uke and this show in his space. I think he’s really doing it right. And it feels good to be a part of this rebirth, and to have a bridge built between us, the theater, and Pygmalion epitomizes what a music/art community should be, I think. Plus, we’ll be debuting two brand new music videos made by local artists Brittany Pyle & Zimos Ferguson in a setting that is meant for showing them. It should be the perfect night.

What band are you most looking forward to seeing this week?

Well, today is my wife’s birthday and we’re HUGE of Montreal fans. So, we’ve got our tickets and will celebrate her twenty-ninth the right way! But, I’m also excited for Psychic Twin, Surfer Blood and Caribou.


Hot Cops

Hot Cops haven’t been the most active group lately, but rest assured that they’re still around, and their live show is as awesome as ever.

What have Hot Cops been up to lately? Can we expect to hear any new music soon?

We’ve been a bit preoccupied with personal matters lately, so there have been some minor snags in our plans for the year.  We have a ton written that we’re still sorting through for the album, we have some solid art in the works, but we haven’t had a prime opportunity to organize and solidify our efforts.  I’d like to say we’ll be recording our first album early next year, but I’ll wait until we have the studio time scheduled in our google calendars before committing anything to people.  There will definitely be new music live in the coming months and we will be happy with the outcome of our patience.

How difficult is it to have a band that is located in both Champaign and Chicago?

I’d like to say it’s a pain, but I think more of it comes from having 4 guys working 9-5s than the distance.  We’ve been having a world of trouble breaking into Chicago because we can’t play a weeknight, but I don’t know if playing to an empty Mutiny on a Tuesday night is a path to a band’s success.  I don’t think we’re at a point in our lives where we’d chose the musician’s life over the stable job, so we’re sticking with a setup that feels like home. We’re family, so practicality doesn’t play into it.

What other artists are you looking forward to seeing this weekend?

Light Pollution (shameless plug), Those Darlins, Psychic Twin, Surfer Blood, and all our local buddies on Saturday Night.


The full Pygmalion schedule is available here. Look for a Saturday breakdown on the site tomorrow.

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