NEARFest 2003: photos and memories
This post is in my series regarding the North East Art Rock Festival (NEARFest) more about which you can find here. You can find all of my posts regarding NEARFest here and I started the series here. You can also learn more about this particular Festival here and here. The information below are just some highlights I remember and photographs I took from the Festival.
The lineup for NEARFest 2003 was (including Friday night):
- The Flower Kings
- Glass Hammer
- Alamaailman Vasarat
- High Wheel
- Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Here is the 2003 logo, as designed by Roger Dean:
This was the fifth NEARFest and my fourth consecutive Festival and, as one can see above, by this time the Festival was now well established and attracting prominent prog rock bands like Camel, Magma, and the Flower Kings, and a wealth of quality lower tier bands.
This was yet another great Festival. Camel is another great classic band which graced the Festival state that, due to age, I never thought I would see live and they did not disappoint. They played with Yes‘s Magnification Tour keyboardist Tom Brislin. Magma, which has a long a storied prog rock history and has a dedicated cult following, is a rather unique Zeuhl band which pounded out intense rhythms with a choir of singers. Quite honestly, I enjoyed their relentless music for about twenty minutes, especially because I would likely not see this band in another context, but I could not bear much more than that; it was just too much. Although the Flower Kings are a “name” band, I did not find them to be particularly interesting. Kraan played a great set of German fusion, but the fusion band I truly enjoyed was Tunnels which is a break off of Phil Collins‘ side project Brand X. Tunnels was a really interesting band presenting most of their music as a trio with vibraphones as the lead instrument. I found their sound refreshingly unique. Glass Hammer, which is now a stalwart prog rock band, played heavily Tolkien influenced and Yes like symphonic rock. Of course, Glass Hammer had the benefit of having some rather attractive female backing singers who I had had the opportunity to meet. As a side note, and perhaps not coincidentally, Glass Hammer‘s current lead singer Jon Davison is now also the lead singer for Yes. Alamaailman Vasarat was probably my favorite band of the weekend because they were just so quirky and weird. I have never heard anything like them before or since. They basically were a Scandinavian band which played klezmer on brass instruments and two cellos played through a fuzz box. They were such a fun and weird band and they were the sort of band that made NEARFest such a great festival for me to go to; the “big name” bands are great but the Festival was really the only forum for me to learn about these very small time (fairly “unknown”) bands, let alone see them live! There is so much great music out there and the Festival provided a great vehicle to introduce it to a good audience. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum was a metal band which channeled Peter Gabriel in their disguises and costumes and face paint. Needless to say, as much as I loved Camel, this was a great year for the bands on the undercard! As with the previous two festivals, I had opportunity to once again meet Yes artist Roger Dean and ask him to sign a boat load of material for me. Finally, this Festival continued its great tradition of having music in places other than the stage as Second Sufis set up outside the theater (pictured below) and presented some really cool improvised music.