1:00pm – I’m wasted already. While my friend is attending class, I’m bumming around her apartment with the cat. I eat some ice cream, and I start to feel sick. I start to watch John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, and maybe it’s the circumstances (i.e. wasted, alone in an apartment in Champaign-Urbana at noon), but I start to think that it could be one of the best movies ever made. The pulsing synth score and soapy acting of Kurt Russell set against post-apocalyptic prison-style New York City has never been as cool seeming, and when Harry Dean Stanton shows up I’m more stoked than ever.
4:00pm – So I fell asleep for the last hour or so of Escape From New York, and caught maybe a 2-hour nap. My friend is back home and we’re eating stuffed pizza with garlic, green peppers, and mushrooms. It’s tasty. Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd is on now, and Andy Griffith is mucking it up on screen. He’s so motherfucking stupid and charming, I feel just like an obsessed fan in the movie, eating out the palm of his hand. I’m pretty sure this film predicted the future in lots of ways, and think that maybe that snake fuck Kazan isn’t so bad after all.
8:15pm – I’m sitting on the floor in the lobby of the Krannert Art Museum. It’s just as hot as it was last night and my arms are getting tired leaning on them. I try to sit Indian style but my ankle is still hurting from a fall I took a couple weeks ago. On stage is Owen, the solo act of Mike Kinsella, who most people probably know from Joan of Arc (or Cap’N Jazz, American Football, The Owls, etc.). There’s quite a few people here, all sitting down, and Mike tries making small talk with everyone, though no one really has anything to say. Topics brought up are the new 90210, Randy Moss, and Sarah Palin, but all of these things quickly dissolve. Owen is basically bedroom music; soft acoustic guitar riffs, the occasional lush backing instrumentation, Mike’s weepy voice and heart-on-sleeve lyrics. His act is part performance and part stand up comedy, and he gets lots of laughs from the crowd when he tells a joke or fucks up on guitar. Everyone shuts up when he plays, which is good (for Mike) because if anyone was talking they would probably drown him out*. Mike and I have played in the same fantasy football league for the last three years** and my best friend used to date his sister-in-law. He’s somewhat of a friend, albeit not a particularly close one, but it’s good to seem him play, and after his set we make plans to get really drunk at Canopy Club.
9:15pm – It’s official. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down might be the worst band name ever. Fortunately for us (and them), they aren’t bad. They play some form of folk rock, and Thao Nguyen is super energetic and cute and funny, and we stick around for most of the set getting down, staying down.
10:15pm – At Canopy Club we’re outside, in the front and I’m chain smoking for god knows whatever reason. We’ve met up with Mike and his friends and had a couple of beers and a shot of Jack Daniels in no time. Black Mountain and friends are sitting at the table next to us, and it looks like they’ve drank a whole lot of booze. I’m hoping this will mean an excellent show, but I also have a hard time imagining that Black Mountain every does anything else besides get super wasted and kick out the jams. Mike and I talk about having irrational love for football players (e.g. J.P. Losman), our upcoming match ups, Darren McFadden, etc. Lots of laughs. Lots of drinks.
10:30pm – Mike’s getting us free beers from the downstairs “bands-only” area, and his quest to secure a bottle of Jack Daniels comes up way short when the venue is out of bottles, which is super wack considering Jack Daniels is one of the main sponsors of Pygmalion Festival 2008. This tragedy is dwelled upon later, when downstairs Amber Webber, the adorable singer/tambourine player from Black Mountain exclaims that “life is hard” while pouring the remaining drops of two Jack Daniels bottles into a drink that looks like a vodka and/or gin tonic. I think about proposing marriage to her right there, but hold back because no one likes a creep.
11:30pm – I’m not watching any of the other bands playing before Black Mountain, though my friend urges me to see what the guys from Pattern is Movement look like. I refuse, but see them later wandering around, and they are fat and nerdy and have huge beards, and one of the dudes tells Mike how much he loves one of his songs. Mike responds, “Dude don’t make me fight you,” and walks away immediately, leaving the dude a bit baffled and/or possibly with hurt feelings.
12:00am – This Long Island Iced Tea is great, and so is Black Mountain. The set feels short and is way less rowdy than their previous shows at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, but they sound amazing anyways. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, they play retro inspired heavy psych/metal and have put out two of my favorite records of the past couple years. More or less the reason I’m at Pygmalion Music Festival 2008, they crank out the gems off their latest record “In the Future”, and they regrettably only play one jam of their self titled album (but it’s the epic drug anthem “Druganaut” and shit’s all good). My yells of “Beautiful Ponies” returned nothing as they avoided playing the acoustic ballad “Stay Free”, but after seeing them a few times I know they aren’t really a ‘requests’ type of band.
1:10am – Back outside chain smoking, and Chicago boys The Hood Internet are hosting a mash-up dance party inside. It sounds pretty rad and looks like a whole lot of fun, but to be honest I’m drunker than hell and want nothing to do with moving right about now. Later I find myself back downstairs to fill up some beers with Mike, and as he’s filling up some beers my friend and I are approached by a shorter dude in glasses, who turns out to be Seth, the curator of the Pygmalion Music Festival 2008. He kindly asks us to leave, telling us the free booze is for bands only, only to take it all back when he discovers that we were with Mike. Seth seems like a nice guy, and I’d say he’s done a pretty good job with the festival***.
1:45am – It’s hard to keep my eyes open. Some guy who asked me for a cigarette is now sitting next to us and being bothersome. The Hood Internet drowns out most of our conversation, and he’s talking about being a blues guitarist with this smug fucking look on his face, and if I wasn’t so tired/sleepy/drunk … well, even then I’d have done nothing about it. We leave, but I don’t say goodbye to Mike or anyone, mostly because I have no idea where they went and I’m already forgetting a lot of what happened tonight. Tomorrow morning I will wake up and be upset about leaving my pack of cigarettes and lighter at the bar.
*This is kind of hyperbolic, but for real, it’s pretty quiet, and not in a bad way.
**Some might be surprised, but Mike is an avid sports fan and excellent fantasy football player, having placed (I think) in the top 3 the last two years. He knows his shit.
***The next morning Seth commented on my Pygmalion Music Festival 2008: Introduction randomly to answer my inquiry/lack of knowing why the festival was called what it is. Like I was hoping, the festival was named in honor of the seminal Slowdive LP, “Pygmalion”. This makes me like him a whole lot more and regret I did not know this sweet information before having a brief encounter with him.