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Avian
07-01-2003, 01:48 PM
Hey gang - how was NEARFest 2003?

Avian

progdirjim
07-02-2003, 01:02 AM
Guess I'll go first.

Opening act - High Wheel - play kind of a heavier rock/prog than I typically like, but I found enough things in their music to like. The parts of the songs that featured keys more especially, but I liked some of the drummer's fills, and the singer/guitarist had some fine moments. My favoite band to hang out with, as my brother and I got fairly drunk Saturday night with Erich the bass player - nice guy.

Alamaailman Vassarat - very interesting band. Drums, 2 cellists, trombone, sax and I think keys. I've never heard a fuzz-cello before, but it somehow worked. The trombone player was jamming all over the stage (rocking trombone - how often do you say that?), and the sax player was fairly humorous. My brother and I decided that he was making up the English "translations" to the Finnish titles - judging by the band's reactions. "Big Black Spiders" and "We Would Have Swimmed (sic) Further" were 2 that I recall. Very unique and enjoyable.

Tunnels - Cool fusion, midi-vibes, and Percy Jones on bass - how bad could it be? They were actually very good, though I wish John Goodsall would have been featured more - not that he was needed as much as I enjoyed his guitar work. Percy's bass work was quite nice, though not in the top two of the day - more on that later. The midi-vibes are a cool instrument - Marc was getting some pretty cool sounds out of it, but the most impressive to me was the fairly credible latin percussion solo he did on the midi-vibe, complete with different conga voicings, timbales, cowbells, and cymbals. I don't think I'm explaining it well, you had to be there...

Flower Kings - wow. Here's a band I liked, but after seeing them realized that I had never really appreciated them. Great songs, great playing, great presence. Jonas Reingold on bass - very impressive - better than Percy on this day, and that's saying a lot. So many different sounds - it seemed like every one in the band played at least two completely different instruments, so the instrumentation was never stale. They played mostly longer songs, I particularly enjoyed "Stardust We Are" I think they could have easily been a headliner, not that either of the headliners was lacking.

Magma - was transcendental. The vocals might have been the most impressive parts of the band, but Christian Vander is a pretty cool drummer, James MacGaw on guitar was far better than I'd ever noticed before, and Philippe Bussonnet on bass - good lord. Two fine keyboardist filled out the mix. Fantastic arrangements. Perhaps the most amazing part was the encore when Christian came out from behind the drums to sing - one of the singers took his place and did a pretty fair job (I hate it when the second best drummer in a band is better than me!), but the "duet" of Christian singing, trading licks with the guitar player blew me away. I don't know which was more impressive - Christian's screams imitating the guitar, or the other way around.

Day 2
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Umm, did anyone LIKE them? Sure, they were original and creative - costumed, made-up and god knows what else. The drummer played the entire set wearing a donkey head. Homemade instruments, industrial percussion, screeching violin. At first I thought they were trying too hard to be hip, avant-garde, and different; then I realized that the entire crew was certifiable. They certainly weren't boring.

Glass Hammer - I have to bitch about how late they ran. However, they played a fine set - I thought the sound was great, the performances as good as expected (listening to their albums will let you know the expectation was high), and as a bonus the 3 vocalists were probably the most attractive women I saw all weekend (my wife stayed home in San Diego) Somehow lacking a defining passion, but an expertly played, tight set of fine symphonic progressive.

Kraan - pleasant surprise of the weekend for me - fairly simple song structures (primarily but not totally instrumental), evolving into long jams - nothing stellar, but quite enjoyable. At times reminded me of Passport without horns, and at times a pop sound creeped in that I actually enjoyed. I bought two of their CDs which we'll be adding to the station.

Anglagard - I missed them and don't want to talk about it. I would sure welcome any posts about the performance though.

Camel - I really enjoyed them, mainly because the band played well, the song selection was great, and I have listened to the band for so long without ever seeing them. That being said, I wasn't blown away. Andy Latimer seems like a truly nice person, and was personable on stage. Tom Brislin on keys did a great job (and was anyone else sitting close enough to see how BIG his friggin' hands are?!). Denis the drummer was good, and Colin Bass on bass was fine. I liked that they played (I think) 3 from the first album, 2 from Mirage, 2 from Moonmadness, a nice excerpt from Snow Goose, the 2 best songs from I Can See Your House From Here, and fewer selections from the later albums. People can talk them up all they want, but nothing after Snow Goose compares with anything up to and including SG.

A few listeners talked to me and said nice things about the station - that was appreciated. And I guess that's it - other thoughts?

KeithieW
07-02-2003, 02:27 AM
Originally posted by progdirjim
And I guess that's it - other thoughts?

Yeah!!!!

I wish I was there!!!!!

Rick and Roll
07-03-2003, 10:23 PM
High Wheel - a perfect Nearfest opener - very harmless and pleasant rock - reminded me of North Star a few years back.

The Finns - got very plastered Sat PM, and did human pyramids at the hotel - and their music reflects that fun. I'm not a fan of their melody, but they were not boring. Even better than their Trombonist was Woodenhead on Friday night. Three trombones on the last five tunes - with a killer lead trombonist.

Tunnels - very disappointing. I've seen and enjoyed them at very small venues. As was the case with Enchant last year, they did not translate well. They were very under-amplified. Wagnon was unhearable in parts, and I was five rows back in the center. Don't get me started on Goodsall. He is not featured by design. He has deteriorated into substance abuse, and this is the third straight disappointment by him. Percy deserves better than that show.

Flower Kings - I was apprehensive at first - I saw them at a very small bar last year, and was blown away. They did not have the extra vocalist/etc. and the extra percussionist (the great Hasse Bruinsson), so each one played the same instrument. No problem. At Nearfest, with six members, in a large hall - still fantastic!!! Stardust We Are is my favorite song by them - totally unexpected, and made me incredibly happy. By the way, at the bar Tuesday in VA, the played Humannizano from the Flower King - whoa!

Magma - love the drummer - I don't mind the vocals - but they are incredibly repetitive. I could only stand the first 45 minutes (or one song). Day 2 in a minute.

Rick and Roll
07-03-2003, 10:47 PM
Sleepytime - yes, I did like them. I would never buy their music, but let's review the facts. A great wake-up choice on Sunday AM (did we forget the abysmal Underground Railroad)? Very professional and well-thought out and a great effort. The homemade percussion and the bass player's other instruments were great. I think the crowd dug it. Do NOT explain it to a child.

Glass Hammer - what a bunch of posers. I saw them in 1995, and while the drummer turned guitarist has improved, come on! They had an 18-person chorus, for nothing! They delayed the entire day by an hour (setup and breakdown). The bass player can't sing, and after the first 20-minutes of decent music, the selections were horrible. I an really pissed at Rich Williams of Kansas, who with his blistering guitar work on "Portrait" (what a treat!), woke me up from a great nap.

Kraan - I had forgotten what they sounded like years ago - college will do that to you - they were GREAT. Helmut Hattler is a very good bassist. For old farts, they rocked. A lot of people half their age should take notice. A real enjoyable set.

Anglagard - I like their studio stuff. BUT - A typical song - three minutes of a depressing piano lick, six minutes of boring non-melody, and four minutes of industrial noise. What a major bore! And the coup de grace - two encores, when the Flower Kings weren't allowed to play one (after the audience had a near-riot)? Please, where's the justice? Jim, you didn't miss a damn thing, and I don't want to talk about it.

Camel - due the prior band and Glass Hammer, they didn't hit the stage until late - hey Rob DeLuca, how about only 4 bands on Sunday next year? People have lives, you know. I knew most of their stuff, but was never a rabid fan, and was skeptical because of only Latimer still in the band - but they kicked ass. Yes, the keyboardist has big fingers - and it helps that he had the keyboard tilted down. He's the guy who did such a great job with Yes 2 years ago.

I liked this incarnation of Nearfest better than last year's - and Miriodor on Friday was excellent. I missed IZZ, but they did play acoustic on Saturday at the hotel and we all had a lot of fun.

I would have said hi Jim, but I didn't recognize you. It turns out I was sitting three seats from Sean McFee and didn't know it either.