Prog Festival Profile: Very Prog Festival in Toulouse, France


One of the most exciting trends I’ve seen in the progressive music world is the emergence of several brand new prog festivals, each with stellar lineups and great participation. I’ve had the honor of profiling several of them in their flagship years, and I am proud to help support the Very Prog Festival in Toulouse, which hopes to be the premiere festival in France for progressive metal acts. In their flagship year, they have snagged several heavyweight acts (among them Sons of Apollo and Persefone), as well as other local French acts, which are profiled below. We spoke with Romain Castel and Pauline Candelot about how the festival came about, their background with prog, and their hopes for future festivals.

How did Very Prog Festival come about?

Romain Castel  : As a musician myself ( I have been a drummer in a prog metal  band) this idea of setting up a festival around that genre has been in my head for the past 10 years. I started small at first by organizing  a couple of gigs and a mini festival around the Toulouse area ( DGM and Myrath came to Toulouse) and from there , it started to take shape in my mind that it would be awesome to gather fans and bands for a whole weekend.
With the support of our project manager Hatem, who runs a cultural association in Toulouse and who often organises gigs there (Myrath, Manigance, Uli Jon Roth, ADX), we took a leap of faith and decided to launch our festival which is unmatched in that part of France, or actually in France in general.

Pauline Candelot: I am a prog metal enthusiast. I have been writing reviews for The Progspace and manage an online prog community which gathers people from all around the world. At an early state of the project, Romain asked me to join the small yet efficient team (we’re 3 people) in order to deal with PR and preparing other aspects of the festival.

Why was Toulouse chosen as the host city? 

 Romain : As mentioned before, there was no equivalent in the Toulouse area. It is a pioneering festival which has no precedent, France has featured metal festivals (Hellfest), prog rock (Crescendo) , extreme metal festivals, but really not prog metal oriented festivals. Toulouse is sort of in the middle of Saint Palais where Crescendo is held, Marseille with Prog Sud Festival (both more prog rock oriented) and Be Prog my Friend in Barcelona (with whom we shared Sons Of Apollo and Persefone on the line up). So we knew there is a prog community here and elsewhere who would rejoice at the idea of having a prog metal festival.

 Tell us about the venue.

The Metronum is a 600 person capacity which belongs to the city of Toulouse. It was created in 2014 aiming at programming a great variety of bands (some professionals, others amateurs) in quality circumstances as far as sound, lights and other equipment. The venue welcomes French bands and international acts all year round and has its own  in house, professional, talented crew who are used to working with different types of musicians. In Toulouse, you’ll either find venues of 150/ 200 capacity or else go straight to bigger venues of 2K+. We decided the Metronum would be a fitting location to host our first time edition. It will be indoor,s as you never know about the weather in October but the venue also has an outdoor area. There are 2 stages: a big one where the bands will be perform and another smaller room which will be dedicated to merchandising and signing sessions. On top of that, we will also have drinks and snacks.



Very Prog Festival appears to be more catered to fans of progressive metal. What are your personal histories with progressive metal, or progressive music in general?

Romain : I have been playing drums for more than 20 years and discovered Dream Theater and this type of prog metal in the late 90s. I was hooked by this style and love discovering new bands. I also enjoy prog rock but as much as metal as I feel prog rock lacks  this powerful element , which is also why I have been a Metallica fan since I am 14. Therefore the line up took a prog metal oriented direction . I don’t wish to mix rock and metal at the moment, the idea is to create a bill that will please metalheads and progheads .
Pauline : I came from a musical family, my dad being a drummer , guitar and piano player. He is also a fan of Dream Theater that he took us to see live on many tours. My musical interest today goes beyond prog metal as I enjoy prog rock, post rock, doom, stoner, avant garde and experimental bands . I get sent lots of materials for reviewing and therefore listen to a lot of different genres.

The idea to include both international acts and French progressive metal bands is a great idea. Tell us about the French bands and the French progressive metal scene.

Romain : Having a France based prog metal festival without French acts was unthinkable ! That’s why 3 bands out of 8 are French : Amon Sethis, Taotopia and Spheric Universe Experience. These bands are different in terms of their history and career. SUE has been chosen for being one of the pillars in the French prog scene , they have performed in internationally acclaimed festivals such Prog Power USA, Crescendo, Prog Power Belgium, Raises Fest. They are recording a new album as we speak.

Spheric Universe Experience
Amon Sethis is an up and coming band with 3 albums out already and performing live a lot supporting professional acts.
Taotopia is a brand new band from Toulouse, they are more djent oriented and they released their debut album last March called Nightfall.  Having a local act from the Toulouse area was something that I was very clear on from the start and it will be the case in the next editions as well.
Pauline : The French progressive metal scene is quite active , a lot of bands are out there, but they have a hard time finding a platform to perform live. As we said before, Very Prog Festival is the only metal prog oriented festival in France ( compared to NL , Spain , Italy or Spain ). That’s one of our goals with Very Prog: offer French acts the opportunity to perform live in a quality environment and bring prog metal closer to the French audience , who otherwise has to travel quite far.
What do you hope to achieve with Very Prog Festival? Romain: My wish is to make the festival a success this year but also in the years to come. We want to keep the festival with a family-like atmosphere to keep it real between fans and bands. A bit like Prog Power Europe has been doing for the past 20 years in the Netherlands. They have managed to build a strong community around the festival but always kept the same venue even though the festival has extended from one 1 to 3. But first, let’s make the 2018 edition a success and it will be the starting point of a great adventure. We are starting it strong with Sons of Apollo and Caligula’s Horse headlining both nights , but we felt it was necessary to establish the reputation of Very Prog Festival.
Pauline : I hope this year’s edition will be a great success in Toulouse, we already have plenty of positive feedback and people will come from France but other countries too ( NL, Spain, Italy , England). We want to make sure both bands and audience have a great experience and we are working hard towards that goal with our partners Useless Merch Pride, Metalorgie, The Progspace and Music Wave ! Prog Box Studios has designed a beautiful website where you can find lots of info about the festival. Finally, we also have had the support of the prog community and other prog festivals like Be Prog! My Friend, Mid Summer Prog Festival, UK tech Fest , Crescendo or Prog Power Europe, whether it is for helping us promoting or giving us advice. We are lucky to evolve in a strong and loyal community of people who love prog music.

Very Prog Festival poster

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