ProgPower XIV – A Quick Review by Erika War
I was lucky enough to attend ProgPower USA 14 this last weekend. I am telling you right now, if you are on the fence about going next year, get the hell off the fence and GO! I had the best weekend of my life so far and I cannot wait to go back next year!
First, a word about how ProgPower is run. I have never been to any event, whether it was a metal concert, a science fiction convention, an Ultrasound convention, etc, that was as well run as ProgPower. Everything ran so smoothly and on time. They had it set up where each act had an hour to play. Then there would be a half hour break, where you could get autographs and meet bands while you were waiting for the next act. This way you did not have to miss any performances just to meet other bands. So smart and so appreciated, because this is where I set up at least 50% of my upcoming interviews.
Another thing that impressed the hell out of me was that they did not charge for water. This may seem like a small thing, but when you go to concerts and have to pay $4 for a bottle of water, it adds up. Anytime you went to the bar they gave you a big glass of water from the soda shooter, filled with ice. I must’ve gone back 10 times. They were not trying to gouge you. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.
They also had food available if you didn’t want to leave the venue. They would order for you from the local pizza place, Davinci’s. Also they brought in pizzas and you could just get a slice right there. And again it was reasonable, $3 per slice. And being from NY I am a pizza snob, but I have to admit this was the best pizza I’ve had outside of NY. Again, the little things.
Now for the bands. The line-up was as follows:
Damnation Angels – UK
Myrath – Tunisia
Xandria – Germany
Wolverine – Sweden
Ashes of Ares (Matt Barlow’s new band) – USA
Soilwork (co-headliner) – Sweden
Shadow Gallery (co-headliner) – USA
Divinity Compromised – USA
Heaven’s Cry – Canada
Wolf – Sweden
Circus Maximus (co-headliner) – Norway
Armored Saint (co-headliner) – USA
Sabaton (co-headliner) – Sweden
I surveyed a large number of people Sunday morning to see who was the favorite act of the weekend. All but one person said Myrath. Myrath stole the show. They went through hell and high water to make it. They hadn’t even gotten their airline tickets 3 days before the show. According to Lance King, head of Myrath’s label, Nigtmare Records, they had to spend an inordinate amount of money on the airfare alone. Guitarist Malek Ben Arbia’s guitar was missing; luckily he was able to borrow one. And bassist Anis Jouini’s luggage was also lost, and he had to make due with the clothes on his back. They all had to take separate planes and some members stepped off the plane a half-hour before they came on stage! Yet they managed to put on a show of a lifetime. They blew the entire audience away. Myrath was the main reason I came to ProgPower, this being their first and only (so far) U.S. appearance. Absolutely worth it alone, even if you don’t count all the amazing bands!
I will be doing interviews and write ups of the individual bands that were there. Founder and headman of PP Glenn Harveston has, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the BEST taste in music of anyone I’ve ever known, and really knows how to pick bands. From the very first act Friday morning, Damnation Angels, I was in heaven. And from what I saw and the people I talked to, so was everybody else. Glenn even signed on Matt Barlow’s new band, Ashes of Ares, before their album even started streaming. Glenn has the knack, because what a performance. The audience went wild.
For me personally, the band that almost killed me of a heart attack from happiness, was Armored Saint. John Bush has the energy of a 20 year old. Not only that, I agree with what everybody else was saying, he still has the voice and the power of a 20 year old. And when there were some technical difficulties with guitarist Phil Sandoval’s amp, the crew took care of it so quickly and efficiently I barely realized there had been a problem. Again, a testament to how well ProgPower is run. The Armored Saint performance left me speechless, except to say I believe I touched god and became one with the universe during their show.
Armored Saint was a tough act to follow, but Sabaton was up to the challenge. What energy, what a performance. But the main thing is, every band this year gave it their all, and gave spectacular performances that they all should be very proud of. And not only that, each band was as kind and friendly as can be to every single person there. No egos anywhere. They showed their appreciation to each and every fan, making one feel like an old friend stopping by to say hello.
Over all ProgPower was an experience of a lifetime, and I highly recommend making the trip. Worth every penny. And rumor has it that next years might be the last one, which is devastating to me, but maybe if we break all attendance levels next year we could look forward to many more to come.
Please keep an eye on this page for many interviews and reviews to come, and check out each and everyone of these amazing bands. I promise you, you will NOT be disappointed!