rowyn: (smile)
We got to watch Sabaton's members stretching after the lights went down and they piped "The Final Countdown" out to the audience. The crowd was going wild waiting for the band to come on, but we could see them in a little stairwell waiting, so knew it was still gonna be a bit.

They opened with "Ghost Division", a song I actually recognized! We listened to it from the VIP lounge, and then went back into the theater proper to hear the next, because the sound backstage wasn't great. At the end of the second song we took station before the stage, towards the right side near one of the guitarists, Chris Rörland.

Sabaton was awesome, and I use that in the sense of "I was awed by them". They were worth the price of admission by themselves. The music was fantastic and they were all terrific performers. Not only the lead singer but the guitarists roamed the full stage (though they returned regularly to the same mike stands). They made eye contact with the audience and had expressive faces, smiling, pantomining to the music, clowning between songs. They were constantly in motion, dancing, bouncing, pumping fists. Joakim Brodén, the lead singer, was in great condition, and watching him perform one could almost imagine that his regular concert performance was enough of a workout by itself to maintain that shape.

And they sounded incredible, powerful, fully engaged, infectiously energetic. I danced, whooped, screamed, fist-pumped and made the ProgPower-horns sign throughout the entire set.

This resulted in one particularly humorous moment. Towards the end of the show, I was making the horns sign with one hand (index and pinky raised, thumb holding down middle two fingers) and pumping my arm towards the singer. This meant folding my arm back until my hand was level with my ear and then throwing my hand forward, pinky and index out. At one point, as I was drawing my hand forward, my index finger snagged the arm of my glasses. Before I had time to realized what had happened, I finished the motion and incidentally flung my glasses thirty feet onto the stage, to land just before the drumset.


Chris Rörland, guitarist and MY HERO. Yes, that's my glasses in his hands, and my arms outstretched to get them back.I stood there, blinking, watching guitarists run back and forth across the stage, and hoping none of them stepped on my glasses. When the current song finished, I gestured frantically to Chris Rörland, who was only ten feet or so away from me. I caught his attention (did I mention they were good about making eye contact? They were), pantomined glasses, and pointed. Miraculously, he figured out what had happened, ran over, fetched my glasses, and brought them back to me.

They were the only band who, when they finished, no part of me was thinking "that's okay because I'm ready for a break now anyway". I was all "I could totally dance through another album or two! I'm good! PRIMO VICTORIA!"

On our way backstage to see the band, one of the other concert-attendees gave me a thumbs-up -- not for flinging my glasses at the stage, but for my Schlock Mercenary t-shirt. :D

The band was a blast backstage too. I got a hug from Rörland, who immediately recognized me as 'that woman dancing in the front row who threw her glasses on the stage.'
D'awww. We didn't know Alinsa was taking pictures
Me: "So, has anyone ever thrown glasses on the stage before?"
Rörland: "No, that was a first. We throw sunglasses off the stage every show, but they've never come to us before."

At one point, someone called for the band to "get up against the wall!" for pictures. Joakim Brodén was the first to comply, and he stood spread-eagled for a pat-down, looking back over his shoulder with a "this is what you meant, right?" expression. Most of the band joined him in the same pose before they switched to more standard poses. Then like half of the VIPs snuck in one by one to get pics with the band, including me.

I went around collecting signatures on the Sabaton liner notes for John. One of the other attendees asked Brodén to sign the set list. "Can you write "Marie, we love you"? on it?" he asked.

"Sure." Brodén put the set list on his knee and started writing. "Marie, we love you. But NEVER MISS another Sabaton show again." And passed it around for the rest of the band to sign.

Finally, we wandered off back to the hotel.

The people from Sabaton, like pretty much all the band members we had interacted with, were really friendly and agreeable. I don't know what it takes to still be happy after the 10,000th fan asks for a signature or picture with you, but these guys have it. I'm sure it helped in our case that there were only a fifteen or twenty respectful fans and not a screaming, pressing mob of us, but even so. I would totally have understood if I'd run into one of them who was stressed/tired/did not want to deal with people and so blew us off, but that never happened. It was a uniformly enjoyable experience. Very happy I went, and for me having Sabaton be the closing act was perfect, because nothing else was going to match up to their performance. n_n

Also -- look, [ profile] howardtayler, I was advertising your webcomic! I brought the "Pillage first" t-shirt too, but I think I wore it Wednesday night and didn't get any pictures.

Dramatic reenactment of getting my glasses back

Back at the hotel, we went to the courtyard party and distributed the cupcakes from Truly Great Cupcakes that Alinsa had ordered, and the two free drink coupons the hotel had given us for mixing up our room earlier. I gave one drink coupon to Jarek and the other to Dennis, and then collected signatures on the In the Silence CD liners. Amusingly, every previous time I saw Dennis signing something, Jarek would make fun of him for including a note: "What are you writing, a book?" But on my CD liner, Dennis only signed it while Jarek left a note. :D

Dennis had mentioned earlier that "I am dead tired and wasn't going to come tonight, but then Mike caught me and said 'I've got Kraken rum, see you tonight!' and before I realized what I'd done I'd agreed." Dennis invited us up to the room party later. We'd made the circuit of the courtyard, dispensing cupcakes while Alinsa looked around for Su (in order to deliver the chocolates) but couldn't find her. So we went up to the room party, and after a little bit: Su! I was sitting at the table in the room when Alinsa went out into the hall to see Su. An ear-piercing squeal of glee followed moments thereafter. "Ah, Alinsa finally got the chocolates to Su."

We hung about the room for a while, then the party decided en masse to go back to the courtyard. "We'll bring the rum!" Dennis danced down the stairwell, singing "Pure Imagination" from the Gene Wilder "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" film.

In the courtyard, I put my tiny hat on Dennis's head for no good reason, and Alinsa got a surprisingly good picture of him in it:

The last photo

Dennis gave us his card and insisted on getting our email addresses. ♥

We went to bed shortly afterwards, but I will close with one little event from Sunday, after the show:

While we were at the airport, we saw the lead singer from Xandria also in line for security. She gave us a look as if we were familiar, which surprised me because we'd watched their set from way back in the theater, and had not gone backstage to meet the band afterwards. I said hi and told her we'd liked her show, and she said, "Thanks! I recognized your 'In the Silence' t-shirt." :)
rowyn: (Me 2012)
Shadow Gallery opened by playing a recorded "Bohemian Rhapsody". All the VIP badge holders packed in front of the barrier -- whether you sponsored a particular band or not, if you get a VIP badge you can stand before the barrier for the first two songs. We didn't try to crowd there with them, given how tight-packed it was. So we stood before front-row seats to one side to watch the first songs. Koogrr arrived at the hotel during the middle of the second Shadow Gallery song: we texted him to crash in the room, since he'd been tired before he started the drive, while we stayed for the rest of the show.

Once the second song finished, the mob left the area in front of the barrier and we went in. At that point, there was lots of space for me to stretch out and dance like mad to every song. Which I did.
Would you trust this man?
Shadow Gallery was magnificent. They sounded great and I am looking forward to listening to more of their stuff. It had been 15 years since their first album, "Tyranny", and they performed several songs from it. The lead singer said at one point, "So we're celebrating fifteen years of "Tyranny"!" and the audience cheered wildly. I started to cheer with them, then stopped because -- 'wait, what? That just sounds wrong.' :D It's a story album, with one of the protagonists being a former corporate man turned hacker when he realizes his corporation is actively evil. The band had flown in D. C. Cooper to sing the corporation part of the songs, who came out in suit and tie, looking snazzy and projecting an aura of menace. Very effective, very fun.

During their encore, they played a new unreleased song, "Dust" (I think). Alinsa had the camera out and was photographing the guitarists during the song's bridge, and I was dancing madly, when the singer started again. We looked for him onstage and didn't see him. Then I looked to my side and he was like two feet away from me, in the pit with us! So I got to dance with him after a fashion, and Alinsa got pictures of him singing straight at the camera. He made a point of clasping hands with the people reaching out to him over the barrier. It was a wonderful moment.

Brian Ashland serenading Alinsa

After they finished their encore with "Crystalline Dream", we went backstage to meet the band once they decompressed. Two of the charming guitarists invited everyone into the (spacious) dressing room. I wanted to compliment the drummer on his drum solo, which was really something to watch -- he was, among other things, playing the drumset cage and pounding drums and cymbals with his fists, at various points. Sounded great and was spectacular to see. The drummer slipped away early, though, to go pack up. "We're poor," the lead singer explained to us, "so we don't have a crew." They've been mostly a studio band, and didn't tour much, although the singer, Brian Ashland, was trying to change that. He was relatively new to the band -- they've been around since 1991 but their original vocalist passed away in 2008, and Brian Ashland joined after that. He was very approachable, turning to smile at us when we approached and happy to pose for pictures.
Me giving Ashland my best worshipful look
Alinsa was particularly amused when one of the guitarists, Carl-Cadden James, was encouraging a VIP badgeholder to go on into the dressing room while we were leaving. "Go ahead, make yourself at home."

Badgeholder: "I don't want to intrude ... "

"Dude, it's cool."

"But I know there's a lot of us ... "

"DUDE. GO IN. HAVE A BEER." There was a cooler full of beers just inside the door.

Alinsa, laughing: "I've never heard the band pressure someone to go into the dressing room before."

Carl-Cadden James: "I mean, fine, you don't have to."

I got a picture with James, too, because he was so friendly, and he'd been great fun to watch onstage, full of energy and smiling like he was having the time of his life.

Eventually we left to return to the hotel room. We woke John up coming in, and talked with him until 3AM or so. We didn't make it out to the courtyard party that night because we were all pretty wiped out, not to mention had plenty enough to talk about amongst ourselves.

Saturday, the three of us slept through (or at least lazed in bed through) the hotel breakfast, so we went out for a late brunch, finally hitting a restaurant around quarter to one. We got back to the theater partway through Divinity Compromised's set, watched the rest of it, then wandered the dealer's room until the next act went on. We bought various swag, including two copies of In the Silence's "A Fair Dream Gone Mad", ProgPower banners for 2012 & 2013 (the only years they've done them thus far), and more music from Jose's table, which turned out to have the best selection of Sabaton out of all the dealers. We wanted to get a Sabaton album for John since he wouldn't be able to stay late enough to see them perform.

Alinsa found Sue at the ProgPower t-shirt table and arranged for her to fetch a bag of her "drunken gummies" (gummi bears soaked in vodka for several weeks) to exchange for chocolates Alinsa had brought.

We went back into the theater when Heaven's Cry started their set. They were not bad (I didn't hear any bands this weekend that I thought were bad), but I was not too into them and neither was John, so we left to get a chance to talk some more. We came back in time for Wolf, which is another act that I can't tell you anything about except I thought they sounded good.

After Wolf was done, we sat in the lobby for a bit. I spotted Dennis and snagged him. "Come here, I want you to meet my friend!"

"Sure, just let me do this one thing." Dennis finished up something-or-other and I got to introduce him to John. He hung around with us for a few minutes chatting, then said "Hey, have you gotten a t-shirt yet? Would you like one? I'll trade you one for, say, a Red Bull and a gin and tonic? We really don't want to have to cart this back and I'm dying for a drink." Thus I got an In The Silence t-shirt, which I'd been tempted to get anyway, despite my existing surfeit of t-shirts. :D (I had already made my saving throw vs ProgPower t-shirt multiple times).

Circus Maximus was the next act, and my second-favorite for Saturday. I enjoyed their set and should give more of their work a listen at some point. They were John's last act of the day -- he had to be back at work in Savannah at 6AM Sunday, gah), so we all took a break to go back to the hotel and say goodbye. I took the liner notes for the In the Silence and Sabaton albums that he'd gotten, so I could try to get them signed for him.

Alinsa and I crashed briefly after John left, but we didn't have enough time to get much of a nap before heading back to the theater to pick up barrier passes for Sabaton. (The VIP passes get us into the show and in front of the barrier for two songs, but for the band you sponsor, you need to see Glenn at the end of the set for the previous band so he can give you a pass good for the whole set of the one you're sponsoring.)
Does Coca-Cola know about this?

Armored Saint was running a little late, so we caught the last couple songs for them, then got our barrier passes (little badges that say "BTFO"), then trundled up to the VIP lounge to watch from there. The VIP lounge overlooks the stage from the side, so gives a good view of the set up. The VIP bar had a giant Coca-Cola cooler, which made me do a double-take. I walked over to look inside, and yes, they were selling Pepsi out of their Coca-Cola cooler. I made Alinsa get pictures, which cracked the bartender up.
rowyn: (smile)
We got up early for breakfast, went back to sleep, got up for orientation, went back to sleep, then got up for the 2PM show. We met Alinsa's friends Nikita and Elizabeth in the hotel lobby, so were a little late for Damnation Angels. And then a little later still because we ran into Dennis outside the theater and stopped to chat ("Guys! Good to see you!" *hugs us both*)

Damnation Angels drew an impressive crowd for the hour -- the theater looked more crowded for them than it had been for Rhapsody, the previous night's headliner. Centerstage, where the festival is held, is a small theater with stadium seating and a spacious floor area. The floor is often packed while there are still plenty of empty seats, as the people who want to be nearer to the band, or stand and bounce through the show (it's too packed for much in the way of dancing) will go down to the floor.

Damnation Angels sounded pretty good, but I do not remember any details beyond "liked it". I started writing this during the next band, Myrath, as my ability to focus on new music waned. We stayed through Xandria (estrogen! That band has a female lead singer, and was the first person not male to perform thus far) then took a break. I was wearing a fashion corset** for the corset picture that was taken after Xandria's set. (I think the purpose of this shoot is to show that there are, in fact, women at the show. The attendees are not quite as overwhelmingly white & male as the acts, but I'd estimate 80-90% men and 95-99% white.) Then we went with Elizabeth and Nikita to get food. We walk up a block -- none of us particularly wanted to go far -- and they got subs while I got a lasagna from the pizza/italian place next door. We chatted for a bit, then parted ways: they wanted to get back in time to catch Ashes of Ares. We'd already missed Wolverine.
** Meaning "has plastic boning that is totally not up to the task of supporting my chest so I need to wear it over a shirt & bra"

Alinsa and I headed back to the hotel for various errands. Now that the shoot was over, I wanted to take off the corset. Also, [ profile] koogrr was going to be driving in from a job site in Savannah, Georgia, and I wanted the hotel to know to give him a key, in case he couldn't reach us when he arrived for some reason. In addition, we had some leftovers from dinner to drop off, and I wanted to adjust my earplugs. Alinsa had bought me fancy musician's earplugs. This doesn't just make the rock-concert music less loud, but actually gets rid of much of the distorted quality that the high-volume imparts. I'd noticed that the singers still had that too-loud-distorted quality, though, so I wanted to adjust the earplugs to give more dampening and see if that helped. It even did, so that was pretty neat.

Once in the room, the bed called to me, so I lay down for a couple of hours. I slept through Ashes of Ares, but got back to the theater in time to catch part of Soilwork, the second-to-last act of the day. They had the instruments cranked up to 11 and the singer was barely audible over it. Which sounded all right (I haven't been able to understand any singer the entire show so far anyway) but I did end up working on this some more during that, so flagging a bit.

After Soilwork, Glenn, the ProgPower USA organizer, spoke for a few minutes. "Before I get on to the previews for next year's ProgPower, I want to say that we just had the nicest mosh pit ever here. They were down here moshing, and one guy lost his glasses. The whole group stopped moshing, got out a flashlight, found the guy's glasses, got them back to him, and then went back to slamming the shit out of each other."

Next Year's ProgPower will have Jon Olivia's Pain as one of the headliners. Jon Olivia was the lead singer for Savatage before Zak Stevens, and his group will be playing all of "Streets" next year, which should make for a great show -- "Streets" is a story album, and I think those are particularly fun played live and in full.

During the break, we picked up a bottle of water and Diet Pepsi from the VIP bar. As we were walking back to our seats, I looked at my cup of Diet Pepsi. "I'm in Atlanta. How is it I can even get a Pepsi here, never mind have to?"
rowyn: (studious)
Circle II Circle was up next. They have the same lead singer Savatage had for several years, Zak Stevens. They did one Savatage song, "Edge of Thorns". That's one of two songs I heard Thursday night that I had heard before. I enjoyed Circle II Circle but was having a hard time distinguishing one song from the next by the time they finished. They had one guitarist in particular who was strikingly good-looking: well-muscled, tan skin, long straight dark hair. Alinsa was taking pictures with a $3000 camera borrowed from a friend for the show, and put it away halfway through their set. Then I nudged Alinsa and pointed: the hot guitarist had taken off his tanktop. So Alinsa got the camera back out. XD

We stalked the Circle II Circle band backstage after their set, because Alinsa was encouraging me to get a picture with Bill Hudson, the handsome guitarist. I got a picture with Zak Stevens too, which was even cooler in a way -- someone whose work I already knew, independently of this event. I was not sure of the etiquette involved in "getting photograph with band member", so I wanted to ask before I touched him. For reasons hard to explain, I phrased it as: "Is it okay if I grope you?"

Zak Stevens put his arm around my shoulders, looking at the camera. "Sure. Wait, what? Grope me?"

I only put my hand on his waist, promise.

Me with Zak Stevens. Doesn't he looks like a nice person?

I got a picture with Bill Hudson, too, and then we went back into the theater for Rhapsody.

Rhapsody, alas, kind of blurred together into a wall of sound for me. I did like the pacing on their set, with segues between pieces instead of breakpoints, and some video interludes. I only know two Rhapsody songs but they played one of them, so that was fun for me. We were watching them from in front of the barrier, after spending Circle II Circle's set seated in the tiers by way of getting some rest before the headliner. By chance, Alinsa had picked the correct side of the stage to stand on -- we were right in front of Mikko's keyboard, and one of the stage speakers had been pushed and angled for Mikko's use so it wasn't blocking the view the way the other stage speakers did. During the set, Turilli would come to the edge of the stage right in front of us, playing his guitar. I danced for almost the entire set, aside from a couple of times when the band was offstage for a video interlude. Then I sat down on the benches in front of the barrier, to the shock of the security guard. "She has a VIP pass! She's not supposed to want to sit down." It was a good performance, that I would've enjoyed more if I'd actually been familiar with their work. Possibly also if I'd been more alert.

I had thought of asking Mikko for a picture earlier but was too shy to ask at dinner, so we stalked backstage after Rhapsody's set too. In the Silence's bassist, Dennis, was back there as well, showing off his ProgPower souvenir, a small piece of plastic with a snap on it, a bit of wire, and a blob of solder. It was very obviously torn at the bottom. It had, he explained, come off his guitar during soundcheck. With the result that the guitar stopped working. He'd shown it to one of the techs. "Dude, I dunno if you can fix this -- " "You mean you need one of these?" The tech whipped out a replacement piece, soldered it on, and had it back to him before they finished sound check. Dennis was in awe.

Shortly thereafter, a man with long curly hair came backstage carrying two guitars. Dennis pounced him. "This is my hero! He fixed my guitar! I want a picture with this guy! Someone take these guitars."

So a band member insisted on a photo with a crew member. It was adorable.

I told Dennis that In the Silence had been my favorite act (which they were!), and thanked him for being there. "Thank you!" he said, "We are so honored just to be here." He was obviously super happy to be performing at ProgPower. "If this band ever broke up, I think we'd get back together each year just for this show. If we wanted to kill each other, we'd suspend the vendetta just for these four days." They were staying for the rest of the weekend to see all the other acts perform. Quite a few bands do so at ProgPower, if they don't have packed touring schedules (like Rhapsody, whom I think were flying out not long after their set finished.)

I asked Dennis for a picture, and he said "Sure! Hey, let me round up the whole band for you." And then he wandered around collaring a couple of band members -- "We should do pictures!" -- going off to find another two, come back -- "Where'd Josh go? This is like herding cats!"

Eventually, he did manage to get them all in one place at one time, so I have a picture of myself surrounded by a rock band. "I am the luckiest girl ever."


That's Dennis Davis on my right, pointing at me, Jarek Tatarek (flown in for the one song with the guitarviol on my left, Josh Burke behind me doing the horns (throwing the horns is a ProgPower tradition), and the other two are Nate Higgins and Niko Panagopolous..

I got a photo with Mikko too, and told him how great Rhapsody had been, and we hung about for a bit just enjoying the conversation. Dennis talked about getting energy from the show and posed with his hands in claws, like energy was shooting out of them, then on his toes with hands outstretched, as if being electrified. I suggested he get a shot of himself in the outstretched pose with Nathan (the show organizer) behind him doing the claw-hand pose. "That's a great idea! Hey, Nathan!"

We went back to the Artmore after that. The Artmore is entirely occupied by ProgPower attendees, and 100+ people hang out in the courtyard partying after the last concert ends. Alinsa and I sat down on a couch in the courtyard for a quarter-hour chatting, and then I decided I ought to try being social with the crowd. A man standing nearby was wearing black leather boots literally covered in metal spikes and strips, so I complimented him on them. He explained the construction (boots, plus one large piece of leather buckled over each boot, with bands of spiked and metal collars riveted/strapped/hotglued to the leather over-pieces) and introduced himself as Nicholas. Jose introduced himself at about the same time: he was working one of the vendor booths at the show. He wanted a beer. We hadn't gotten any, but I jokingly offered to sell him one from the selection of overpriced drinks the hotel stocked in the fridge in our room. He actually took us up on it.

Dennis and Josh showed up, and I ended up getting Dennis a bottled water from the fridge too. One of the other attendees wanted to hear Josh play acoustic, and had brought down a guitar after Josh agreed. So Josh sat on a free spot on one of the empty couches and started playing. The guy next to him left, so I took his seat and leaned forward to watch his fingering. (Another attendee caught this on camera and put it on his Facebook, here.) Which was astonishingly complex. It was hard to hear - there was no other music in the courtyard but the crowd noise alone was LOUD. We stayed up until around 2AM listening, then I had to crash. The hotel breakfast closed at 9:30AM (most reliable meal of the day!) and the VIP orientation for the show proper was at 11AM. Not to mention I was tired. z_z
rowyn: (smile)
ProgPower USA is a music festival held in Atlanta for progressive heavy metal. If you're wondering "what's progressive heavy metal?" I'm afraid I still don't know. Alinsa and I were emailing each other about music back in March and she mentioned ProgPower, then spent a couple thousand words talking about how amazing it was. At the end, she asked "Say, do you want to go?"

"... well, now I do."

So we made plans to go together this year. I intend to do a trip report. We'll see how much of it I get through!

I am not much for reviewing music -- I don't even have language in which to express what I like or don't like about a group -- so this is going to be more about my experience than about the show itself.

We arrived on Wednesday: there's sort of a pre-pre-show on Wednesday night, and a pre-show on Thursday, before the festival itself on Friday and Saturday.

The Wednesday night preshow featured Mörglbl, an instrumental-only group that was fun to watch, very expressive faces and an entertaining style, and a Queensrÿche tribute band, Mindcrime. They performed two albums in full, "Rage for Order" and "Operation: Mindcrime". I didn't think I knew "Rage for Order" that well, but I recognized every song and could sing at least the chorus on most. Alinsa and I stood directly before the stage and I shouted-sang nearly every line of "Operation: Mindcrime" along with the band. It was a good show with a small but enthusiastic audience. The singer emulated Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche's lead singer until last year) startlingly well, including the quirks of Tate's voice and style. I have seen "Operation: Mindcrime" performed live by Queensrÿche themselves -- the only concert I'd been to in the last 15 years -- and this was, well, granted not up to that show. But it was excellent. If you like Queensrÿche and live music, Mindcrime is well worth seeing.

Thursday night was In the Silence, Circle II Circle, and Luca Turilli's Rhapsody. (There is some kind of odd history with Rhapsody and Luca Turilli that I don't really know. I think maybe the current group doesn't have rights to the Rhapsody name. Turilli was the guitarist and not the lead singer, but has a large following and a lot of recognition as a solo act. Mostly in Europe. A lot of the ProgPower groups are well-known in Europe but have little following in the US. For the sake of brevity, I am just calling the group Rhapsody from here on.)

The Thursday preshow started around 6PM, but we had VIP passes and so arrived at 4PM to collect those, see the sound check, and get dinner backstage. Nathan, the preshow organizer, had sent instructions to meet "by the doors", so we waited outside the entrance. We met two other VIP holders there, Cindy and Sean, and chatted for a while on the steps about music and where we were from and the show. At 4:10, Sean went inside to hunt down Nathan, since Sean actually knew Nathan already. He came out again saying 'Security said he'd bring him out to me'. Another few minutes later, we all went in to see what was going on. It turned out we were supposed to get our passes at Will Call and meet Nathan by the doors directly outside the concert hall. Oops.

So we missed most of Nathan's VIP spiel, but he summed it up for us. Pretty straightforward: everyone in VIP was allowed before the barrier for the full set of every band, no photos from before the barrier after the 3rd song, and let the pro photographers do their thing and move around as needed. We sat through sound check for Circle II Circle, then filed backstage for dinner.

Dinner was in a small room backstage ("backstage" at this theatre was mostly "underneath the concert hall") with cafeteria-style tables. As we were seated at a round table, a handsome young man in a brown jacket asked if he could take the seat beside me. "Sure."

We exchanged a few remarks: I forget why but I commented on how he looked well-dressed in jacket and a nice shirt.

Alinsa: "Hey! You made fun of my nice shirt!" Alinsa was dressed in business-casual on both Wednesday and Thursday, button-front shirts with slacks.

Me: "That's because you're not wearing a nice jacket."

Newcomer, indicating his jacket, "10 dollars at an outlet. Ten years ago."

Me: "See, it doesn't even have to be an expensive suit."

Newcomer: "Thank you, by the way. I've been traveling for three days straight so it's good to hear I don't look it."

As we were talking, I noticed he had a distinct Scandivanian accent. Which meant he was almost certainly with one of the acts. Most prog metal is imported from Scandinavia, so if you're from that part of the world you don't need to come to America just to hear it. (Later, I found a couple of Swedish women who had come for the show, so it's not unknown. Plus some band members travelled with their families).

I was saved from asking about it when he mentioned that he'd come from Finland and another woman at the table said, "You came all the way from Finland for ProgPower?"

"Yes. With my instruments."

".... oh."

He introduced himself after that as Mikko, the keyboardist for Rhapsody: he's been with them a year. They do speed metal, and he noted it was very good practice, having to play fast enough to keep up with them. He stayed and talked to us for a good half hour at least, sometimes about his work -- his travel schedule was harrowing: he'd already played two concerts in the last two days and had not really slept in three -- and sometimes about random other stuff. Security theater and Customs coming into America (I apologized a lot for both), the climate and demographics of Finland ("Do people ever say "I'm sick of the cold, I'm going to move to a warmer country?" "Hah, I think that!"). It was neat. We missed the first couple songs of In the Silence because we didn't want to leave, but In the Silence sounded so good even from backstage that I had to go in. I was a little surprised when the other people rose almost immediately after I did -- apparently I triggered the 'time to go now' group instinct.

I loved In the Silence's performance -- I'd guess they're on the fringes of what can be considered prog metal, melodic and mellow at times, but great music. I bought their CD later in the weekend and am very much looking forward to listening to it. They had one band member that they'd flown 2200 miles to play one song. He played a guitar-viola, more-or-less an electric guitar played with a bow. It sounded great: I could hear the difference between it and the other guitars played in the same song.
rowyn: (Me 2012)
My parents didn't listen to music very much when I was a kid. They had perhaps a few dozen vinyl records, and I don't even know what most of them were. But there are two I listened to pretty often as a teen: the soundtrack for "Camelot", the musical, and "An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer".

Tom Lehrer did musical comedy, parodying popular styles but usually with original music. The exception would be "The Elements", where he sings the periodic table of elements to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Modern Major General". His career as a performer was from late 50s to 1970 or so. My very brief research says he retired from music because he'd lost interest in performing, not from any lack of success or demand. He continued to work as a math professor.

While I was cleaning a few weeks ago, I started ripping the small stack of CDs that had been gathering dust for, in some cases, years while waiting for me to get them onto my iPod. One of the jewel cases was for "That Was the Year that Was", by Tom Lehrer. It was unique in the stack in that I don't remember getting it. I don't know where it came from. My best guess is that I picked it up used at a con. Inside, however, was not "That Was the Year that Was", but "An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer".

This album is not topical music (the later TWtYtW is much more political) and holds up well over the 5+ decades since he released it. I think when it was re-released in the 90's it went platinum. I still enjoy it, although the cynicism resonates with me less now, amusingly. But I don't know how many of you will have heard of him. "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" has a certain notoriety, and "The Elements" retains its geek cred.

But there is one little thing that caught my attention while I was listening to it again. It's a live album and in the prelude to "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier", Lehrer says that his platoon sergeant, referring to the absence of an official Army song, "suggested we work on this in our copious free time".

And I thought: "Did Lehrer coin that? I'm sure this is the first place I heard that phrase, 'copious free time'." I checked with Google and, yes, looks like Lehrer did coin it. So if you've ever used that line and wondered who came up with it first, now you know.

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