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25518Re: Well?

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  • biceeichler
    Sep 2, 2008
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      --- In ProgAndOther@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Swanson" <jwswanson1@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Looking forward to some ProgDay reports......
      >


      Here's what I posted over on rec.music.progressive:

      The weekend kicked off with the traditional Friday night pre-show at
      Local 506 in Chapel Hill. The first band was Kinetic Element, who
      started by announcing how honored they were to be playing the opening
      notes of ProgDay weekend. Their music is heavily inspired by ELP,
      with lots of keyboards - the keyboardist actually started out as a
      solo act, then hooked up with a drummer and bassist to play live
      shows. They played an ELP cover at one point, but I forget what song
      it was. The music was about 75% instrumental, and the bits with
      lyrics usually had religious themes but weren't preachy.

      The other half of the pre-show was played by Speechless, an
      all-instrumental fusionish band. They played well, but for some
      reason decided to crank the volume up way, way louder than the tiny
      nightclub room could accommodate. Made it hard to stay in the
      performance area - I ended up going out to the bar and watching them
      through the plexiglass half-wall that separates it from the stage
      area. The band played most (if not all) of the material from their
      CD, and some new songs slated for their next disc. They also did a
      cover of Rush's "La Villa Strangiato" and a medley of music from
      "Jesus Christ Superstar". Their second to last song was also a
      medley, starting out as Roundabout and then going through pieces of
      Carry On Wayward Son and other songs by Rush, Queensryche and
      probably others that I'm forgetting. It was a good set, it's just a
      shame that it was so friggin' LOUD it was hard to listen to. The
      show wrapped up around 12:45, and by that time most people had
      already left to get some sleep before the early start on Saturday.

      The next morning arrived with 200% humidity and temperatures in the
      90s. It was ugly. Really, really ugly. Driving out to Storybook
      Farm, I almost missed the entrance because I was looking for the
      nearby radio tower, but it was hidden in a thick mist. Looking over
      the vendor tables before the first band started, my glasses kept
      fogging up. It was really, really humid. The sun eventually burned
      the mist off, but by mid-day, everyone was hoping for clouds because
      the sun was just baking. Mother Nature did not cooperate this year
      at all.

      The first band up on Saturday was Von Frickle. They perform dressed
      in all-white outfits: white jumpsuits, white "caps" that cover their
      entire head and white plastic masks. The only visible part of each
      band member was their hands. I don't know how they could stand
      keeping those masks on in the heat and humidity, but they wore them
      through the whole set. Their music is hard to describe - kind of
      fusiony, kind of spacey - all over the map. Half the time the
      guitars sounded like keyboards, so it was hard to tell who was
      generating what sounds. Very interesting stuff - I ended up buying
      all four of the CDs they had for sale at their table. That night at
      the hotel, I overheard someone ask the bassist where the name "Von
      Frickle" came from, and with a totally straight face he explained
      that their space ship had crashed in an area with a lot of German
      immigrants, so they took that name to remain inconspicuous.

      The second band on Saturday was Holding Pattern. They were a
      guitar/keys/drums power trio, with the keyboardist sometimes
      switching to bass. Most of the songs were basically life support for
      an extended guitar solo. The guitarist was really good, but I have a
      fairly low threshold for "guitar hero" type music, and the sun was
      absolutely brutal by then (they had the dreaded early afternoon
      slot), so I ended up getting lunch in the pavilion and doing some
      more CD shopping - anything to stay in the shade.

      Saturday's third band was the "pop-prog" band of the weekend,
      Abigail's Ghost. What I've heard of their studio tracks sounded
      almost exactly like Porcupine Tree. Performing live, they didn't
      come across as quite as much of a clone, but I just wasn't into them.
      After the first couple songs, I listened to the rest of their set
      from the back of the field while smoking a cigar and reading a book.
      The only thing I remember is the big, grungy guitar parts and someone
      yelling "Let me hear you make some NOISE" a couple times to get the
      crowd fired up. Just not my sort of band at all, but most people
      seemed to like them.

      The final band on Saturday was Ain Soph from Japan. They went on in
      the early evening, just as cloud cover arrived to block the sun.
      Their music was all instrumental and fairly jazzy, with lots of
      guitar and keyboard solos. There's almost a new-agey element to
      them, which made for a fairly mellow, laid-back set. I liked them,
      and they seemed to get a good response from the crowd, but that
      evening I heard a couple people saying they thought the set was a
      little too mellow and kind of boring. Personally, I thought it was a
      good change of pace after a couple loud and raucous type bands.
      Right at the very end of the set, the clouds that had saved us from
      the sun turned on us and stared pouring down rain. Ain Soph played
      their last song as the audience quickly packed up their lawn chairs
      and ran for cover.

      Back at the hotel Saturday night, there was a bit of a party out by
      the pool. Members of Von Frickle, Abigail's Ghost and Cheer Accident
      were there at one point or another, and around midnight all the guys
      from Secret Oyster came out and were joking around with the few folks
      still out there.

      Sunday morning arrived without as much humidity (no mist), and
      possibly a little cooler, but the sun was still blazing. There was
      occasional cloud cover, but most people spent most of the day watching
      the bands from whatever shady spot they could find.

      The first band up was Cheer Accident. Where have those guys been all
      my life? Probably my favorite band of the weekend, because I like
      the weird stuff. Speaking of weird, the band was introduced by stage
      managers Geoff and Jay, with Jay wearing nothing but a jester cap and
      tie-died underwear and speaking in a fictional language. Geoff
      translated it into English, but it mostly came out as a collection of
      the titles of Cheer Accident's songs and albums. Then the band came
      out and played a wicked set of avant prog, with intricately composed
      pieces combining with bizarre guitar solos, toy megaphones and exotic
      dancing. I must have taken at least three dozen pictures during their
      set, because there was always something odd going on. The three main
      band members stayed on stage the whole time, with four other
      musicians coming and going as needed to sing or play trombone,
      trumpet, guitar, drums, etc. Just a brilliant set - I hope I get a
      chance to see them again some day. After the set, I went straight to
      their merchandise table and dropped $50 on CDs, and only bought about
      half of the dozen or so albums they had available. I should have
      bought more - no sense bringing money home...

      The second band of the day was Pinnacle. From the sample track they
      had up on the ProgDay web site, I wasn't expecting to like them at
      all - it sounded very neo-proggy, and I generally hate neoprog. But
      their set wasn't bad. A little more mainstream than I generally go
      for, but not bad. Drum, guitar and keyboard trio. They played for
      about 45 minutes, then asked the ProgDay organizers if they had time
      for one more, which turned out to be a cover of "Here Comes the
      Flood" that was re-arranged enough that I didn't recognize it until
      the vocals started.

      Next up was Canvas Solaris. They were about as close to prog-metal as
      we got this year, but it was a very technical sort of metal, with
      interlocking guitar parts and stop-on-a-dime precision. Very crunchy
      for the most part and also fairly complex. There was one bit where
      the keyboardist was playing a wild improvisation on a Moog, and the
      rest of the band were just standing there - but every so often they
      all suddenly blasted out a chord or two, all together and all
      perfectly timed. The drummer wasn't tapping a cymbal or anything to
      keep time as far as I could see, and the band members weren't even
      looking at each other. They must have been counting it out in their
      heads, but the timing was just amazing.

      Canvas Solaris played for just over 40 minutes and then stopped. The
      crowd yelled for an encore, but they were done. I asked one of the
      band members later why the set was so short, and he said that they've
      found that most people start to zone out after more than 45 minutes
      or so of their style of music, so they play short sets. I later
      heard that the band had informed the ProgDay folks that they were
      only going to use half of their allotted time, so Pinnacle was
      brought in to fill the other half of the set.

      The fourth group on Sunday was Mirthrandir. They were another band
      that I didn't think I was going to like all that much based on the
      sample track on the web site, but they were better than I expected.
      Probably the most typically symphonic prog band of the weekend. I
      think they might have been the only band with a dedicated vocalist
      (as opposed to one of the instrumentalists also singing), although I
      think Mirthrandir's singer also played some trumpet. Anyway, like
      Kinetic Element, they had some vaguely Christian-rock sounding lyrics,
      but nothing preachy. They definitely went over well with the
      symphonic prog fans.

      The final band this year was Secret Oyster. I ended up dropping $75
      at their merch table. They were that good. I think most people were
      expecting a good set, but they exceeded everyone's expectations.
      Incredibly tasty, flowing, jazzy music with excellent guitar, sax and
      keyboard solos. They probably played for close to two hours, but it
      seemed like it was over far too soon. After their main set, they got
      the expected encore, but then after that the crowd just wouldn't stop
      applauding and calling for another encore. The band was done - they
      were standing by the stage and had already started drinking beers,
      but the audience just wouldn't give up. The ProgDay organizers
      finally talked them into going back up and playing one more song.
      Later that night at the annual Sunday night pool party back at the
      hotel, when the guys from Secret Oyster showed up they got a
      spontaneous ovation from everyone at the party. I've never seen
      anything like it. Man, were they good.

      There were rumors floating all weekend that this might be the final
      ProgDay, and from what I heard the ticket sales were a little
      underwhelming this year. But when Secret Oyster finished their
      second encore, Steve Sly took the stage to thank everyone for coming
      and said something about maybe seeing everyone again next year.
      Hopefully it will happen. Despite the heat, humidity and rain, it
      was still a fantastic weekend. I'm glad I went, and I'll be there
      next year if there is one. If you've never gone to one, get your ass
      to Chapel Hill next year. You won't regret it.

      -- Bob
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