Photo by Sasha Geffen
For 10 years, Elsinore have played Pygmalion’s stages. I became very familiar with the Champaign staple during my time at the University of Illinois. Lead singer Ryan Groff has the vocal power and sustain of any top indie pop group, and their 2013 release, Push/Pull, showcases his talent with song after song full of blasting choruses. “The Art of Pulling” is the album’s standout track, one with the perfect balance of lyrical quality and emotional tenderness. Live, it plays like an anthem, and the crowd’s response was palpable on the first night of this year’s Pygmalion. Elsinore’s popularity in Champaign could easily be seen from the attendance of the show, which might have even surpassed that of Real Estate who took the stage 30 minutes later.
Bands that thrive in mid-markets such as Champaign-Urbana are often brimming with talent that never reaches the masses. As Elsinore enters its 10th year, that’s surely something that Groff recognizes. Without major label money behind them, it’s hard for pop music to make its way to more mainstream ears. Don’t get me wrong, Elsinore are far from jaded. The band has set down its roots in C-U though, and are vocal supporters of the thriving artistic community that is on display for more than just the four days of Pygmalion. Groff expressed his love for the city to me, saying, “The community at large goes to shows, buys records, and is a constant reminder to all of us working hard at our craft that they do care and that they will come see us play. All of that is definitely why I chose to move here in the first place and why I’ve planted such firm roots for the future.” –Kevin McMahon