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Friday, September 22

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Interview Tue Aug 30 2011

Pygmalion Music Festival Is On Its Way

Labor Day weekend may be upon us as the unofficial end of summer, but that doesn't mean that outdoor festivals are finished for 2011. The AV Club's Fest is coming up soon and the Hideout Block Party is a month away, but if you're up for a weekend out of the city, Champaign might not be a bad spot from September 21 through 25. The Pygmalion Music Festival returns for its 7th year with arguably its best lineup yet featuring Explosions in the Sky, Cut Copy, Braid, Gang Gang Dance, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the Dodos, Japandroids and a bunch of other acts, including a gaggle of great locals. Polyvinyl Records' 15th Anniversary highlights this year's festival on Saturday, the 24th. Ahead of this year's festival, Transmission chatted with founder and organizer Seth Fein. Even though full festival passes recently sold out, single show tickets are still on sale. Visit for details on the whole weekend.

Transmission: What was the initial inspiration for Pygmalion when it began in 2005?
Seth Fein: Basically, I just knew that Champaign-Urbana could support a festival like this one. I had been to AthFest in Athens, GA and had heard of Bloomingtonfest in Bloomington, IN, so basically, I had the model that I wanted to work with. I wanted to give it a name that has significance to me and the community and I landed with Pygmalion: in honor of Slowdive's last record from 1995, and to pay homage to Richard Powers' novel, Galatea 2.2 -- a true modern day Pygmalion story.

T: What are expectations for Pygmalion now in its 7th year? Do the expectations increase each year based on the prior year's success?
SF: I think just above all, that it feels more professionally handled and that the level of artistry is improved. I spent a lot of time working with my existing sponsors and a handful of trusted agents to bring together this year's lineup. I think it was a success. Expectations for me are simply to just be able to present a solid night of artists every night of the festival. That's definitely been the case the past three years in my estimation.

T: How did the Polyvinyl 15th Anniversary show come together? And has it been the intention that, as the festival grew, there'd eventually be an outdoor event?
SF: I work closely with the label, and seeing as how [label manager] Seth [Hubbard] is a best buddy of mine, it was a natural extension of what we'd done in the past. In 2006, we did the 10-year, and I reckon that 2016 will be the 20-year. That one will likely tear the town down. As for there being an outdoor show, not necessarily. It's something I'd thought about for a while, and even once stated that that would never happen, but I have a tendency to change my mind, and fast.

T: Each year features a lot of Champaign-area bands that are new to many out-of-towners. How critical is it to balance the national headliners with the locals?
SF: Very. That's part of the intention of the festival. I want to be able to expose both locals and out-of-towners to our great music scene here, and one of the ways I can do that is to have a bunch of them performing at the festival. It's a great pleasure of mine.

T: What's the most satisfying thing about organizing Pygmalion? What do you do on September 26?
SF: I think just participating in the local culture here in Champaign-Urbana. I grew up here, and I actually stayed because I could see all that the town had to offer, and all the ways in which the town could grow. I hope that I am making an impact in that arena. September 26 -- hopefully my wife (festival photographer Justine Bursoni) will accompany me to a round of golf, and a nice dinner somewhere. Then, I will sleep and start planning for 2012.

T: There're a handful of animal-based acts on this year's lineup: The Dodos, Deerhoof, Bear Hands, Hedgehog, Iron Tigers, Mammoths, DJ White Rabbit, Why I Like Robins, Year of the Bobcat. Anything to read into that other than it's a common theme in band names?
SF: I think bands are just bands in that way. Bummed there was no "wolf" band, though. Wolves rule.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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