I've been looking forward to writing this article for a while as I get to just gush about some of the acts appearing at PYGMALION this year that I'm particularly excited for. Now these are just the artists that I really love, so if I don't mention someone you're looking forward to, I apologize — but that's the beauty of the festival setting, right? Catching some bands that you've never heard of before in hopes of finding a new favorite. If you need a place to start, however, here are some acts that you have to see. 


Tamino

I first heard Tamino when he appeared on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series on Youtube. Tall, long dark hair, his crooning voice traversing octaves as he played guitar. His guitar style and lyrics immediately reminded me of one of my all time favorite musicians, Jeff Buckley. Similar look and playing to Buckley, but Tamino is entirely his own. 

After the first song on his Tiny Desk concert, he brought out his band, which included Radiohead's bassist Colin Greenwood. Tamino was in his early twenties at the time, and to see him with the support of a member of arguably the most famous alternative band ever? There must be something really special to Tamino — and there certainly is. 

His debut album Amir dropped in 2019. It's dark, brooding, and atmospheric, with Tamino's voice and writing the star of the album. His second album, Sahar, is set to drop on September 23rd — wait a minute, the same day as his PYGMALION performance? Yes indeed. He'll be celebrating with the C-U crowd, and based on the singles he has released so far, this album is no sophomore slump. His song "The First Disciple" is maybe his best song yet. His first album blended Arabic music with more western pop styles, but I'm really hoping the new record has a little more Arabic influence to it — but even if it doesn't, I'm probably still going to love it.

Opening up for Tamino will be Sweetmelk, whose music is the absolute perfect pairing with Tamino. We named Sweetmelk's Living Room as our favorite EP of 2021, so this show will be one for the books. They'll be performing on September 23rd, at 8 p.m. at NOLA's (inside).

Lido Pimienta

Lido Pimienta is a new find for me, despite her being active since 2010. The Colombian singer won the Polaris Music Prize in 2017 for her album La Papessa, and in 2020 she released her second album Miss Colombia. Her sound is a stunning blend of synthpop and electronic combined with typical Afro-Colombian styles. She's only going further with her career, and constantly pushing herself. She has her own TV show on the way, Lido TV — however, it will only be available in Canada. If all of that wasn't enough, she's also a record breaker, becoming the first woman of color to compose a score for the NYC Ballet

I found her through her song "Nada" which features some absolutely beautiful vocals, and danceable, infectious percussion — despite the song focusing on themes of death. She is also an incredible visual artist, with every outfit and video shot being carefully curated, impactful, and meaningful. She'll be performing on Thursday, September 22nd at 8 p.m. at Rose Bowl Tavern (inside).

Opening up for Pimienta at 7 p.m. is Mermaid Heaven, one of C-U's most exciting bands. The group recently dropped a new song titled "You," with an accompanying live performance that they sent to NPR as an entry into their Tiny Desk Contest. Despite not winning, the group made it pretty dang far, and got a shoutout from NPR. 

Vieux Farka Touré

Malian-born guitarist Vieux Farka Touré plays African fingerstyle guitar, but is also a very talented singer as well. In 2010 he performed at the opening ceremonies of the FIFA World Cup, and has since released quite a few albums, collaborated with Dave Matthews, Idan Raichel, and just announced a collaborative album with Khruangbin — check out their song "Savanne" here. His music is absolutely beautiful and enchanting, fusing rock, Latin music, and other African influences, and often paying homage to Mali, reminding listeners of its beauty. 

Boiling it down and simplifying it, his music is just incredibly exciting to listen to. He is a virtuoso guitarist, exploring the fretboard with unbelievable speed and ease, and playing incredibly expressively as well. This will be such a fun night of music. 

Opening up for Touré is Mhondoro Rhythm Success, an exciting band who perform pop music from Zimbabwe. It's upbeat, groovy, and very danceable. These two great acts will be performing on Saturday, September 24th, starting at 8 p.m. at Rose Bowl Tavern (outside). 

Local acts

Along with the local groups mentioned above, there are a few other local bands that I regularly have on rotation. Kangaroo Court will be opening up for Petey on Friday, and I just caught them live for the first time about a month ago, and man, these guy are tight. You can tell they love playing music and putting on a show, as they absolutely shred through their songs. They've accumulated quite a sizeable fan base, and I highly recommend you come see for yourself why they're so popular. 

Soft and Dumb are opening up Victor Internet on Saturday, and Soft and Dumb also took C-U by storm during their time here (they are living in Chicago now). They just released their new album, and play a unique blend of indie rock, pop, noise, and more. Their song "Be Better" will most likely be on my top songs of the year on Spotify, as it's so freaking catchy. 

Decapitation In The Food Court is a newer band to the area, playing midwest emo, punk, hardcore, and psych. They seemlessly blend these genres together, throwing in some funky pop-culture samples along the way, but leaving an impact with their lyrics. Check out our recent interview with them here.

Last but far from least, That's No Moon will be making a long-awaited return to playing live shows. They've been off for a few years, and just recently announced their return. They have been in the studio, so new music is certainly on the way, and I imagine we can expect to hear some of that at this show. 

I know it sounds like a cop-out to say, but all of the groups on the bill this year are truly wonderful, and you can't go wrong seeing any of them. To see the full lineup and schedule, head to PYGMALION's website here. To purchase tickets, head here. PYGMALION runs from September 22-24. 

Top photo from PYGMALION's Facebook page.