The 2018 ProgPower USA Festival will be taking place here in Atlanta on September 5th and 6th and the show is already sold out. With that being said, I thought I would try something a bit challenging. I talk a lot of shit about ProgPower (mainly because it’s fun) so today I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is… LITERALLY. After fees, I figured that the ProgPower 2-day pass was approximately 200 bucks. Divided by 12 bands, that’s roughly 16.75 per band.
I immediately hit the YouTubes/Spotify to give each of these bands a shot. I gave them ONE SONG because as we know, first impressions are everything. Then I went from there and figured out what would I pay to see each of these bands. How did the bands do? Are any of them worthy of my heard earned money? Well, read on and let’s see!
Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 – DAY 3:
Song Listened to: Trapped in the Shadows
Wow, not a great way to start. Their song was so nerve grating I could only make it about 2.5 minutes in. These guys look ridiculous. It’s like; they kind of tried for something but then just gave up. It’s kind of like a toddler getting into his mom’s makeup bag or something. Anyways, musically they are a talented band but there is ZERO originality here. Their singer is way annoying getting his face all up in the camera and vocally, he sounds like he’s trying way hard to be James Labrie. Hey buddy, news for you, James Labrie is already on this bill.
Would Pay: 0.00
Song Listened to: Prison Skin
Ok, so first off, the video had a warning that this video could cause an epileptic seizure. It was really thoughtful of them to let us know this beforehand. The song starts off with that very typical “proggy fast piano” intro. Musically, it all just sounded like diarrhea. You know, “let’s play all the notes.” I can see how the ProgPower kids like this but really? So much screaming. The back and forth of clean and cookie monster vocals I guess is supposed to set them apart but again, there is zero originality here and this could have been any of a number of other prog bands. Do not want!
Would Pay: 0.00
Song Listened to: Battle in the Sky
Ok, so this is the “power” aspect of ProgPower. This is just good ol’ power metal with, SURPRISE… a dragon/medieval theme to the lyrics. These guys have evidently been together a while. Honestly, this is definitely one of the better power metal bands I’ve heard in a while and I can see how their live shows would be a lot of fun. I don’t know that I could do 2hrs of this but to see them play for an hour or so, I’d be down with that.
Would Pay: 15.00
Labyrinth (band) (Italy) “Return to Heaven Denied” part I in its entirety
Song Listened to: Moonlight
Evidently this is a big deal if you’re a fan of Labyrinth. This album came out some 19 years ago and they’re playing it in its entirety so if you’re a fan, well, good for you. Again, this is definitely more of the “power” aspect but the trouble with this is that it’s so fucking dull. It sounds like a poor man’s Jeff Scott Soto singing for an even poorer man’s Helloween. It wasn’t horrible or insulting or even hard on the ears but it just lacks any kind of identity that captures me. I would be that live it’s note for note just like this without straying much at all. But would I pay to see it? Maybe.
Would Pay: $5.00
Redemption (USA) with new vocalist, Tom Englund
Song Listened to: The Art of Loss
I’m not listening to them with their new singer who apparently is a big deal in the prog metal community. Who knew? Anyways, have you ever listened to a band and thought to yourself, “these guys are pretty talented but are probably the most amateur sounding of their genre”? That’s exactly how I felt listening to this band. It just sounded like a bunch of Guitar Center employees jamming together with someone’s friend who can “kinda sing.” I’m actually surprised that of all bands, this one is so high up on the bill.
Would Pay: $10.00 (with 5 of that going towards some vocal lessons for homeboy)
James Labrie (Canada)
Song Listened to: I Will Not Break
Aight, I ain’t gonna lie. I do love me some Labrie. He’s definitely one of those love/hate kind of singers but what I appreciate is that his solo material is so different from the stuff he does with Dream Theater. It’s really interesting to see what he can do when given control of the wheel and I think he does a great job. I love the production, the layers, everything just seems to work perfectly and his voice sounds fantastic. Definitely worthy of a headline slot and worthy of getting my money!
Would Pay: $16.75
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 – DAY 4:
Song Listened to: My Fortress
Wow. Ok, I’ll be honest and say that so far, this is the best band of the bunch. I really dig this shit. It’s cool to hear a singer influenced by Doro Pesch playing this kind of heavier music. Another thing I really liked about this band was that they are so much more dynamic than a lot of the other bands I’ve listened to for this challenge. This band definitely gets it and totally understands the importance of dynamics. This song totally kept my interest the whole time and even has me wanting to listen to more. I dug this one. Would pay to see this!
Would Pay: $16.75
Eclipse (Sweden) *US Exclusive
Song Listened to: Vertigo
LOL. Sorry, I had to chuckle to myself. Is this a real band? I mean, they sound like a real band but they’re also fucking hilarious because if they are expecting me to take them seriously, it ain’t going to happen. I can appreciate what they’re going for. This is very much an 80’s sounding influence to them but it all just sounds really silly to me and not in a good way. This is like the “poppier” side of ProgPower. Definitely one of the most commercial sounding of them all so far but also very much a big ass bowl of weaksauce.
Would Pay: $0.00
Song Listened to: Sectarian
The only thing I could think while listening to this is that it sounds like a poor man’s Tool. That kind of monotone vocalizing sounds so ‘90s to me. Musically the band sound tight but honestly these guys are fucking boring. I mean, they even sound bored to death playing their own music. It just sounds so lifeless. My God I had to turn it off as I felt myself slipping out of consciousness as I wrote this. I hope that this band is somewhat of a visual band live because this just may be nap time for the ProgPower kids.
Would Pay: $0.00
VUUR (The Netherlands)
Song Listened to: My Champion
This is some crappy fucking shit. Seriously. What the fuck is this? I can’t even… wow. Seriously? Hopefully Trump will deny their entry to the US so that we’re not infected by this shit music.
Would Pay: $0.00 (and less if possible)
Song Listened to: No Grave But the Sea
I’ve seen these guys live before and I have to hand it to them, they know how to put on a fun show. Pirate Drinking Metal… it’s just so fucking corny and even for me it’s just a bit too much. Having seen them before, I can honestly tell you that I wouldn’t pay to see this. The band isn’t bad but the schtick is so fucking annoying and homeboy’s voice just makes me want to eat a glass bottle. Y’all enjoy this one but this definitely ain’t for me.
Would Pay: $0.00
Tarja Turunen (Finland)
Song Listened to: Innocence
Tarja is definitely an iconic performer in the Prog world. The former Nighwish singer has established herself as a pretty huge solo act but honestly, I can’t stand her voice. I mean, she’s obviously a very talented singer but it’s the same reason I fell out of liking Epica pretty fast. That operatic kind of singing just does nothing for me and this just sounds like really a-typical epic proggy metal. I’m sure everyone’s going to be creaming in their fanny packs over this set but I just don’t hear anything about her that is even headline worthy much less paying to see her.
Would Pay: $0.00
Total I Would Pay For ProgPower 2018: $63.25 of $200.00
So there you have it. I would pay a whopping $63.25 to see this two day onslaught of noteplaying. In all honesty, once I did the breakdown I can definitely say that 200 bucks is pretty much a bargain for this much music. I do have to wonder though how much of attending this festival is about being part of this “family” (I call them a clique) and just drinking a bunch of overpriced beer, eating overpriced pizza slices, and buying the shirt to say that they were there? Who knows but whatever it is, they love their festival.
Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll attend one of these if I feel like it’s worth it but then again, Mrs. ProgPower may be waiting for me at the door with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire so maybe I should just stay away.