When I saw the line up released for Progfest 2018, I jumped online straight away to snap up tickets. The year before I had an awesome time seeing much of the talent Australia has to offer in the prog scene. This year the line up was no different. My friend Phillip, a fellow prog enthusiast, came along with me as he did the year before. It looks like we’re now creating an annual tradition.
We arrived during the set of Logic Defies Logic. Entering the Corner Hotel, LDL were playing their last couple of songs. It looked as though they had drawn a bit of a crowd. These dudes have relocated the band from New Zealand to Melbourne. They play a Prog/Funk/Rock style of music which definitely finds some inspiration from the likes of Faith No More. They released an album in March 2017 called "Magic & Science".
Fierce Mild was a band I was keen to see live after reading online that the band use videographer, Stephanie Peters to create all their visuals. I like how many bands are integrating visuals into their live performance. I’ll admit I was slightly disappointed as the band were only able to project the images onto a few projector screens which didn’t end up adding much to the atmosphere of the show. That aside, they put on a dynamic performance. Their music takes you through a very Australian sonic landscape and each band member engages in the performance with passion and conviction.
Enlight were magical! Their talented vocalist, Rachael Graham, reminds me so much of Katie Noonan from the band George, stunningly melodic and dreamy. I saw Enlight a couple of years ago, and this year they were far more confident on stage and really had the audience enthralled as they took us on a ‘mystical journey’. They performed a heavier version of their latest video release, ‘Girl’. Head over to youtube to watch, it’s a gorgeous yet sophisticated song.
If your a fan of 90s prog metal you have to check out Acolyte. They bring a modern twist on this genre. I have been following Acolyte for a while online and wasn’t sure what to expect from their live show, but I was really impressed as they put together a fantastic set. Morgan-Leigh Brown has an exceptional talent as their front woman. Whilst powerful with her delivery, the other members compliment her so well, as they too are masters at their craft. Check out their album "Shades Of Black".
After Acolyte my friend and I left to grab a bite to eat at MeatMother which lives down the road of the Corner Hotel. They had pretty interesting set up. It’s like a butcher shop when you walk in, you choose the cut of meat you want and how you want it cooked. Phil and I both ordered steak, something I don't ever order, and it tasted incredible. Exactly what I needed to pick me up for the rest of the night.
While having dinner we missed out on Adelaide’s Dyssidia who have an Ep out called "Of Delight & Despair",
and Sydney’s post-rock outfit Meniscus who have an album out called "Refractions" check them both out!
This was sadly Branch Arterial’s final show ever. Though all five of them were crammed onto the very small Poseidon stage, they were able put on a solid performance. You could hear the whole crowd singing along, giving them the send off they deserved. If you're a fan of Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus check our their album release from last year "Beyond The Border".
Alitha have just return from a European tour with Agent Fresco and Leprous. They embraced the stage with much enthusiasm, putting on a truly ethereal performance. My favourite part of the set was what can only be described as a bop synth break down that I couldn’t help but laughing at out of pure enjoyment. Their vocalist John Rousvanis has returned after a long absence, and I found him simply enigmatic. The way he moved and delivered vocally was so unique and alluring. I would describe their music as a cross between The Mars Volta and Arcade Fire. This is one of those bands that will leave you unable to help yourself saying, damn I love Australian music.
Voyager were absolutely phenomenal! This band is so underrated and deserves far more attention than they receive. Their last album "Ghost Mile" is a finely crafted masterpiece. There was so much energy and positivity pouring from the stage, you can tell these guys and one gal love what they do. A highlight was lead singer, Danny Estrin pulling out his bright red keytar. I have to say their performance was the best of the festival.
I had heard the name Toehider around online but was not familiar with their music. My friend and I decided to stay for a couple of songs to see what it was like and we ended up staying for the whole set. Mike Mills is such a charismatic and fun front man. He’s kind of like a prog version of Andrew W. K. Mike, and he is one talented dude. He writes all the music, absolutely shreds on the guitar and his vocal range is out of this world. Pretty sure he hit the highest note of the night. Toehider write some really catchy songs, which I would have loved to sing along with if I knew the words.
I can't tell you how hot it was in the Corner Hotel, I was sweating up a storm and needed breather during the Orsome Welles set to prepare myself for the headliners, Leprous. I have seen Orsome Welles live before and they are great at putting on a theatrical performance. Worth watching if you get the chance.
Leprous are only a newly discovered band me. Hailing from Norway, these guys put on a powerful show. Vocalist and keyboard player Einar Solberg demands your attention; he is clearly a force to be reckoned with. The rest of the band, with great energy and passion played with such precision and technicality, a flawless performance. I actually enjoy their music even more live than on their recorded versions. A great way to finish the night.
I’m giving Progfest 2018 a 9/10. It was truly an awesome display of prog musicianship.