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Festival News: Symforce: The Story So Far...

Posted on Monday, June 30 @ 01:06:55 UTC by nightowl

With Symforce II just a couple of months away, organizer John "Bobo" Bollenberg issued this press release, to catch you up on "the story so far" and a preview of the bands scheduled for this year's fest

On Saturday 15th September 2007 the very first edition of the SYMFORCE festival took place at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. With three separate stages under one roof, Symforce was able to spread well known and upcoming bands over the three separate stages slightly overlapping eachother?s sets so that the audience never had a dull moment all day. A detailed survey showed that everyone loved this new approach as opposed to the regular planning which sees a major act fronted by one or two support slots.

Whilst we tried to get Porcupine Tree and/or Opeth to headline the first edition of said festival, it became obvious that PT would be impossible for 2007 although Opeth let us believe they were interested to do it. After five months of negotiating we got the final news that Opeth would not be performing. So it was back to the drawing board only to notice that a lot of the big names had meanwhile made other plans so it became damned difficult to come up with a decent programme. However, looking back at what we came up with, the first Symforce festival was a damn good effort.

The festival kicked off in the main hall with Focus which immediately set the house on fire. In the main hall Focus was followed by Riverside, Pendragon and The Flower Kings. It was a very special night for the Flower Kings as it was the very last time Zoltan Cs?rz would be banging the drums for them.

Meanwhile in the small venue we kicked off with the French revelation Lazuli whom, although singing in French, exposed such huge professionalism and originality that everyone was very impressed, talking about a remarkable experience. It was also the very first gig on Dutch soil for THe Pineapple Thief, who strangely enough did pull some young people to come and see them. The final band in the small venue was The Aurora Project who not only played on home turf but also added a fair amount of theatrics to their show.

The smallest venue, The Batcave, played host to no less than four upcoming bands. First up was the fine Dutch trio Lady Lake who were so kind to let the other bands use their Hammond organ. Symforce welcomed Belgian seventies act Isopoda, who in its entire existence had never ever played in Holland before. With material from both Acrostichon and Taking Root, their original material close to vintage Genesis was highly appreciated.

The final "normal" act on the roster was that of the Swedish based Beardfish. For a lot of people Beardfish was th? best band on Symforce and everyone found it a pity that they performed on the smallest stage. As a final goodbye, Beardfish keyboardplayer Rikard Sj?blom teamed up with another drummer and delivered a progressive version of the instrumental genius of Booker T & MG?s under the moniker of Bootcut.

The first edition of the Symforce festival pulled around 1000 people which certainly isn?t a bad result for a very first edition. Here?s what the bands had to say:

Roine Stolt : "Flower Kings were invited to play the first Symforce festival of 2007. We were honored but didn't know what to expect. Now I can say that the festival was a most pleasant experience on all accounts, great team, great crew, great stage and visuals, great audience ...... and on schedule!!! What more can you ask for!? I'm glad to see that Europe has got it's first professionally run prog rock festival ...... I'd go back any day.?

Lazuli: "Immersion totale dans une autre dimension, le 013 ?tait devenu le temple du Prog. Nous avons fait le voyage de notre France natale ? la rencontre d'un public incroyable, m?lomane et g?n?reux. Apr?s notre descente de sc?ne, nous avons voyag? de concerts en concerts, de d?couvertes en d?couvertes... Exp?rience unique ! Merci ? l'?quipage du Symforce pour cette magnifique aventure!!!"

Bruce Soord, The Pineapple Thief: "Symforce was a fantastic day for us. It only goes to highlight the eclectic tastes many progressive music lovers have. We are very much aware that our more 'crossover' progressive sound splits the audience, but having three stages meant there was something for everyone. We had a great response after the show, made lots of new friends and gained a load of new fans (including the lighting lady!). One thing stands out for me though ? how well it was run. I can?t remember the name of the guy who sorted the logistics of the night, but he was legendary. Patient, friendly and professional. Oh, the PA in the second room (where we played) is not bad either. And, if she?s still there, the 'lighting lady' was the icing on the cake."

Arnold De Schepper, Isopoda: "013 proved to be an outstanding site for this kind of festival. To be able to play there before an exclusive prog- and sympho-rock audience was a great opportunity, you could breathe the visitor's excitement and sympathy. A second edition is a must!"

Arjan de Mooij: "The Aurora Project is very proud to have played at the very first Symforce Festival! It was a great day of love for progressive music. We had a blast meeting up with some of our prog-heroes backstage and enjoyed our talks with all the progfans in the venue. This festival will soon be legendary, thanks for inviting us!"

Happy and fulfilled and with bags full of positive feedback we started planning the second edition of this brand new festival. Although I had the date of 20th September 2008 pencilled in, we found out that someone at 013 had already booked every single Saturday in all of September so we?d either had to look for a date in October or move it forward to August. We opted for Saturday 23rd August for several reasons. Once again we approached Porcupine Tree but they wanted to concentrate on recording a DVD first and would therefore not join a festival. We once again put Opeth and also Pain Of Salvation high on our wants list and believe it or not but we got both names signed and sealed! As opposed to their one hour performances during open air festivals, both bands will perform their entire 2 hour + shows exclusively for Symforce!

Meanwhile the people at 013 had heard that the band Textures was doing extremely well in the States resulting in a lot of interest for their third album Silhouettes. As the band hails from Tilburg they most certainly wanted to join Symforce, for whom they will play an exclusive symphonic set. It's a one-off exclusivity you won't be able to experience anywhere else! Textures will open the second edition of Symforce in the main hall.

Having witnessed the band?s showcase in Paris on 22nd April, I knew we simply had to have upcoming band Demians. Positioned in between Textures and Pain of Salvation in the main hall, Demians has had some great press and quotes by Steve Wilson, who claims Demians to be one of the best band?s around. Who are we to argue this? Whilst the debut album Building An Empire has only been released on 19th May, Demians are set to become a very BIG name in the current world of progressive rock. If you?re into Opeth, PoS, Riverside then don?t miss their performance at Symforce!

After Demians we roll out the red carpet for Pain Of Salvation. Ever since day one these guys have surprised us with every single album. Guided by the multi-talented Dani?l Gildenl?w, our Swedish friends have gone from strength to strength gathering a loyal fanbase in their slipstream. Expect the unexpected at Symforce whilst rumours have it that all of the concept Be will be performed! We?ll just have to wait and see!

Top of the bill in the main hall will be none other than Opeth. The discussion as to whether they are progressive or metal will surely continue for decades to come but if Mikael leaves behind his grunts then some of Opeth?s music sounds like sugar candy on a frosty winter morning. With the new album Watershed just out no doubt a lot of new material will be performed live giving it that extra Opeth dimension. For sure it will be the icing on the Symforce II cake!

Not so long ago the Delft based band Alquin sold out the small venue all by themselves. And boy what a concert it was! Once again enough proof that these 'oldies' still have it and simply had to be invited for this year's Symforce. Performing in their original line-up it'll be an incredible experience to hear those classics in a whirling arrangement. Hats off!

Norwegian Magic Pie did accumulate a lot of praise with their debut album Motions Of Desire. This recognition was confirmed with their brilliant successor Circus Of Life. It'll be the very first time that the band performs in Holland and they?ll be bringing along their new lead singer Eirikur Hauksson. Eirikur is regarded to be one of the best rock singers in Europe and next to singing with Magic Pie he is still a member of Ken Hensley?s Live-Fire. Meanwhile Magic Pie has been named 'band of the year 2007' by the Norwegian progzine Tarkus.

Because it's no shame to sound like vintage Genesis the original compositions by our Italian friends The Watch gain more and more success as time goes by. It's especially singer Simone Rosseti who makes his mark as the bastard son of a young Peter Gabriel. Including authentic Moog and Mellotron next to an array of theatrical gimmicks, The Watch remains highly recommended for those of you who still have a weakness for the glory days of symphonic rock.

A world premiere at Symforce II? It sounds too good to be true yet it will happen. Coming from The Hague, Plackband recently decided to call it a day after having been around for a cool thirty years! However three quarters of the band would continue together with a new bass player. Because in the meantime the musical direction of the band has slightly changed they decided to bury the name Plackband and replace it with the more flashy sounding PBII (or Plackband II if you wish). PBII will be the closing band in the small hall.

Sooner than expected Flemish based Hypnos 69 is returning from France only to be present at Symforce II. Although they had decided to break up just after the release of their magnificent The Eclectic Measure album, the many positive reviews of said album made them swallow their pride. The band members got back together again and revitalized a new chapter in the history of Hypnos 69. Thank god! Starting out in the purest stonerrock fashion they have developed into honest progressive rock mixed with elements from the golden age of psychedelica and influences by Pink Floyd, Anathema, King Crimson, Motorpsycho and RPWL. Roll up, roll up!

The British [band] Solstice has by now been going strong for a little over twenty years and still this fine bunch of musicians is practically unknown to most musiclovers. Recently a large chunk of their output was re-issued including some tasty bonus material. The band already performed in front of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II and are keen visitors to a multitude of festivals. Including crystal-clear female vocals and a lyrical violin, Solstice delivers the kind of music that captures you over and over again.

Last year they set the Burg Herzberg Festival on fire. Where Ozric Tentacles left off, Quantum Fantay picked things up again. Including breathtaking solos and inventive arrangements, you can expect a very lively set which will turn the Batcave into a boiling room where spacerock elements will cascade from one wall to the other.

Without having it planned this way it looks like the Batcave has become a Belgian affair because also the final chapter of Symforce II hails from Belgium. As last year the first edition of the Symforce festival came to an end with Bootcut, loads of people commented very favorable. With only drums and Hammond organ Bootcut was able to captivate from beginning till end. Symforce II will end in a similar way with only drums and Hammond organ. This time however also the visual element will be an interesting touch. Italian influences, black/white horror movies, Ennio Morricone, Also Sprach Zarathustra, it all is part of the strange world of Kriminal Hammond Inferno. This duo from Brussels gets the privilege to end the second edition of the Symforce festival.

With twelve bands divided over three venues, Saturday 23rd August will undoubtedly be another highlight for those who like good music with progressive rock as the thread running through it. You will see well known bands confirm whilst you?ll discover new and upcoming artists. That's what Symforce II is all about, an event where YOU simply HAVE to be!

Opeth: www.opeth.com and www.myspace.com/opeth
Pain of Salvation: www.painofsalvation.com and www.myspace.com/painofsalvation
Demians: www.demiansmusic.com and www.myspace.com/demiansmusic
Textures: http://www.texturesband.com
Alquin: www.alquin.com and www.myspace.com/alquinband
Magic Pie: www.magicpie.net
The Watch: www.thewatch.it and www.myspace.com/thewatchmusic
PBII: www.pb2.nl and www.myspace.com/pb2nl
Hypnos 69: www.hypnos69.be and www.myspace.com/hypnos69
Solstice: solsticewebsite.com and www.myspace.com/solsticeuk
Quantum Fantay: www.quantum-fantay.com and www.myspace.com/quantumfantay
Kriminal Hammond Inferno: www.myspace.com/kriminalhammondinferno

Posted in Festival News