Smile Politely

The Pygmalion Festival 2014: Saturday in review

Yesterday’s fest made me wish I was a better dancer. The Highdive outdoor stage was dominated by dance producers and bands, but I typically can’t be seen gettin’ my boogie on until the sun goes down. Luckily there were some top-notch rock groups performing to entertain me until then. Local band Acker’s set at the Exile on Main Street outdoor stage was one of my favorites of the weekend. The new songs they’ve added show off the bands ability to work as separate but equal parts of a whole. They seemed well rehearsed as well, each member enthusiastically nailing his role in each song. It was quite hot and sunny for their 4 p.m. set, and the sweat added to the intensity of their songs, as did the freight train that was going by during about half of it. The clanking noise it produced fit in perfectly with Constantin Roman’s guitar distortion.

I then headed back to the main stage to catch Twin Peaks, a band I’ve had many chances to see, but always missed for some reason or another. I’m really glad I finally got to see them. These guys are all either 20 or 21 I think, maybe younger? That is a very young age to hit it as big as they have. They didn’t show any signs of jadedness, which was refreshing. Each band member seemed genuinely stoked to be playing. Miniature Tigers, who went on at the opposite stage immediately after, contrasted the rag-tag Twin Peaks rugged-cool with their clean-cut look and keyboard tone. None less cool but much more sophisticated.

After some of Common Loon, I went over to Mike ‘N Molly’s for Owen’s set, which was exactly like every other Owen set I’ve ever seen. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I really wish the guy would bring a full band to play with him every once in a while. Some songs (like one of my favorites he played, “Good Friends, Bad Habits”) are nice in their stripped down forms, but I wonder if I’ll ever get to hear some of the other instrumentals that make his recordings so nice live.

Tycho was finishing just as I arrived back at the Highdive, which made me sort of wish I’d come back sooner and caught more of their set (scheduling conflicts, man).
Most of the crowd stayed in place waiting for CHVRCHES as The Range’s set went on. From what I gathered, he’s a producer that pays attention to subtleties, and doesn’t try anything crazy — he provided some inoffensive background music.

I also wish I’d gotten a better spot for Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES — they sounded great from where I was, but the critic in me is skeptical of them. I guess I like to see where the sounds I’m hearing are coming from, but one thing was for certain, the crisp vocal performance by singer Lauren Mayberry was the highlight. As for the instrumentals, they left me anticipating their DJ set at inside the Highdive later that night. It seemed like the most popular afterparty in town, and was packed after DJ Belly was finished spinning and Mike Kinsella was done playing 80s hard rock and Whitney Houston. As expected, CHVRCHES know their modern dance music. I only stayed for about 40 minutes of their set but I’d imagine the club remained hoppin’ until they stopped.

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