25 June 2009

NEARfest day two: a review in brief...

If waking up Saturday was rough, you don’t want to know how waking up Sunday was. Still, I made the decision this time to have a couple glasses of water first thing, and we stopped off at the Dunkin Donuts before heading down to the venue. That water, and the bottle of OJ, really made the difference, and I had no problems at all Sunday. The place was pretty empty, and the vending rooms were slow. We were excited to see the first two bands, and thus we made sure to get up to the theatre in time for the Sunday opener…

QUANTUM FANTAY, from Belgium. So much energy. So much personality. So much more space rock. These guys got a huge response from the sleepy NF crowd…so much so that they sold out of CDs and other merch. They bounded around the stage, wailed on guitar and bass, thrashed the drums, and coaxed swirly synth sounds from their instruments. I wish I had picked up their CD/DVD set, but there’s always mail order. Sunday opener slots have seen some of the most exciting surprising sets at NF…Hidria Spacefolk, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Guapo, and now these guys. Big things lie ahead for them I think.

BEARDFISH followed. I was really looking forward to them, and so was Sharon. Neither of us were disappointed. I love their vintage sound, with loads of great keyboard textures, excellent guitar, and above all, killer songwriting. They didn’t worry about the crowd, playing the ‘controversial’ “Roulette” and “The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer” as early as possible. Nothing like a healthy dose of bikers named Jesus and motherf*^&ers, eh? They played some stuff off the forthcoming album, whose release I now worry about with things getting as dicey as they are (SPV bankrupt, Beardfish and PoS pulled off the Prog Nation tour). I am glad I got to see them, and I hope to whoever is listening that they can be brought back over soon.


Lunch was bison burgers from the vendors outside. They were good. I was tired. The sun was out. We’d been hanging out with Ray and Tom from echolyn a bit, as one does at these festivals. We’d also been hanging out with the guys from Quantum Fantay a bit, and Rikard and the others from Beardfish, who as I said above were awesome. Time was growing short, so we headed in for the third band on day two…


TRETTIOARIGA KRIGET from Sweden. They’re a classic band…for a while, one of the few 1970’s Swedish bands you could find releases from. At their heaviest they are what Rush would sound like if they were a prog band. And yes, they played a healthy dose of the heavier stuff…and a lot of their quieter, more restrained pieces. I like them, and I liked their performance. I think they were the wrong band at the wrong time, really…they were too relaxed for a set late in the afternoon on the second day of the festival. I think DFA’s energy would have worked better here. And I know that people had a major issue with the falsetto vocals. Still, I liked them, and they deserved to be here.


Dinner break arrived, and I packed enough away to make sure I’d get through the final band. I had high hopes yet again, and I had a feeling they’d be met.


PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI did more than meet them. They exceeded them a thousand times over. One always worries when a classic band says they are gonna play a lot of newer material. Well, the songs from Stati di Imaginazione more than belonged in the set…they were every bit as vital as the classic material. And what a selection of classic material…’Dove…Quando,” “Impressioni di Settembre," “Out at the Roundabout.” I was waiting for “E’Festa,” and I was blown away…it take s a lot to get 1000 people at NEARfest out of their chairs, yet PFM achieved this. They got audience participation. I saw 1000 people dancing and jumping. I felt the walls shake. I heard them screaming on request. It was thrilling, and one of the best performances I have ever seen at NEARfest.


But this year’s NEARfest was about far more than the music. It was about meeting up with people I see once a year. It was about repaying the people who so graciously and generously allowed us into the inside, letting us become part of this breathing, living entity. It was about seeing the festival in a whole new light. If NEARfest 2009 was anything, it was a rebirth in so many different ways. I came out better than I went in. In the end, NEARfest 2009 will perhaps be the most memorable one for me.

3 comments:

firefly said...

Wow, I decided to take the time and read this whole post; since I'm more into rock-prog as I usually comment on those type bands - and I'm only 48 years old.
I don't see where you, Bill, find all the time to explore all the modern prog ... but I enjoyed reading this! Wow, what a long day it must've been (thank God for the OJ and water, right?).
Hey, I drink import beer and listen to the Flower Kings, and have seen them four times - that's about as close as I get to prog with all the other things and people and work in life there is to do!
Besides, I don't think I could last an entire day at a rock festival, either! Wait, maybe if the line-up was F/K, Rush, Yes and Genesis, Floyd, Moodies and Santana ... yawn ...
Gary

John said...

PFM's performance at NEARFest 2009 was one for the ages. I first saw PFM perform in 1974 in Denver at the historic Ebbets Field venue. A capacity of 250 was not sold out for the first show that evening, so we all stayed for the second show. They have come a long way since then and truly deserve a place at the table of prog super giants. It doesn't get any better than Franco Mussida - what an honor to watch and listen to him.

John said...

PFM's performance at NEARFest 2009 was one for the ages. Having first seen PFM at the Ebbets Field venue in Denver in 1974, I know they've come a long way and truly deserve a seat at the table of prog super legends. It doesn't get any better than Franco Mussida - what an honor to watch and listen to him perform. John Fasciani, Denver