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Total Recall: Pygmalion’s highs and lows

September 20, 2009

Pygmalion Music FestivalWith the fifth Pygmalion Music Festival in the rear view mirror it seems like a good time to look back at what events occurred to make the long weekend so memorable.


The weekend was certainly full of surprises, good, bad and ugly. The biggest surprise for me was the sudden split of Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s prior to their performance at the Canopy Club on Thursday night.

When only two members of the band took stage, despite having drums, amps and other equipment on stage, it is safe to say that every person in attendance was at least a little surprised, and probably a little disappointed as well. Margot’s inner band tensions could have hampered the festival, but fortunately for the fans, there were plenty of positive surprises to be had.

The most surprising act to, at least, in a good way, was Denison Witmer. Prior to the festival I really had no exposure to his work, but after his beautiful, charismatic set I don’t think I could forget him. My Brightest Diamond played right after Witmer, and though I was expecting something special, Shara Worden really went above and beyond my expectations.

One other band that surprised me and that I thoroughly enjoyed during the weekend-long festival were local group You & Yourn. Though their set was a bit side-tracked by illness, they still performed some very pretty, simple folk songs.

I’ll certainly be doing some more research in to each of these groups; whether it’s to find out if they have reunited, or simply to listen to them more.

Best Performances

Narrowing all of the bands I was able to see this weekend down to the best few is certainly a daunting task, but there are a few that stick out immediately in mind as simply magnificent.

The best band of the festival, in my opinion, was Cincinatti’s own Pomegranates. Their set was nearly flawless, technically speaking, and they had so much fun while on stage that it was contagious. Watching them just made everyone feel so wonderful about being at the Canopy Club that night. They were truly special to behold.

Coming in at a close second to Pomegranates is My Brightest Diamond. Worden’s music is so complex and gorgeous and her voice is simply amazing. I believe that just about everyone in attendance was awed and jealous of her operatic crooning. She sank a hook into my heart with her brilliant performance.

Iron and Wine, festival headliner, did not disappoint me on Saturday night, and provided an appropriate close to a weekend of good music. His presence, by himself, on stage was striking. He lived up to the hype that surrounded his performance, and I appreciate that greatly.

One band that were better than I thought they would be was The Antlers, and for doing so they definitely qualify as one of the best bands of the weekend. Their live set had an electric energy that isn’t present on their album. It made their songs come alive and drew me in as a listener.

Ra Ra Riot round of my favorite performances of the festival. Their set was superb, it sounded just like their recordings, and yet they were vibrant on stage. Their performance was spectacular, and their string musicians weren’t too bad to look at either.

Missed Opportunity

Though I was able to see dozens of bands this weekend there were a few that I simply couldn’t make it out to see. The one band that sticks out in my mind as one that I truly missed out on is Low. My friend in Good Night & Good Morning was able to play with them and gave a glowing review of their performance. I missed their set because I was seeing BLK JKS, Pomegranates and The Antlers, which justifies the decision in my mind, however, I still would like to catch them at some point.

Another band that I missed during the festival was YACHT. On Saturday night they played the Canopy Club, unfortunately it was at the same time Ra Ra Riot rocked Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Though I loved what I saw from Ra Ra Riot, I still would like to see YACHT perform sometime.

The Final Word

Now that all is said and done, there are really no regrets that I have about this festival. There are bands that I missed, but there are incredible bands that I was able to witness first hand and even hear for the first time. Obviously I had a wonderful time, and I would recommend that anyone who enjoys music make it out to the sixth Pygmalion Music Festival in 2010. I know that I make every attempt to be there.

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