The looming sunset of my annual gift to myself has been threatening to rob me of the one week of youth I get to relive each fall. I speak, of course, of ProgPower USA promoter Glenn Harveston‘s announcement a few years back that he intends to “wrap this thing up” after the festival’s 25th edition. As a mostly solitary adult who battles with sometimes debilitating social anxiety, I’ve come to see ProgPower not just as a music festival, but as an escape into a parallel dimension where I’m surrounded by people I love and trust enough to allow myself to do all the stupid shit my otherwise (mostly) responsible ass just can’t get away with during the daily grind. The anxiety that often lurks in crowds where movement is not an option has long been banished from Center Stage, the Artmore Courtyard, and the many other haunts we inhabit during my unholy hajj. It’s not just a music festival. It’s a sanctuary. And it may soon come to an end.
Having lost another such sanctuary in the recent-ish past, I’ve long been in search of another escape to look forward to each year, and the one that’s most caught my attention has been the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. Conceived in 2006 and sailing since 2011, 70K has become one of the world’s premier metal festivals, routinely hosting as many as sixty bands of many sub-genres across four stages, each performing twice. As if that alone doesn’t make the trek worthwhile, it also includes most of the usual cruise amenities and is attended by a significant number of good folks I’ve gotten to know at ProgPower. The temptation has long been tugging at my heartstrings, but the costs of parenting and revitalizing an old home have made the expense hard to justify.
Then I was asked to join the crew.
My Boat cherry got popped on January 30, 2023, and over the next several days I had the privilege of photographing a literal f**kton of esteemed ensembles and rowdy but fun-loving and well-mannered concertgoers. The audio clips that follow are a completely unscripted collection of audio diaries of one Texas shooter’s impressions of the fest, the crew, the crowd, the music, and the fabled Freedom of the Seas upon which Round 11 of the fest was held. Spoiler: I may have found a new Happy Place.
Audio Recap # 1:
Audio Recap # 2:
Audio Recap # 3:
Audio Recap # 4:
70K Tons of Metal – 2023 Photo Recap: