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The Pygmalion Festival 2018 Review

Established in 2005, Pygmalion is the baby of Co-Producers Seth Fein and Patrick Singer. The larger than life lineup performs at various venues tucked away Champaign-Urbana, Illinois such as The Canopy Club, the Independent Media Center, and a public street stage. Besides attending concerts and mingling with artists, festival-goers can also buy artisan goods, handcrafted items, and food from local vendors.

Pygmalion is, and always will be, a staple to WLUW's festival season for it's relaxed setting and casual crowd. Check out the recap and review of this years fest below!

Thursday–Sept 27th

Whitney (Duo)

It wasn’t too long since we last caught Whitney performing, (heck, you can check it out here if you’re interested), however this performance was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Max and Julien left the rest of the band in Chicago, and came down to work through some new songs in front of a live crowd. With Julien playing an acoustic guitar, instead of being behind a drum kit, and Max questioning why there was a microphone set up in front of him, the intimacy of the performance carried from the stage to the back of the auditorium.

From what seemed to be a jam/practice session between the two, Max and Julien performed a mix of songs from their debut record, “Light Upon the Lake”, and a few new tracks from the forthcoming sophomore record. Prior to playing some of the new tracks, Julien apologized to the crowd as they wanted to play the new songs, however they weren’t finished yet, both lyrically and musically.

One of the three new songs performed has a tentative title: “Day and Night”. A graceful song about love in the city, Julien introduced the track, and double checked with Max that he has his capo on the right fret. The two other new tracks the duo worked their way through (even having to stop a song, and pick it up due to a little mess up) were tentatively titled “My Love” and “Dancing Slow”. Toward the last of their set, Max reminisced over his first time playing Pygmalion, where he opened for Unknown Mortal Orchestra and drank underage at the disposal of generous bartenders–which got a good laugh from the crowd. The duo closed the intimate set with “No Woman,” as everyone in the theatre hummed and lightly sung along.

-Kaylie Plauche & Paul Quinn

Diet Cig

I’ve seen Diet Cig far and wide, but watching them through a packed crowd in Canopy Club’s front room was definitely a treat. Rocking a large black knee brace, singer and frontwoman Alex Luciano still gave the crowd her all. The indie-rock duo played fan favorites “Barf Day,” “Sixteen,” and  “Harvard.” Alex also made a point for the crowd to register to vote in for their local elections coming up at their merch booth where they gave aways free stickers and collegiate banners to those who did register. At the end of the show, the band beckoned the sound engineers to play “Cha Cha Slide” as they exited the stage while the entire crowd joined into dance.

-Kaylie Plauche
 

 

 

 

 

Friday–Sept 28th

JPEGMafia

This was my third time seeing JPEGmafia play, and all I can say is that man KNOWS how to put in a show. The first time I saw him play, it was to a crowd of hundreds at Concord Music Hall. This time, it was to a crowd of roughly 100 (and that’s being very generous). Either way, his set had so much energy. JPEG ran into the crowd several times, and elicited a mosh pit of about four people. Seeing him keep the energy up in such a small venue was truly inspiring.

-Carolyn Droke

Kweku Collins

The Evanston native, signed to Chicago record label Closed Sessions, casually strolled around the venue to greet fans, friends, and family. The coolest thing about Kweku, beside that he tends to dress like “Arthur,” is his friendly demeanor and humility. He played a majority of his set from his debut album “Nat Love” (“Stupid Roses”) and more recent releases such as “Jump.I” from the EP “Grey.” In the middle of his set, he made a point to talk about his own personal conception of race (being biracial himself), sexual assault, and consent within daily life as well as in the music industry. After his set, Kweku stuck around to sign fans merchandise and take pictures before heading back to Chicago.

-Kaylie Plauche

Cuco

Cuco was definitely the most packed show of the night, to my surprise. Fans were screaming for at least 20 minutes before the 20-year-old graced the stage. He shouted out the latinx crowd several times in the set, which seemed to get a huge response. Cuco had a fairly large band with him, about five other members that he shared the stage with. Although Cuco himself didn’t play an instruments, he did whip out his trumpet for a few solos. Towards the end, he played his most popular songs “My Lover is a Day,” and “Amor de Siempre,” and “Lo Que Siento.” He even got the crowd to start a circle pit, which was impressive considering he’s a bedroom pop artist. We ended up seeing him after the show, and he was completely swarmed by fans.

-Carolyn Droke

Mount Kimbie

Unfortunately, nearly everyone left the venue after Cuco, which means they missed Mount Kimbie. And let me tell you, they MISSED OUT. There were roughly only 50 or so people in the room when Mount Kimbie’s set ended, but it was absolutely incredible. This was my first time seeing Mount Kimbie live, and my eardrums have not been the same since. Their light show was entrancing, including the visuals they projected on screen behind them. They played their hits like “Blue Train Lines,” and “Marilyn”. Although King Krule didn’t come out on stage, it was still as beautiful as I could have possibly imagined.

-Carolyn Droke

 

Saturday Sept 29th

Playboi Carti

Despite being late by 20 minutes, Playboi Carti still put on a hell of a show with limited time. The rapstar came out on the stage and the crowd instantly erupted like a volcano. Security had to push back people spilling over the barricade and escort rowdy individuals out. Carti’s hypeman egging the crowd on to open up a mosh pit didn’t help the situation. Carti performed many of hits such as “New Choppa,” “Do That Shit,” “Wokeuplikethis*,” “Lean 4 Real,” and “Poke It Out.” Throughout his set, he got down to it, stripping off layers of clothing and dripping in sweat. Fans swarmed to one side of the venue when he threw his t-shirt into the crowd. The rapper also gave an emotionally intense go at the song “Home (KOD)” that took fans such myself by surprise. For his last song he popped off to “Magnolia” and displayed his body with with crucificatory form onstage to the song “Fucked Up” by Xxxtentacion & Ski Mask The Slump God.

-Kaylie Plauche

Post Animal 

Post Animal hosted, what seemed to be, the second Polyvinyl party at Pygmalion (and also the final Polyvinyl artist to perform). Taking the stage at 1am, yes, 1am, the band had to compete with festival attendees with Playboi Carti performing at the same time across town. However, fighting the struggle of having such a late show and competing with Playboi Carti, Champaign-Urbana showed up. Having gained some attraction as “the band who had Steve from Stranger Things in it”, a packed room and a rowdy crowd made the evening one of the festival’s highlights. Performing the majority of the songs from their debut album “When I Think of You In A Castle”, Post Animal performed one of the loudest sets at the festival (with help coming from three different guitarists). Chicago - if you haven’t seen Post Animal yet, not the type of band you wanna miss out on as they konw how to put on one heck of a show.

-Paul Quinn

Frankie Cosmos

Frankie Cosmos was in her element at Pygmalion Festival. She played to a standing room of about 75. Her shrill voice echoed throughout the room. Frankie Cosmos seemed to be on autopilot during this show. She didn’t spend much time talking to the crowd or announcing songs. She played all her hits. I don’t normally listen to Frankie Cosmos, but I will say one song I can tolerate is “Young.” I was prepared to get up and start moving when the beat hit, but instead of hearing the familiar opening line, I heard the strum of a guitar. Frankie Cosmos decided to make this an acoustic rendition, much to my disappointment. The crowd filed out after her short set ended.

-Carolyn

Having never played Champaign-Urbana before, Frankie Cosmos filled the venue with fans who have been waiting for this moment for some time now. Coming on the stage in shy and reserved manor, Greta Cline and her band led the swoon/dance party at an early show at the festival. Performing songs dating back to her first record (2014), Frankie Cosmos performed an expansive set, featuring fan-favorites such as “If I Had a Dog”, “Young”, and “Jesse”. A highlight of the performance was them playing “Being Alive” and watching the crowd dance hard to the upbeat moment of the song, then watching the transition to a heartfelt sing-a-long of the chorus when the tempo slows down. Giving the audience a good taste of the Frankie Cosmos catalog, Greta talked to and thanked fans as they were being ushered out after the show.

-Paul Quinn

V.V. Lightbody

With a tightly knit crowd of about 30 people, I never thought I would be able to witness such an intimate set with V.V. V.V's smooth guitar playing toppled with her vibrant voice created such a great aura for an awesome night. With every song, the crowd couldn't help but gravitate closer, dedicating their silence to V.V and her band's full sound. Playing songs like “Fish in Fives” and “Fig Leaves”, Vivian kept her crowd in a constant sway. Combatting the windy, cold air from outside, V.V's songs forged a warmth that tastes like a hot chocolate and felt like one big hug. Truly a magical experience.

-Austin Edington

 

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Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie's Dave Depper chats with WLUW about new album Thank You for Today

Death Cab for Cutie is a band that’s really close to my heart. I don’t remember how I first came across their music, but it was 2007 and “Your Heart Is an Empty Room” off Plans was the anthem of my preteen years. I didn’t know what the term “angst” meant, but staring longingly out the backseat window of my parent’s Volvo listening to “Bixby Canyon Bridge” on my orange iPod Nano was a regular occurrence. I grew up in Seattle, near the birthplace of Death Cab and they regularly played shows around the city. They were my first concert, and I’ve talked about this particular show countless times over the years.

Death Cab for Cutie is still a band that Seattle cherishes, especially with the decline of the music scene. When people think about Seattle, most of the time they picture flannel sweaters and Kurt Cobain. Although there is definitely still an excess of flannel sweaters, the tech boom (thanks Amazon) has made the city nearly unrecognizable in the past five years. Rent prices have surpassed those of San Fransicso and Seattle’s music identity has waned. Iconic bars and restaurants continuously get torn down and converted into luxury condos. The city seems to be in a constant flux of demolition and construction.

Many have had trouble coping with this identity loss, which is why there was huge backlash in June when it was announced that historic music venue The Showbox would be closed and converted into an apartment building. Thankfully, many musicians and concerned citizens united to protect The Showbox. Death Cab for Cutie’s front man Ben Gibbard was the face of this movement. Gibbard reached out to over 170 musicians including as Pearl Jam, Conor Oberst, Dave Matthews, and Dinosaur Jr to sign a petition to stop demolition. In August, Gibbard went in front of City Council and was able to get The Showbox listed as a historical site in a unanimous decision, effectively saving the Showbox.

I was able to catch up with Death Cab for Cutie’s guitarist, Dave Depper, on the phone to talk about all these changes Seattle has seen recently, as well as their new album Thank You for Today. 

 

Carolyn D: Hey Dave, how’s it going? I understand you have really busy schedule, so I appreciate you taking the time to chat!

Dave D: Good! I appreciate you taking an interest in the band.

Carolyn D: Definitely! Actually, I grew up in Seattle and Death Cab for Cutie was my first concert I ever went to. I still have the t-shirt.

DD: Oh, That’s amazing, where was that at?

CD: Marymoor Park in 2007.

DD: Oh man, old school. That was the Plans tour, right?

CD: It was! So, Thank You For Today came out just over a month ago. How has the response been so far? 

DD: We’ve all felt pretty great about it. Reviews have been really nice, and fans seem really engaged with it. We felt like we made a good one, and we’re happy to see that most people agree. It felt good making it, and we were all confident that we had done right by the band at the end. The new songs have been going really well live so far.

CD: This is your first album that you helped write and record with DCFC. Talk about the process of writing this album. Has it been different than other bands that you’ve been with in the past?

DD: It’s been similar in some ways and different in some ways. I mean, this band clearly, song-writing wise, is very driven by Ben Gibbard’s songwriting vision. And I’ve definitely been in bands with that type of arrangement before. He for the most part writes the songs and sends them around to us. We would listen to it and give him feedback. We’d vote on them or give him feedback and say if we’d love one or if one wasn’t working as much. I will say that I’ve never been part of a band where the main songwriter is so prolific. Ben wrote so many songs for this record. He was really focused on picking out the best ones. His work ethic is amazing. There was a very exciting period where we’d all get an email from Ben every day with a new song attached. Sometimes twice a day, but certainly once a week, for months. As someone who’s loved DCFC for a long time, that’s fucking cool. It was pretty special. I contributed a little songwriting to the song Gold Rush, which some chordal and melodic changes to the bridge, but Ben pretty much wrote that song on his own other than that.

CD: Cool! I was actually going to ask you about that song Gold Rush, in particular. Just being from Seattle I definitely relate a lot. I live in Chicago for school and I visit Seattle probably once every six to eight months and I definitely resonate to the part of the song where Ben talks about feeling like a stranger, just because it’s so different every time I go home. It’s shocking to see that just in the short amount of time, six to eight months, so much as changed already. I know that you didn’t grow up in Seattle, but you have lived in Portland. Have you experienced similar changes?

DD: I didn’t grow up in Seattle, but I lived in Portland for 15 years, and it’s a song that resonates deeply with me as well. While I live there, I’m often gone for a really long time. Even now, I’m going to be gone for the next six months at least and I feel like every time I come home, it looks totally different. This spot that I had a memorable first date, or break-up, has been torn down and replaced by condos. My favorite bar from when I was 25, where I had a job interview that changed my life. Just things like that. They’re all gone. That’s really what the song is about. What do you do once those places are gone? Does that memory mean the same thing to you? Can it still live on despite the fact that it’s physical presence has been excised?

CD: Yeah definitely, and I feel like having all these places where you hold memory to, once it’s gone, the memory almost changes. Especially since you don’t have that constant reminder when you walk by, “Oh, this is where that girl broke-up with me,” you know?

DD: *laughs* yes. Luckily most women break up with me in public spaces.

CD: Well, at least it’s not over text, right?

DD: Is it though???

CD: True. Not as public. So, speaking of things being torn down and turned into condos, I know that Ben really spearheaded the Save the Showbox campaign, but did you have any part in that and can you talk about watching that whole process happen?

DD: Yeah, I have less of a dog in the fight, being less of a Seattleite. But I have played the Showbox many times and have been to many memorable shows at the Showbox. It’s been pretty inspiring to see Ben care so much and to take some real action with Seattle City Council. So I can’t take any credit for that movement or getting it going, but I’m very proud to be getting his back on that one. It’s just so sad what is happening to Seattle at this completely unsustainable rate. The Showbox just hurts so bad compared to so much of what’s going on. Portland has those spots too and I’m equally sad about them.

CD: Maybe you can spearhead some saving of places in Portland.

DD: I would like to, there’s certainly no shortage of them right now.

CD: You mentioned earlier that you were a DCFC fan before joining the band. Do you have favorite albums or songs in particular by them?

DD: My favorite album, I announced it online and there was kind of a controversial response. But my favorite is Narrow Stairs. I don’t know because it’s tied to a particular time in my life where that album had a lot of meaning to me. I really adore that record. I really love playing songs from it. In terms of actual songs, Transatlanticism feels like a dream every time we play it. At this point, I’ve been in the band for four years. I’m used to it. I’m used to this way of life. But every single time we play that song, it’s just magic for me. I cannot believe that I’m playing that guitar riff and I cannot believe that I get to just go into this trance-like state for eight or nine minutes and see people crying in front row listening to it as well. That’s my favorite for sure.

CD: That’s awesome. So I know you’ve only been in the band for four years, but do you think that your listenership demographic has changed throughout the years? Do you notice different kinds of people are coming to your shows or do you think that it’s a solid fan base that’s been there since the beginning?

DD: When I joined the band, I really had no idea what the demographic was going to be like at the shows. Is it going to be aging indie rockers like me? Am I just going to be looking back at a crowd full of 35-45 year olds? The answer was no. Those people are there but there are still teenagers and people in their early 20’s and older people too. This band is in this really amazing spot of continuing to have radio success without turning completely into a legacy act yet. We’re all very self aware and know that there is some aspect of a legacy band label creeping in, but can still play new songs from our new albums and have people greet them warmly. We’ll still hear ourselves on the radio and there’s still these fans being picked up whose relationship with DCFC started with “Kintsugi” and that’s an amazing spot for a band 20 years in to be.

CD: That’s good to hear. I know that you’ve been in music for a long time. What advice would you give to young people who are just starting out in music?

DD: We were all talking about this the other night actually. Something that I wish that I had known when I was going to school and doing music is I just didn’t know what working in music meant. I only had a vague idea. I didn’t have any idea of the variety of jobs in the music industry. I thought that just once a band had gotten to a certain size, it had a roadie or two, or maybe lots of roadies. You just played in a band until you got there. I didn’t know the various levels of working at a record label or a PR firm. So I wish I had been more educated about the sort of music industry ecosystem and understood how all those jobs interacted with each other, and done some of them in addition to being a musician. I feel like I know a lot of people who really want to get into music and don’t really know where to start. I would say just find out about these jobs. Try them. See if you could be an intern or a volunteer. Just be a merch grunt, and learn at the feet of people that are doing this kind of thing. Something will probably resonate with you, and it might not be the kind of job you knew existed. In terms of being in an actual band, I’ve always said that no matter how good you are, there’s always going to be someone better than you. Be the person that other people want to ride in a van with for ten hours a day. Be good at what you do, but also just work at being a good human being. If it’s between you and somebody else with a good skillset, and they’re just a cooler hang, they’re going to get a gig. So be the person you want to hang out with.

CD: That’s great advice, thank you so much Dave!

DD: Definitely, hope to see you in Chicago!

Thank You for Today is out now on all platforms. Check out Death Cab for Cutie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Eleanor Friedberger Takes a Victory Lap at the Bottle

“It’s been a bad couple of days. This song will help, I hope.”

That’s how Eleanor Friedberger introduced a muscled-up version of the track “Make Me a Song” halfway through her set on Friday night at the Empty Bottle. The same sentiment can be said of every song she played; whether a new track from her most recent album Rebound (out now on Frenchkiss) or something pulled off the bench from her excellent discography (both solo and with her former band The Fiery Furnaces), Eleanor Friedberger fashioned a fantastic set of music that was a balm for these troubling times.

WLUW DJ Phil Cerza was able to chat with Eleanor briefly before the music got underway on Friday. The two discussed the importance of Chicago & the Bottle to her as a touring stop, transitioning the synth-pop sound of Rebound to the stage, and what’s next for her & her band.

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You grew up in Oak Park. Does playing a show like tonight in Chicago after touring behind a record all Summer feel like a sort of a homecoming? 

Yeah, we literally just came from my childhood home and had dinner with my parents. (Laughs) I guess in that way, yes. My parents will be here tonight. I actually got a few messages from high school friends like, “We’re all out of town!” You know, I’ve played here so many times…it feels very familiar but there’s not like this “Oh, I’m with my people” feeling like that…

Does the Bottle have a lot of significance to you as a venue? 

Sure, I feel like I’ve played here more times than any other – definitely more than any place in Chicago, and maybe as many times as any place in New York. I played at the Hideout in November, I played at Lincoln Hall in May when the record came out, so this’ll be my third time in Chicago less than a year.

On Rebound you’re using more electronic & pop soundscapes than you have on your   other solo records; drum machines, programmed beats, Casio keyboards. How has   that sound translated to the live show? Has it been a challenge? 

Not at all! (Laughs)   We’re playing guitar, bass and drums. For me, that just is the most versatile way to play.   Eventhough I made this album, it’s just funny, I don’t feel like we’re missing any sound, you   know? I’m not missing that stuff.

 Have you revised any Fiery Furnaces songs for this tour? It seems a song like “Benton   Harbor Blues” might lend itself well to this setting. 

(Laughs) Yeah, no, it’s always tricky.   This is my fourth solo album. I have too many songs to choose from just from my own stuff.   Imagine, incorporating Fiery Furnaces stuff would be so difficult. But actually, a few weeks   ago it was the anniversary of our first album coming out, so we played a song called “Tropical   Ice-Land” that night. I played a bit of “My Egyptian Grammar” last night because someone   asked me to. We’ve played “Blueberry Boat” a few times, you know, just for fun.

Rebound is one of our favorite records of the year at WLUW. We played it all Summer and we’re still getting lots of play out of it into the Fall. What have you been listening to on the road? Any new releases you wanna hype? 

The new – well, it hasn’t come out yet…My friend Chris Cohen, he just finished his album. It’s coming out in April, but he sent it to me. I was like “I need something to listen to on the long drive!” So I was listening to that a bunch. And we were just listening to the brand new Deerhoof song tonight on our way over here.

What inspired you to create the handwritten lyric sheets you’re selling at your merch table? They’re so cool & really beautiful. 

Thank you. For one, it’s such a good way to occupy my time. Like, sitting in the van I’ve just been doodling and coloring and stuff. You always collect these free newspapers in little towns & motels, so I was collecting these papers and clipping them. I also had this big bill I had to pay for my van that we ended up leaving in California because it broke down, so I was trying to think of ways to make a little extra money at the merch table.

After this weekend you’re headed to the UK & Europe for a couple dates. The songs on Rebound were inspired by time you spent living in Greece. Are you planning on revisiting Greece on this trip? 

Yeah, in fact the last show I’m doing is in Athens at this cultural foundation, and I’m gonna play with a band that I was playing with when I went over there to start writing. We’re gonna have a string quartet and we’re gonna play the album in its entirety. Hopefully we’ll officially announce that show over the next week.

Will this be the first time you’ve been there since you finished & released the record? 

Yes, so that will be really special.

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Just a few hours later Eleanor took the stage at the Bottle, and it felt equally special. Joined by guitarist Ryan Dugre, bassist Ian Romer, and drummer Noah Hecht, Eleanor – as advertised in our interview – did not pull any punches with her arrangements on these songs. On Rebound tracks like “In Between Stars” and “Make Me A Song” are shimmering synth-pop jams, but in this full-band setting the songs took on new life as thrillingly amped-up krautrock guitar workouts in the vein of Can or Television.

They were joined on “My Mistakes” and the show closing “Roosevelt Island” by saxophonist Ben Jaffe of NYC band Pill, who opened the show with their stunning Sun Ra by-way-of Sonic Youth no-wave attack. Jaffe proved to be an adept player in multiple genres, his gorgeous trills in concert with Dugre’s leads adding both a pastoral loveliness and a sense of triumph to Eleanor’s songs.

In all, the whole evening felt very triumphant. If Eleanor doesn’t play Chicago for a while, this set was a fantastic send-off.

SETLIST: My Jesus Phase/ The Letter, Everything, When I Knew, Does Turquoise Work?, Blueberry Boat, Inn of The Seventh Ray, In Between Stars, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Open Season/ Sweetest Girl, Make Me A Song, My Mistakes (w/ Ben Jaffe), Are We Good?, It’s Hard, Stare At The Sun, Roosevelt Island (w/ Ben Jaffe)

Rebound is available now on Frenchkiss Records. Click HERE for tour dates and more info on Eleanor Friedberger!!!

-Phil Cerza

 

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Anna Burch talks touring and getting signed to Polyvinyl at The Pygmalion Festival 2018

Shortly after arriving into Champaign-Urbana, WLUW Programming Director Paul and I kicked off Pygmalion by heading over to the Blackbird to watch Anna Burch and Nectar.

 

The bar, Blackbird, was small and inviting. Entering through the beer garden, we grabbed drinks, shuffled to the front to stand in front of the backdrop of electronic slot machines and watch Nectar.

 

Nectar indulged in some dorky moments, their excitement about the latest season of Survivor and played songs that left us starry-eyed. Shortly after their set, we had the opportunity to chat with Anna Burch over her beer of choice, Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter.

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Paul Quinn: “Quit the Curse” was your debut album. How does it feel to put it out on a record label like Polyvinyl and then tour, basically, the world?

Anna Burch: Yea, it’s been definitely a more legitimate year than I thought I would have. So it feels great, yeah, it kind of caught me by surprise and I think I’ve been too busy to overanalyze it too much.

 

PQ: Being in Europe for the last month or two, what’s been your favorite part of being overseas?

AB: The hospitality is really great. Lot’s of free food & booze & places to stay...That’s been really nice. It’s a little bit of a tease sometimes because you know you go to a place you’ve never been before but you’re only there for like 18 hours, or something. So that can be a little bit of a bummer. But I mean I think European audiences are a little more appreciative.

 

PQ: What’s one European cuisine you’ve missed since coming back?

AB: I’ll tell you what I don’t miss, and It’s only been 2 days, the endless amounts of bread and cheese...My favorite European thing though is a soft boiled egg that you crack into from the top and spoon out...It’s so good–no one does that here.

 

Kaylie Plauche: So you worked with Paul Cherry on the album, how was that process?

AB:It was really casual, we were kind of just friends passing the time. He was in music school at the time doing a lot of self-recording, and I wasn’t really doing anything with music but we became friends while I was living in Chicago. Just kind of happened by accident. He asked if I had any songs we could work on and I had written like 1 song years prior, so we worked on a little demo together and it was really fun and (he was) supportive. (Paul Cherry) told me to write more songs and some back and we would work on a record together.

KP: You have a lyric in "What I Want" that’s, “I won’t play the victim, just because I can’t get what I want”, What did you mean by that? is there story behind that?

AB: It’s weird actually talking about this in the context of the last year, because it’s obviously a lot more loaded–the word victim particularly. What I meant was basically, if someone hurts your feelings, then it’s really easy to get defensive…Just put yourself in the role of the victim and it’s not a very productive way to go through life. Sometimes it just takes a little time to step away from something and think ‘yeah i contributed to this scenario, in my own way, and this person isn’t a bad guy. Not everything has to be so black and white.

KP: I really reconcile with that a lot. I was in a relationship where I started to victimize myself, but I realized I was just as much at fault, I said hurtful things too and I’m the bad guy just as much…

AB: I think there’s a lot of nuance that has gotten kind of skimmed over in some ways, in those dynamics and I think it’s important to keep things in perspective. Anytime you kind of put your life into this narrative of good and bad binary’s, it’s just not a good way to live.

 

PQ: Now that you’re back home and relatively close to Chicago, what’s one thing you’re looking forward to being back in the city again?

AB: Well, I’m not in Chicago. I live in Detroit. Actually, I didn’t move back to Detroit because I really never lived in Detroit–I grew up in Southwest Michigan, actually closer to Chicago than Detroit. But, yeah, I moved to Detroit like 4 years ago. I really miss Chicago a lot...The thing I miss most about Chicago is all the good movie theatres...Showing classic movies and screening 35mm and all that stuff...I love Music Box and Gene Siskel and Doc on the southside.

 

KP: Anywhere you’re looking forward to visiting specifically when you come back to Chicago for your show at The Empty Bottle?

AB: If I have time, I’ll actually try and catch a screening. But, it's the last date on a two and a half week tour, so it’ll probably depend on my band...But, I'm looking forward to the Bottle! Maybe get some breakfast at Bite Cafe.

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As we concluded our interview, Burch took the stage about 10 minutes later. With no introduction was needed for the fans present, she went straight in two tracks.“That song was the title track for an album released in February, on Polyvinyl,” Burch said to the audience, who cheered back with encouragement. She went on to say, “Pretty sure this is the Polyvinyl staff party” as the crowd chuckled at the underlying truth of the statement.

 

Burch went on to talk about the Champaign-Urbana based label and visiting their office just after returning from her 2 and month European tour 2 days prior. She thought aloud that “it’s like 6 am over there but [she’s] ready to party”, before playing her most popular track to date, “2 Cool 2 Care.”

 

Simmering down from the previously upbeat song, she took a momnent to announce, “This next song is about dating a drug dealer....It’s called ‘Asking 4 a Friend’.” With the lights dimmed, per request from Burch and the band, a seedier, intimate atmosphere became apparent. Taking notice to this, she claimed “We’re gonna slow it down a little bit, and play a country ballad,” whiler tuning her guitar  in preperation for the song “Belle Isle.”

 

She asked the members of the band to exit the stage before playing a newer, solo song to the close audience members. Burch invited band members back onstage to close out the show with her more emotional tracks, “What I Want” and “Tea Soaked letter.”

 

If you missed her at Pygmalion, make sure to catch Anna Burch co-headlining with Fred Thomas & Common Holly at The Empty Bottle on October 26th.

 

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Lala Lala

Lala Lala "The Lamb" Album Release Show at the Empty Bottle

This particular record release show felt really special :)

The three bands, Choral Reefr, Dehd and Lala Lala brought in a huge (and sold-out) crowd, all packed in tight. A ton of musicians from local bands came out to show support. I admittedly freaked a little bit when I saw Greta from Frankie Cosmos walking into the bottle.

The night began and the mood was set with funk covered synths and glittering guitars from Choral Reefer and Dehd, Lala Lala then took the stage at around midnight. She played her new album, The Lamb, straight through and most likely for the first time. You could tell she was excited but had a really humble stage presence.

Lille West’s voice is one of the most striking elements of Lala Lala. It’s deep but crystal clear, and the ends of her words curl over into sweet high-pitched notes. It was hard to decipher the lyrics live unless you knew the album, but The Lamb is worth a deep listen because her lyrics are both funny and elusive. The floors vibrated and so did I when I heard her play “Destroyer”. A heart wrenching song with sad lyrics and an impending sense of dread. “The flu” sounded like a grunge version of an 80’s pop ballad in a John Hughes films, but all distorted and slowed down.

Her album takes a few listens to get into but once you do, you feel this instant connection with the writer, Lillie West. You’re immediately thrown into what sounds like her personal diary entries and the dread cuts you right up. A great show all in all, and one that many will think of fondly.

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