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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A proggers 5th season - the fever's already begun

It looks like so many people have their 5th season. The people in the Cologne area have their carnival. They stop working and just hang out drinking. Drinking a LOT! In Munich we have the Oktoberfest. Since travelling the world became so affordable, it's mostly tourists who drink. Drink a LOT! Well what would you do if you travelled half the globe for attending the worlds biggest 'drug' fest.

Fortunately I can escape the Oktoberfest for a weekend for the europroggers 5th season. Not to far away from Cologne, in the Netherlands there's the little town Baarlo, and they've established the best music festival in the world, progpower europe. 3 days, 15 bands, and what will we do? We will drink. Drink a LOT! But hey, how would a progger drink? Right, not without hearing 3.743.712,07 notes a day, played live.
But not just that, a proguli meeting par exellence it will be, meeting cyberfloat, Jimmyjoint, gdcantell, and of course PL already ordered tickets and I hope more will come.
The big deal of the festival is that most of the audience and bands will stay at the same accommodation and many bands just do the same like us folks, enjoy the festival and see the others play. It's like a big family. There is no "you audience - we band". It just happens that you're chatting with some dudes, go for another beer and you can't find them anymore; the reason for this is mostly that these guys just prepare for stage and gonna play in 20 minutes. That's how you spend the afternoon and half of the night. After the headliners have played the party starts at the bar in the basement. That's where you meet the Threshold drummer, guitarist Marcel Coenen, etc. Once you have enough beer and go your way to the venue, another crowd happens to hang out, someone brings some beer from somewhere and you talk to Zero Hour among others before falling into bed. In the morning you even don't notice the hangover, at breakfast, Pathosray on the left and Cynic on the right of you, you prepare for the next massive note attack.
But definately all people you meet there are great guys. If regulars or just some who only come once, all are nice, friendly and helpful. There even are no doors locked at the accomodation, and people share rooms who have never met before. They say that there never was anything missing in the end of the festival (except a beer or two...).
And they seem to come from all the world, no matter if Australia, Korea, Paraguay, etc, no place in the world seems to be too far away.
Bummer, still 6 weeks to go...

Last year I intended to post my very personal impressions of the festival, but ended up being too busy to do it. I Promise I'll post them this year.

A very deep thank you goes out to Rene Janssen and his team for organizing the festival for the 11th time now, and to the nice and kind citizens of Baarlo for bearing the invasion of the black t-shirts so patiently. Be prepared!

A personal note for Jana:

I promised to provide you with a ride from/to Munich, as the car is going that way anyway. Would be a shame if you'd jump over to Munich from Australia and not head to the festival.
I'm leaving a second trace here, if I intended to do you any harm, I'd be traceable not only via the progpower team, but also through the google server.

Edit: If there's some space left I'll bring some Oktoberfest-beer!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

That is why I do this

Strange Land had a show last Friday at a place that shall remain nameless here. I am the diplomat of the band after all, not that you can't all go to the web and find out where it was. It was out first show at this venue and our first within about 70 miles of this place. I thought we made this clear to the venue. We're interested in expanding our territory and reaching new people. Details were sketchy about the show until a few days before. Then, it looked like we were on a bill with five other bands. The whole show started at 6, we were told to be there no later than 10. Ok... looks like we're last. No biggie, with 5 other bands there should be a decent number of people hanging around.

Ah, but it's never that easy. From 6-10 it was an all ages show. We were indeed last and the band that was supposed to be before us didn't show. I thought, fine, we'll go on around 10:30 then. Promptly at 10 all the under 21 people were booted out. The band on stage at the time finished their set with a pretty good crowd still there. But for some reason the venue made us wait until 11 to start. In that time almost everyone left while the cover band got started upstairs (don't even get me started on cover bands. I'll lose my diplomatic immunity). Since the band we we're booked with didn't show none of their people were there. So most of the night we had five people. We managed to snag a few others in passing from upstairs. Add to that, the sound guy was pulling double duty due to an emergency. He was running up and down the stairs doing sound on both stages. He loved us though. Sound guys seem to like us because we don't sound like every other band they have to sit through. At one point Brad's vocal mic behind the drum kit was feeding back and he just unplugged it. We didn't have Brad singing for most of the night. Such is the nature of live shows. Shit goes wrong and you either roll with it or you collapse.

All that said, this was one of the best shows we've had in a while. We played well. We had fun on stage. And the crowd that was there was engaged. I have so much fun when I can interact with people from the stage. We cracked jokes. I got everyone to introduce themselves. We laughed. I may take my music seriously, but I don't take myself seriously. It wasn't my show. It wasn't Strange Land's show. It was our show, band and audience together.

I've played a lot of shows for many different kinds of crowds. I'll take small and enthusiastic over large and indifferent any day. I'm they guy in the band who isn't gung ho to play out. I prefer writing and recording. But for shows like this I will always come out and I will enjoy playing on stage. All I need to do to be successful is reach one person. To make one person laugh. To know that one person understands what I'm trying to do. For one person to feel like I understand them because of a song we wrote. We got lucky, we reached more than one last week. And that is why I do this.

Special thanks to Progulites Iceman and Falcon for coming out. It's cool to meet hardcore prog fans and to put faces and real names to the chat board nicknames.