RoSfest Festival 2017: A sublime progressive feast for your musical senses – Part III (Final)

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If you landed in this page without reading the first part of this article, you can do so by going here, and also the second part can be found here.

SUNDAY:

The last day was here and many were worn-out after prolonged hangouts at the hotel lobby for two consecutive nights (myself included). THE FIERCE AND THE DEAD were the openers, and boy, did they shake the house down. One of the best part of festivals of all musical styles is finding the band you never heard of and having them lobotomizing your skull. A true “Church of Prog, Wake-up Band”, these Brits combined post-rock picking with some brutally heavy riffing, flirting out with heavy-metal. Firm, vibrant passages alternated with ones with a looser, more open nature, occasional dipping into punk. Their all-instrumental sound could probably loosely be filed under the “Post-Rock/Math-Prog” category, yet it revolves around being non-conformative, sophisticated challenging, and intriguingly primitive sounding at times. I must say they were the perfect band to shake off the accumulated tiredness, establishing a great rapport with the audience. Tight musicians that know each other well, I was gladly impressed by Stuart Marshall’s relentless and at times maniacal way to pound his drumkit. My dear friend Octavia Brown who is behind the organizational team of the 2Days Prog + 1 Festival (a wonderful free-admission progressive rock celebration happening in Veruno, Italy every September) visited the US to enjoy her first dib at RoSfest and fell in love with these guys… even though they are Arsenal’s fans!

The Fierce and The Dead

I was very much looking forward to the EVERSHIP set, as their eponymous album from last year knocked my socks off at the first listen. Sean Atkinson and company had only played live two times prior to RoSfest, and while setting up the extra video cameras to help them record their performance I asked myself how nervous they could be before hitting the stage. They had all sorts of cool toys in their setup: a Theremin, a pink double-neck bass and even a CP-80… Curtains raised and technical difficulties made presence since the very beginning, but that did not prevent them to crank out their lyrically adventurous symphonic prog-rock, layered with acoustic guitar textures and adorned with a precise amount of heavy edge. They have an insanely gifted vocalist in Beau West with loads of prog goodness, and the songwriting, the lyrics, and vocals have a synergy that makes their music to stand out. Bombastic symphonics combining some Queen influences, highlighting rocket-propelled crunchy guitars and over the top lead vocals that tilt closer to opera and heavy metal, all shielded within a tight score with fluctuating arrangements and impossible to predict what is next down the pipes. Have I said I was in heaven? But wait, there was more… Since they have only one album out they needed to fill the gap in their set with a couple of covers… so they threw in two exciting renditions of STYX’s “Suite Madam Blue” and KANSAS’s “Portrait (He Knew)” which made the audience to clamor and applaud at unison. I will not say this is a band that will go places, as I believe they already set sail!
 

Evership

I had seen EDENSONG last year at Progtoberfest II and I knew what to expect. This band has come a long way in the last 8 years or so and have improved immensely as a live band. The material from “Years In The Garden Of Years” is much darker that “Fruit Fallen” and it comes across exactly that way in their live shows. Their musical palette is very hard to pin down, some passages come across as what could be the unborn child of Jethro Tull and King Crimson, while some others have a more eclectic nature, filled with expressive, memorable and playful variety. Their song structures sometimes reminiscent of the best of Genesis, also find familiarity with the mellotron sound and ofttimes whimsical nature of the transitions. A mixture of old and new, intricacy and aggression, the music features the flute in additional and compelling ways, wrapped with an extraordinary rhythm section full of driving base and Tony Waldman’s exquisite and varied drumming. There is enough complexity in EDENSONG’s music to leave you light-headed, but don’t let that prevent you from revisiting their albums.
 

Edensong

The final band for the night and the one to close the festival was ÄNGLAGÅRD. Everyone who knows me, knows they are my personal friends and one of my all-time favorite bands, therefore I won’t delve much into describing their performance, as I don’t want to sound excessively biased. Their set was divided in two parts with a short intermission which was actually a misunderstanding, as the initial idea was for them to never leave the stage. The first part consisted of songs spanning their second album “Epilog” and their third “Viljans Öga”, on which they did a magnificent job. Then for their second set they played their legendary first record “Hybris” in its entirety, using the giant video wall in the back to display visuals allegoric to the song thematic, and for whatever inexplicable reason, the band seemed even more cohesive and inspired during those four songs, nailing every note in some sort of uncanny manner. Änglagård’s music is not for everyone; you either love it and enjoy how it fries your brain or simply don’t understand it at all. It goes beyond complexity and challenges; it pushes the boundaries of your pre-defined conceptions of harmony and structural compositions. As I described myself once: “A sonic rollercoaster of aggressive music in odd meter, subtle parts and melancholic beauty, building suspense and abrupt stops, with a wondrous interplay of sounds”. For some it doesn’t click, but I know many were blown away and considered their virtuoso show an exceptional way to end the festival.

 

Änglagård closing the RoSfest 2017 festival

 

FINAL NOTES:

I know, I know, I said I would be brief, but hey, you read all the way to here! Is difficult to put such a large amount of happenings in black and white without writing a bit too much. A curated selection of sound coming from some of the best progressive bands in the planet, and running with Swiss clockwork punctuality, RoSfest continues to set standards in the way an event of such magnitude should materialize. Obviously it is impossible to please everyone, and I’ve heard opinions about the line-up lacking avant, zeuhl, krautrock, space, electronic, and fusion acts. While I respect everyone’s opinion, I can tell you that putting together an event of this significance is far from being your regular 9 to 5 job. There are so many variables and moving pieces, such a huge logistic to handle and so many details to nail like most of us have no idea; it could easily be the subject for your next never-ending nightmare. In my opinion the team led by George and his wonderful wife Beth continue to outdo themselves year after year, and they deserve the highest praise for their dedication and countless efforts to overcome any difficulty and keep offering their loyal attendees such an exciting and fulfilling and mind-blowing musical experience. Next year is their 15th anniversary, and I know George is “cooking” something special, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Below you can find the complete picture galleries for the third and last day.

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