NEAR Fest--Prog-Rock is NOT DEAD!
California Guitar Trio w/ Tony Levin: WOW again! 3 former students of Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft Seminars team up with my favorite tall bald camera wielding bassist/Stick maestro to do a show that was musically very full and substantial and HILARIUOUS as all get out too!! Particular highlights included melding a Japanese folk song with "21st Century Schizoid Man", a rousing rendition of Yes's "Heart of the Sunrise" which precipitated an audience singalong, "Dance of the Maya" by Mahavishnu Orchestra (with some cool bluesy slide guitar), KC's "Discipline" a number or intricate original pieces, lots of hilarious dance steps, an amazing treatment of segments from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" with another audience singalong!! This was great fun! Bravo!!
After Crying: I lasted about two songs here, for me, it was a lot of relentless pomp with no let up at all, add to this, cheesy 80's synth sounds (GACK!!). Here, I really felt like I was being smacked over the head. Such a shame, these guys are actually excellent musicians, incorporating Bartok, ELP and chamber music into their palette, but just take themselves WAY too seriously. The lack of contrast and variety in the music definitely sent me looking for some quiet!
Banco: NOW THAT'S ITALIAN! In short, they tore the roof off the joint!! Combining classical, fusion, funkiness and Italian operatics in just the right doses, this was a great way to end!! Unfortunately, I don't have the familiararity with their repetoire that some folks do, but suffice it to say, I loved what I heard. Francesco DiGiacomo is a really fun and very inviting frontman too, and what a voice!! Great playing by everybody! I was floored!! The audience was very moved indeed, and I personally was left with the conviction that indeed the recod companies have it all WRONG about us prog loving folk.