CLOSE TO THE RAIN (Saturday) –
While walking towards the legendary rock ‘n’ roll club that is Garage last night to attend the Close to the Rain festival, it occured to me just how goddamn lucky and privileged we truly are to have our very own three-day prog rock festival in town. Thursday’s line-up consisting of Det Skandaløse Orkester, Kabaret Makaber, and Major Parkinson was particularly good, and Saturday was no different with such talented acts as Pixie Ninja, Ring Van Mőbius, Arabs in Aspic, and Anekdoten appearing. Unfortunately, logistics and an extremely early start the following morning prevented me from witnessing Anekdoten’s performance, which was a bit of a bummer, but from what I was told they were splendid.
First up were Pixie Ninja and their take on heavy and bombastic instrumental prog rock was most interesting. Their tunes were memorable yet suitably complex, which is to say that they had some cool hooks and strong melodies to them while the arrangements never turned into a convoluted mess. In other words, they were catchy and yet they had a lot of subtle details and layers to them, so one had to pay attention in order to be able to absorb and digest it all. These guys are superb musicians and seemed very much in control and quite disciplined last night, but things never sounded rigid. There was a certain confidence to the performance and the band received a great and appreciative response from the crowd. Their atmospheric compositions definitely deserve closer inspection, so check them out if you have not already done so.
Next up were Ring Van Mőbius, which I was realy excited about. Their "Past the Evening Sun" record blew me away and so naturally, I just could not wait to see how their wildly electric and emotionally charged music would translate into a stage performance. Luckily, I was not let down and the band totally delivered on all fronts. The way in which the songs move from psychedelic outbursts to melancholy and dream-like passages such seamlessly was mindblowing to behold and everything flowed together quite naurally and organically. The sounds conjured up by Ring Van Mőbius resonate with energy, but they are also riddled with light and shade. The tunes encompass many different emotions and for some reason they bring to mind such bands as The Doors, Uriah Heep, Hawkwind, and Van der Graaf Generator, yet Ring Van Mőbius sound like none of them and clearly have a strong musical identity of their own. They closed their set with the "Past the Evening Sun" title track and the only way to describe that ragged thing of beauty and extravagant prog rock workout is magnificent, playful, and lively.
Arabs in Aspic recently released a fantastic EP entitled "De Dødes Tjern/Step Into the Fire" and as with Ring Van Mőbius, I was well and truly excited about watching these talented guys perform live. I am happy to report that their evocative and haunting soundscapes were exquisite and hugely atmospheric in a live setting and that the band as a whole seemed confident and happy to be up there on stage. Their songs possess a warm and organic feel, and these incredibly skilled musicians had no problem replicating the sound of their studio releases live last night. The way in which those fluid bass lines, otherworldly guitars, and brilliant percussive bits were woven together was a treat to see and experience. A highly enjoyabale performance with an informal and friendly vibe to it. Every lover of prog rock ought to check these fuckers out now.
Close to the Rain had a warm and cozy atmosphere to it, and it actually felt very familiar and comfortable somehow. You could tell that the people there were devoted to the music and in good spirits. The merchandise stands had a lot of great items for sale and the festival was well-organized. You had teenage girls, bearded old men, hipsters, black metal scumbags, and everyone in between present at the festival, and that is surely a sign of just how diverse and appealing prog rock is and how pleasant and cool Close to the Rain was. I am already looking forward to next year’s rendition of the festival. Make sure you do not miss out on this in 2019.