Reviews

ProgStock 2018: Day 2

On to Day 2! The day started relatively early (remember, we were awake pretty late for the late night event) at 11:00. Opener Ryche Chlanda and Flying Dreams served up some introspective, hook filled pop prog. Ryche has quite the prog pedigree, having worked with Fireballet, Nektar, and Renaissance among other bands, and he delivered his set with a smoky, soulful voice. He played with a highly accomplished and renowned group of musicians, as well. Seeing Ryche Chlanda & Flying Dreams was a great way to start out Day 2.

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Italian jazz-proggers Accordo dei Contrari were up next. They played an absolutely thrilling mix of jazz and Italian prog that was very reminiscent of the music of Soft Machine or other more jazz influenced progressive groups of the 70s. The band describes themselves as a flower growing among rocks, with both a soft tone and a hard edge. My favorite keyboardists play really chunky, heavy parts, and Accordo delivered with Jon Lord-esque, octave doubled, heavy as hell riffs. Hearing the intricate melodic interplay between the saxophone, guitar, and keyboard was so exciting. Accordo was a stellar act, and I hope any fan of technical, more jazz oriented prog can hear and enjoy their mind blowing melodies and rhythms.

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Next up was Tom Brislin and Friends. Tom’s friends included Dan McGowan from The Tea Club, prolific guitarist Randy McStine, Rajendra Sharma on drums, and David Anthony on auxiliary percussion. I am a huge fan of pop oriented prog, and so I was really looking forward to Tom’s set. He played a mix of songs- some from his solo work (such as his wonderful record Hurry Up and Smell The Roses) , some from The Sea Within, and some new material. One of the early highlights was the dramatic tribute to Keith Emerson, “Titan”. I think Dan McGowan has one of my favorite voices in modern prog, and he handled lead in several parts of this song. Hearing the harmonies between Tom, Dan, and Randy was delightful. I really hope this lineup comes out with an album, because they sound amazing together.

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Tom is an incredibly accomplished keyboard player, but I am grateful that the crowd was able to see that he was a tremendously talented songwriter as well. His solo songs were so melancholy and full of heart- reminiscent of Paul Simon or Kevin Gilbert. And his crystal clear tenor soared above his thoughtful and precise piano playing.

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I must mention that Michael Sadler joined the group for a rousing rendition of Wind Him Up by Saga, which featured a pretty spectacular Latin Jazz breakdown midway through.

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Next up were long-time San Francisco Bay-area prog rockers, Enchant. These guys absolutely nailed their set, even surpassing their last major Northeast festival show as headliners at RoSFest 2015.  Despite the fact that they wrote several highly influential prog albums spanning the last three decades and are highly regarded in prog circles, we are of the opinion at Proglodytes that Enchant is an underrated band.  They’ve paid their dues and should be included with names like Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard, Pain of Salvation, in the modern prog pantheon.

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Enchant’s song selection for the night was excellent, drawing on tracks that spanned their entire discography from A Blueprint of the World through The Great Divide, and everything in between.  They pulled out some of their best songs from their recent catalog, including “Transparent Man” from 2014’s The Great Divide and Sinking Sand” from 2003’s Tug of War.  For their die hard fans, they also pulled out some old favorites like “Oasis”  (that date back to their 1993 debut album).  One highlight of the evening was a rare performance of “Juggling Knives” from the album Juggling Nine or Dropping Ten.  According to lead singer Ted Leonard, this was the first ever time that song has been performed live.  Its hard to pick a single out a standout musician from a band as all-around talented as Enchant, but guitarist Doug Ott and bassist (and generally awesome dude) Ed Platt both had some stand-out feature spots.  We also have to give it to vocalist Ted Leonard, one of our favorite vocalists of all time, for being able to nail some of the highest notes in Enchant’s entire repertoire. Our only negative thing to say about Enchant is that they are overdue for new material.  But they assured us that a new album is on the way…before the next millennia (nine and a half centuries is plenty of time).

Headliners IQ ended the night with an exhilarating set. As the legendary 1993 album Ever is 25 this year, they played numerous tracks from that album, much to the enjoyment of a large percentage of audience members (for the record, Ever is being remastered this year by guitarist Mike Holmes). They opened with the spirited “The Darkest Hour” to thunderous applause. They did throw in some tracks from different albums, such as Road of Bones and Frequency, but Ever was the primary focus.

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IQ is one of modern prog’s most celebrated acts, and they proved tonight why that is the case. Peter Nicholls is a captivating front man, who sings with incredible expression, and the band was stellar. I was particularly impressed with keyboardist Neil Durant. IQ, like many prog bands, is very keyboard focused, and he provided just the right amount of wizardry and atmosphere.

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Late Night

One neat feature of Saturday’s Late Night event was that artist Paul Whitehead, known for his art on numerous historical prog albums such as Trespass and Pawn Hearts, painted a few pictures during the set.

The group that kicked off the late night event was Joe Deninzon. If you are not familiar with Joe, you really need to check this guy out. First of all, the guy has a custom 7 string, fretted violin. He plays spirited, fun music at breakneck speeds. Seeing him play was like eating candy- every time he played a solo, I couldn’t help but smile and cheer. He played a cover of Muse’s “Hysteria” that almost bordered on ska. He had an intimidatingly talented backup band as well. In a room full of a lot of musicians, it’s hard to impress, and I can confirm that everyone was blown away. His concert was a blast- one of the most impressive and fun events all weekend.

A particular highlight: Fernando Perdomo joined Joe’s band to lend some face melting guitar solos to Joe’s already spirited music.

Robeone was next. His set consisted of him improvising over a series of loops in a variety of styles. His performance had an impressive range, from rock to jazz, and he had an incredibly formidable keyboard rig as well that would have made Rick Waksman proud. I said to him before that the only thing he was lacking was a cape.

Fernando Perdomo closed the night with his Out to Sea band, a group that featured several of Fernando’s closest friends. Fernando’s Out to Sea album came out to much acclaim last year, and it was really fun to see and hear him play, as it always is. Paul Whitehead, who painted Fern’s album cover for Out to Sea, reproduced the cover during the concert. As Fern’s guest spot was a particular highlight from Joe’s set, Joe Deninzon’s guest spot in Fern’s set was also a highlight.

Everything finished up extremely late, so we headed home and tried to get some shut eye so we wouldn’t be completely zonked for Sunday- another mind blowing day of music.

Extra photos: (all non-iPhone photos are credited to Jared Everett)

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