Smile Politely

Pygmalion local artist interviews

John Isberg, Evil Tents

SPHow many Pygmalions have you been to in the past, either as a performer or fan?

John: I was supposed to play Pygmalion (I think in 2008) as International Theater of War — kind of a new wave electro version of my older band Reds — but a few things fell through and had to cancel. I was pretty disappointed about that, so I’m (we’re) really excited to be a part of this year’s festival. Unfortunately, I’ve either been broke or had to work so haven’t been able to make it to see bands at Pygmalion in the past (that I can remember).

SPYou’re playing an instore at Exile on Saturday afternoon. Is there anyone else on that show or at the festival that you’re excited to see?

John: I’m curious as to who the secret Polyvinyl artist is for the Exile show, that should be interesting. Toro Y Moi is really amazing so that will be cool to see. Grave Babies, Joan of Arc, and gotta check out the Broach for Braid. Broach.

SP: What does having a festival like Pygmalion do for the local scene?

John I like that it’s a mix of local and national acts. It’s really cool to be able to play on the same bill with many of these bands. Sometimes it can get you down when you play to an empty room, so having something like this to be a part of is really great. Then again, sometimes playing to an empty room is pretty liberating. You do what you can, I suppose.

SP: What is your favorite memory from a past Pygmalion?

John: I think for me, just watching it grow over the years and seeing the artists that come to play is really cool. I suppose since I have yet to make memories, being able to play this year’s fest is the current favorite. Of course, we haven’t played yet so it’s more of a future memory. If that’s possible. It’s like that movie with Christopher Reeve, Somewhere in Time. Gotta check those pockets yo.


Jordan Trammell, Deathtram

Smile PolitelyYou’re playing a nine band mega-show at Mike ‘N Molly’s. Who else on your show or at the festival are you excited to see?

Jordan: I’m excited to see Bass Drum of Death and Deerhoof. I think there is a lot of local talent to be seen at this year’s festival, Take Care and Midstress to name a few.

SPHow many Pygmalions have you been to, either as a performer or fan?

Jordan: I performed last year at Indi-Go in the early stages of Deathtram before the band got together. It was more of a stripped down set. I caught Autolux and Wavves in 2009.

SPWhat is your favorite memory from a past year?

Jordan: Autolux was sweet even though the crowd was wretched.


Nick Bethune, Horrible Things

1. I have been to the past three Pygmalions, and I have not performed at any until this year. I haven’t gotten the pass, but there were several shows that I made a point of seeing.

2. At that show I’m excited to see Bear Hands, but for the rest of the festival there’s a few more bands that I’m pretty excited to see. I always like seeing Joan of Arc; Explosions in the Sky are going to be good too. The Grave Babies and Grown Ups (hopefully) show is going to be great too [ed. — Grown Ups have dropped and been replaced by Panel Van], plus seeing all of my homies playing their respective shows around town is going to be great also. It’s like Christmas.

3. A festival like Pygmalion I think is great for the local scene. It helps the bands get exposure to an audience that isn’t always around, and the festival is pretty friendly to local acts. I think that it also adds a little more reputability to what is currently going on in town musically. There have always been good bands coming from Chambana (Braid, American Football, some band that likes sports cars), but it’s always nice to remind people of that.

4. Other than the total vibe, and the bands playing, I like the little booths that are set up outside of Canopy during their shows. I love to see people get haircuts, and when Wavves were playing with Maps & Atlases I got my palm read. The Palm-reader said that I would find happiness, and meet the love of my life, some shit about looking at the stars. Naturally I didn’t really listen to her, but I hope that dollar bought her something good. Fang Island were pretty good too.


Kyle Lang, Easter

SPThis is Easter’s first year playing Pygmalion — have you ever attended the festival before?

Kyle: I went to one or two shows at the Canopy Club in 2009 just to check things out, but that’s really it. I went to Cap’n Jazz last year too since it was free — I think that was a part of Pygmalion…

SP: You’re playing at the Canopy with some pretty big bands, including Toro y Moi. Is it strange doing something so big after only releasing your demo a few months ago?

Kyle: It’s not strange to me. I guess I’ve never felt like it’s too much of a big a deal, but I suppose that might be because I don’t really know much about the bands I’m playing with (as terrible as that may sound).

SPWhat does having something like Pygmalion do for the local scene on the whole?

Kyle: I think that it gives everyone in the local “indie” scene something to get excited about, which is nice. It may even inspire people to attend other local shows or start their own bands as well, which is also a positive thing.

SP: What other bands are you excited to see at the festival?

Kyle: I’m very excited for Deerhoof, very, very excited. Xiu Xiu will be cool too. I’m lucky that they’re playing the same show. Really the whole Polyvinyl show should be fun.


Luke Bergkoetter, Take Care / Mike ‘N Molly’s booker

SPYou’re one of the few people to have played every Pygmalion. What are some of your favorite memories from the festival, either as a performer or fan?

Luke: I asked my longtime collaborator and bandmate Kyle about old Pygmalion performances and came up with the same sweaty thoughts lacking in continuity. Those fireflies shows were on the fringe usually at Mike ‘N Molly’s, well attended, and wildly drunk. With time comes a little bit more focus I suppose. As exciting and vague as those years have become — I can’t for the life of me remember the Mit’n show — I loved last year’s Pygmalion. Take Care played to a packed Void Room at the Canopy Club, with Caribou setting up in the main room and the wildly euphoric Cap’n Jazz playing across the street. I put my gear down and ran next door in the refreshing rain. That show was all energy and fucking guts! 

As shows go, Low at Krannert in 2006 and then again at the Channing-Murray (the same room I got married in) last year, were my personal highlights. They are a wonderful band, “(That’s How You Sing) Amazing Grace” killed me, I held my wife’s hand at that show in the same place that we were married, listening to that song…tears and almost emotional panic, It was a beautiful show.

SP: How does organizing a Pygmalion show work from your perspective as a venue booker?

Luke: This thing is all Seth Fein. We’re friends and I’m doing my part to represent MnM’s and the bands playing the showcase on Saturday. I didn’t book this show but I am okay with treating it like I did.

SP: What does have a festival like Pygmalion do for the local scene?

Luke: Our city blows up with music and like minded individuals. people we know and strangers push themselves, tons of energy. It’s the fall, in our town, it gets dominated by college football fever and bland academia. We want these shows to happen and to have a good time, but they also balance our village out.

SP: Who are you excited to see this year?

Luke: My buddy Danny is back in town so I’m excited to check out his band Grave Babies on Friday with Midstress at The Red Herring. Then, holy shit it’s the 15th anniversary Polyvinyl Showcase at the Highdive on Saturday. I’ve thought about it a lot and i feel that I may be a little too old for a favorite band, but I’ve been a fan of Joan of Arc for well over a decade now and my love for them has not diminished. Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof and our collective heroes Braid (fuck Pitchfork) will be nothing short of amazing. I will be be moving, biding my time between there and Mike ‘N Molly’s all day.

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