Friday, June 27, 2008

Nearfest X

Just a rundown of the 10th occurrence of Nearfest (North East Art Rock Festival), which I attended last weekend.

Please note: The following are my opinions alone and are not here for anyone's approval. Disagreements or arrogant criticism by any "prog snobs" named "anonymous" will not be posted.


Larry Fast - I like Larry and his Synergy, and I found his set to be interesting only because of the visuals and especially because of his short lectures on the history of his equipment and how he creates what he does and why he could not perform live until recently. Otherwise, as a live show, it would have been less than spectacular. I did note that it would have been amazing "under the influence of a fantastic amount of trendy chemical amusement aid." ;-)

Fish - Other than having heard of him, and knowing that he used to be in Marillion, I knew little about Fish. I have yet to check out Marillion, and while I do have Bouillabaisse, I only listened to it a couple of times a long time ago. So basically this was new to me. I thought it was an awesome set. The music was strong and tight, and while Fish’s voice is strained a la Ian Anderson, he more than made up for it with his powerful stage presence.

All in all a great start to the weekend.


Koenji Hyakkei - A great start to Saturday. I loved the music...a very tight sort of jazz-fusion. I could have done without the sax and noise vocals (I’ll call this the RIO aspect...I’m not a fan of RIO), but the vocalist had a beautiful voice when she sang "normally", and like I said, the music was top-notch. I really enjoyed their set overall, but I wouldn’t buy their music and listen to it.

Discipline - Like Fish, I had no idea about this group. In fact, until Matthew Parmenter did a solo spotlight, I didn’t even know they existed. This was the first performance that *really* grabbed me, meaning that I knew that I need to check these guys out further. At the urging of Adam Perkowsky (he offered to finance the purchase), I picked up Unfolded Like Staircase, and it is my new favorite album (I paid for it myself btw). Great set from a great band. They gained a new fan for sure.

Peter Hamill - After hearing one song, I stayed for the whole thing just to take pictures. This should have been a 30 minute solo spotlight (had there been SS this year), not a 100 minute set.

Liquid Tension Experiment - A fantastic finish to a mostly fantastic day. I have had their two albums (Spontaneous Combustion doesn’t really count) since they came out and have always liked these guys. They are the band I was most familiar with all weekend. They did not disappoint. They were loud, tight, heavy, energetic, and highly entertaining. I commented to my festival mates (Mike Montfort and Scott Montgomery) that Mike Portnoy a) made playing the drums look easy, and b) looked like he was having a blast doing it.


Mörglbl - The Sunday prog church slot did not disappoint. This high energy band was a lot of fun and highly entertaining. Christophe Godin and Ivan Rougny are quite the animated showmen, which made getting interesting photos easy. Oh, and the music was pretty good too. :-)

Radio Massacre International - This music would have been perfect if I had been on my couch or easy chair, or even a hammock on a breezy summer day, but watching guys tinker with knobs doesn’t make for the most ideal live visual. From an audio standpoint, I liked it, and I did like it better when they played full band stuff and also when they had Cyndee Lee Rule and Premik Russell Tubbs out on stage with them. The best part of the show was the very last song (full band with a great guitar solo). If the entire set had been like that, I would have enjoyed it much more.

Echolyn - The only album of theirs that I have and have heard is As The World. I remember liking it somewhat, but not enough to keep me hooked. They put on a great show, and I really liked the music, but it didn’t wow me like Discipline did. It was enjoyable enough to check them out further, but the jury is still out for me.

Banco - Again, was not familiar with this band at all. After Fish on Friday, we were thinking that LTE would have to really shine to top that. They did, and then we thought that Banco had a lot of pressure to top LTE. They certainly did. This really is an amazing band, and I felt this was easily the strongest closer of any Nearfest that I personally have been to (been going since 2004). A very powerful performance by a great band. A very apropos way to end this chapter of Nearfest.

Not too much in the way of purchases this year:

- NF program
- Official NF gray T-shirt
- Two NF pint glasses (one for Val)

- Pure Reason Revolution - Live At Nearfest 2007
- Discipline - Unfolded Like Staircase
- Mörglbl - Grötesk
- Fireballet - Promo Sampler and T-shirt (both free)
- Progday Encore? box set ($20 for 7 CDs is a no brainer)
- Echolyn - Mei ($0.99 MP3 from Amazon)
- Echolyn - The End Is Beautiful ($6.99 as above)

The galleries of photos I took can be seen by clicking the slideshows above, or by going here:

Three years, two months, two weeks, 18 hours smober.
46871 cigarettes not smoked, saving $12,303.68.
Life saved: 23 weeks, 1 day.

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