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  • biceeichler
    Sep 2, 2013

      Hmmm, I see Yahoo decided to completely redesign the web interface for Yahoo Groups - that's going to take some getting used to.  Just spent two minutes searching for the "Post" link only to eventually figure out it's "New Topic" now...


      Anyway, I just got back from ProgDay about an hour ago.  As usual, I'm beyond exhausted - some year I'll learn better than to stay at the Sunday night pool party until 4:30am when I have to drive nine hours the next day, but this wasn't that year.  How late did the party go?   There were still several people there when I gave up and went to bed...


      Quick impressions - it was a great year.  Not a single band than I can say I totally disliked, and there were a few newfound favorites and a couple great performances by bands I already liked.


      There was a Chapman stick player at the preshow named Rob Martino who did a 45 minute solo set to make up for the fact that Half Past Four had to cancel.  I liked him enough to buy his CD.  I'm listening to my audience recording of his set right now, and it came out great.


      The reason Half Past Four couldn't be there was because they got turned back at the border for not having the proper work visas.  As the vocalist from Third Degree put it, our border patrol is hard at work protecting us from Canadian prog bands.


      Dreadnaught's preshow set was fantastic.  I liked them at lot last year out at Storybook, but this year's performance was even better.  Maybe it was just because I was more familiar with their music.  I bought the 5-song EP they were selling and listened to it twice on the drive home.  It's really good.  Track 2 is a freaking masterpiece of genre-mashing.


      Third Degree's set was good, but to be honest I don't remember much from it.  They didn't go on until around 10:30 or 11:00 Friday night, and after getting up early and driving nine hours, I was pretty spent by the time they played.  I do remember them doing a nice cover of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up".  The vocalist from Half Past Four was supposed to sing the female parts, but since she wasn't there, they found a replacement.  I'm not sure who she was, but I was talking to her outside Local 506 while waiting for the club to open, and she said her husband handed her the song on CD that afternoon and said "Here, learn this, you're singing it with 3rd Degree tonight".


      My memories of Saturday are already starting to get fuzzy - maybe they'll clear up after  I get some sleep.  It was hot and humid - I was already sweating through my shirt by 9am.  I took SPF 30 sunscreen thinking it would be enough - it wasn't enough.  Ended up with red arms, legs and face.


      The Iranian band Mavara opened the festival.  They were supposed to play first on Sunday, but one of the members of Thank You Scientist couldn't be there in time for their Saturday slot, so the line-up of both days got scrambled around a bit.  I thought Mavara was OK, but after the novelty of seeing a prog band from Iran wore off, it hit me that they're pretty much a neoprog band with accented vocals, which isn't my thing at all.  Their manager said she only brought their CDs with English lyrics because she didn't think anyone would buy the one with Persian lyrics - I probably would have bought that one just to hear what it sounded like.


      Miriodor went second, and I enjoyed their set, but right now I can't really remember anything at all from it.  I just remember afterwards, when I was buying their CD, the guy in front of me in line handed one of the band members two fives and five ones, and the guy from the band said "No, it's $15."  Then he counted it again and said "Oh, well, now you know why we play in 7/8.  Because we can't count to 15."


      Corima was third, and oh my god did they kick ass.  All I knew going in was that they were influenced by Magma, but holy crap they sound just like Magma.  In rapid-fire, fusiony mode with chanted, otherworldly lyrics.  It was overwhelming.  There were a few spots where they slowed down, but for the most part the set was just an onslaught of staggering musicianship.  I loved it.  When I went to buy their CD, they only had one left and there was already someone in line in front of me, but he was busy talking to someone so I snatched the last CD off the table while he wasn't looking.  I did offer to let him have it after he realized what happened, but he was very gracious about it and said a friend of his had already bought a copy and he'd just listen to that one.


      Oblivion Sun closed the show on Saturday.  I've never been much of a Happy the Man or Oblivion Sun fan, so this set was when I did my cigar at the back of the field break.  What I heard from back there was nice enough, but - I don't know.  This band just doesn't click with me.  Most people seemed to love them though.


      I had to race to get from Storybook back to the hotel to shower and change clothes, then race downtown to grab some pizza at the place two doors down from Local 506 and ended up getting into the club just as the Saturday Night show was beginning.  The local prog-metal band Hephystus opened, and at the start of the set the guitarist/vocalist promised the band would kick our asses.  And they delivered on that promise.  I'm not a huge prog-metal fan, and these guys were probably more metal than prog, but I actually enjoyed the set enough to buy their CD.  It was super-aggressive, head-banging fun.


      Morglbl's set didn't start until about a quarter after 10, and they played for about an hour and a half, so by the end of it I was starting to get really tired.  They ended with a long cover version of Smoke on the Water, and I actually found myself wishing they would wrap it up already because I wanted to go get some sleep.  But they put on their usual fun show full of humor and amazing musicianship.  They were promoting a new CD, so they played a lot of songs from that.  They also did their lounge-jazz version of "Highway to Hell" by request - I noticed a couple of local college kids who came into the club right in the middle of that song, and I don't think they had any idea what was going on.


      At the end of their main set, the band went out the back door of the club and the audience started chanting "One more song!  One more song!"  Eventually the drummer came back in, but the guitarist and bassist didn't.  Just as the crowd was starting to lose enthusiasm, two voices from the back of the room started chanting "Mor-gl-bl!  Mor-gl-bl!"  Everyone turned around and there was the guitarist and bassist - they had gone around the block, came in the front door of Local 506 and were standing at the back of the audience, egging on the calls for an encore.


      Sunday morning was, if anything, even hotter than Saturday had been.  Out of the Beardspace opened the show.  They're a fun band to watch because just about everyone in the group plays multiple instruments, so they're constantly switching places.  In one song, the bassist and keyboard player switched in mid-song.


      Thank You Scientist went on next.  The night before, out by the pool, their drummer was telling us about how their lead singer took what was basically a really technical band that only ther musicians liked and turned them in into a more accessible and melodic group.  I hate to say it, but the lead singer was the one thing I didn't like about the band.  There's just something about his voice and style of singing that just rubs me the wrong way.  Musically, the band is fantastic - maybe a little heavier and more frantic than I normally go for, but I love the horn section.  I just can't take that singer.


      Herd of Instinct was third on Sunday.  I heard a couple people criticize them for having "zero stage presence" - they basically just came out, stared at their instruments the whole time and played.  They only made a couple minor announcements between songs, and when their set was over, they just kind of shuffled off stage - I barely noticed that they had finished (of course, I had fallen to the temptation of several Belgian beers during the set).  Personally, I don't really have a problem with the no stage presence thing - I liked their music.  Very rhythmic, atmospheric and trancey.  After the previous two bands, I kind of needed a break from stage presence anyway.  I ended up buying both of Herd of Instincts CDs, and the woman running their table handed me a cardboard box and said if you buy both CDs, you can pick any disc out of that box for free - I ended up with a free copy of Tool's Lateralus.  Not a bad deal.


      While simakDialog was getting set up, a sudden storm hit Storybook - it went from a few raindrops here and there to a torrent very quickly.  When it was over, the band started their set about 40 minutes earlier than scheduled, and it turned out to be a good thing because about an hour in, we were hit by extreme high winds.  I was sitting in my chair kind of drifting off to the jazzy, percussion-heavy music when suddenly the canopy over the soundboard lifted off the ground and came crashing down on me.  Fortunately no damage was done, and the guys from Beardspace helped get the canopy off me and back over the soundboard.


      But that was it for ProgDay - the winds weren't letting up - a couple other canopies lifted off and at least one got destroyed by wind, and finally a flash flood warning was issued, so simakDialog's set had to be cut short and the fastest breakdown in the history of ProgDay happened.  Good thing too, because as I was driving away from Storybook Farm, the clouds opened up and it poured for over an hour.  The annual Sunday night party ended up being held indoors in the room adjecent to where breakfast is normally served, although a few people wandered out to the pool.


      So another ProgDay has come and gone.  Next year will be the 20th edition - hard to believe.


      Time for me to get some sleep...


        -- Bob


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