Various - CalProg - The Official Bootleg

Year of Release: 2005
Label: independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 82:49:00

For this event, the CalProg coordinators put together a noteworthy line-up. Unlike other music festivals, this one occurred on a single, solitary day (June 5th, 2005). On this particular occasion, the festival (as represented on this CD) starts and ends with impressive presentations by Spiraling and Izz (though The Flower Kings, absent from this CD, were the headliners). The middle brought to us by Bubblemath and Tiles is also terrific because these bands do a little of their own overachieving. You may not get the impression just looking at the track listing, but it seems as if it were a real special day. From what I hear in the recording, it goes off smoothly and without a hitch. It satisfied the crowd completely and if you have any doubts, you'll get considerable confirmation from the audience's continuous applause.

Additionally, the planners required each band to play a cover from a classic band of their choosing. This is an excellent idea and in some ways, these songs were some of the biggest highlights of the day. I wish more artists alternated their concert selections between the catalogs of other bands. This gives the listener a chance to separate the musician from the musicianship. If you ever heard Dream Theater play "Won't Get Fooled Again," you'd quickly see what I mean. Simply put, some bands are better when it comes to playing while others are better at writing.

Anyway, to get on with the assessment, Tom Brislin's Spiraling opens the show. Tom is a great speaker and engages the audience often. As most of you may know, he filled in for Rick Wakeman on Yes' Symphonic Live tour. What you may not know is that the band he operates on the periphery is incredible in its own right. It's a combination of power pop and prog. While he has many radio-friendly songs, he integrates many progressive and symphonic elements into his music. Some are more mainstream while others several degrees outside the commercial radius. He's makes light of this attribute. There is a point in his set where he asks the crowd if they are ready for prog. When he gets their applause and urging, he says he isn't quite ready for that and tells them he'd like to share a song that features one simple riff. The song he is picking on happens to be "Face For Radio" and even though it's guilty of such a terrible offense, it's still a highly palatable track. Since Tom is such a Yes buff, it is completely appropriate that he chooses "Sound Chaser" to end his glorious set. He states that he recently spoke to Jon Anderson who said he was mad to try out the song. There was obviously a method to his madness as he nails this number.

Bubblemath may have come next, but they come at us from on the opposite side of spectrum. They seemed to be more interested in time signature, technicalities, and mathematics than presenting us with engaging riffs or melodies. While they are technically sound, their songwriting can be a humongous turn-off. It's too avant-garde for my tastes and in this case, the cover requirement turned out to be a basic necessity. They choose to play Genesis' "The Knife" and it turns out to be their saving grace. I may not have actually "gotten" what they were trying to accomplish when it came to the structuring of their own songs, but when playing this elegantly-crafted classic, they get it just right. This goes to show they are quality musicians, even if their songwriting exhibits some serious deficiencies. In general, I wasn't too fond of their singing, but in some ways, they made it more about the lyrics than their atonal abilities. Their verses resembled what you would normally get from They Might Be Giants. I did get a kick out of their song "Get A Lawn" where they continuously rambled on about getting a lawn or asking the question, "can't we all just get a lawn?" In addition, it was funny when they talked to the crowd as eccentric evangelists. Sometimes humor wins out and in this case I think they pulled it off. Due to these two numbers, "The Knife" and "Get A Lawn," they had what should be labeled as a respectable showing. I will admit, they had several passages that were quite enjoyable. They showed promise and potential and their performance could have been a whole lot worse. It's just that if it was my choice, I would have represented them less on this recording.

After enduring Bubblemath, Tiles comes next. I saw them perform at ROSfest 2005 and I must say they were somewhat of a stink bomb on that storied day. This was partially due and compounded by the fact that the others on the bill set the bar so very high. Their performance would have been understandable had they had less experience on stage or gotten an earlier slot, but they were second only to the headliners. Go figure! When The Tangent came on stage, it was a night and day difference. Still, every band is allowed their good and bad showings. From the sounds of it, their appearance at CalProg contradicts their failed attempt. They seemed to strike the bull's-eye with every riff to such a degree it doesn't even seem like the same band. Their singer especially hits all the high notes without a single crack. What I did notice at their ROSfest performance is that they had literally no presence on the stage. It would have been an improvement to have them play backstage while picking out some fans to play air instruments. Truth be told, there was one fan in particular that day who played a real mean air guitar. In any event, this is a major drawback, which may have tainted my overall opinion when it comes to seeing them perform live. I did not attend CalProg and have only gotten to hear the playback. To the best of my knowledge, this seemed to be quite a different experience. Not to mention, we only get two songs from them on this recording ("Facing Failure" and "Modification") from their album Presents Of Mind. This is probably good as their hand-picked contributions resulted in a pair of ripe and ready produce. [You can read Steph's on-site impressions in her festival report].

The CD is rounded out with Izz who bring things to a compelling conclusion. I've seem them perform live at ROSfest 2004 and they are great in concert. Unfortunately, we only get two songs from them here. We get treated to the title song off I Move and one of the stronger songs off their debut album. Both are fantastic and it's a great band to help finish off the festival. Also, it's odd, but the last track is cut-off a couple seconds too short. It's disconnected before the final note is even done reverberating. If I had any one complaint, it's that I would have wanted more from them, quite possibly borrowing the needed space from Bubblemath. At the very least, they should have rented enough room for the last song to finish.

As mentioned above, the Flower Kings, who headlined the festival, do not appear on this CD. No mention is made at the CalProg site; could be, though I have no knowledge of it, that TFK are planning to release their set themselves. Or that there just wasn't room. Whatever the reason, they aren't here.

The headliner is a high spot, but I'd probably say the opener was the primary highlight. It's hard to say, but anybody who came late missed out on the main part of the meal. Yet, those who stayed till the very end indulged in a most delightful delicacy. Likewise, the meat in the middle was more than sufficient sustenance to satisfy the most progressive hunger pangs. It would have been interesting to hear the covers of Tiles and Izz, but maybe the producers felt anything more than two covers was excessive. Not to mention, what better choices could they settle on than Genesis and Yes? Ultimately, they settle on some fine selections from each of the respective bands.

All in all, I enjoyed this disc. The packaging was nothing more than a slimcase, a burned CD, and a Xerox of some typed-out liner notes, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. In a genre that is often neglected by the commercial community, it is blessing that promoters, producers, and ambitious fans, put their time into coordinating such events and productions. No telling how many copies remain or how long the channels will remain open. So, get your copy while you can. It's good music, and in some ways the best live material you can expect from these bands. You couldn't ask for anything more, which is why you shouldn't take a pass on it.

Spiraling: Connection (3:35) / Face For Radio (6:55) / Texas Is The Reason (6:30) / You Can't Get There (6:30) / Sound Chaser (10:30) / Bubblemath: Be Together (6:07) / Get A Lawn (6:04) / The Knife (8:49) The Sensual Con (7:52) / Tiles: Facing Failure (6:35) / Modification (3:24) / Izz: I Move (5:21) / Assurance (6:28)


CalProg 2004 - The Authorized Bootleg (2004)
CalProg 2005 - The Authorized Bootleg (2005)
CalProg 2006 - The Authorized Bootleg (2006)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin US

Added: October 4th 2005
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website:
Hits: 751
Language: english


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