NEARFEST 09-The Rest: Oblivion Sun, DFA, Trettioåriga Kriget, Beardfish
Echoes‘ John Diliberto wraps up his Nearfest 09 Reviews
In what turned out to be a very good Nearfest, I’ve already covered my favorite acts. You can read about Gong and PFM, Steve Hillage and Van Der Graaf Generator, and my faves of the festival, Cabeza de Cera and Quantum Fantay.
Here’s a quick run through the rest.
From the remains 0f Happy the Man, rose Oblivion Sun with guitarist/vocalist Stan Whitaker and keyboardist Frank Wyatt. OS follows in Happy the Man’s symphonic prog tradition, but while Happy the Man seemed a little behind the curve in the 1980s, Oblivion Sun sounds like they’ve fallen off the back. Very good second generation symphonic progressive with occasional lapses into bad pop tunes and crotch-rock like “The Ride,” which recalled “Foxy Lady.” Whitaker is a middling vocalist but when they left the instruments to sing, they attained a bit of the dynamic variety that a lot of other bands missed, especially on “Tales of Young Whales” where a pastoral melody and Genesis-style guitar picking surround a Steve Hackett-style epic adventure with wailing sustained guitar lead from Whitaker. Whitaker delivered the best joke of the festival, although not that well:
Why are all the 70 year old mothers happy when Nearfest comes around?
Because they get to clean out the basement where their sons live.
Duty Free Area, or DFA is an Italian quartet that’s predominantly instrumental and should stay that way. The few vocals made them a mediocre rock group. This was their second NEARfest appearance. I missed a good chunk of their set while interviewing Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage, but what I caught were songs that built up in furious streams of energy while negotiating complex rhythms and intricate unison playing.
Beardfish is a Swedish band with the typical guitar/keyboards fronted line-up and a bass player, Robert Hanson, who executed a modified, one-legged moonwalk back and forth across the stage throughout their set. Although there are feint allusions to mid-period Frank Zappa, they’re essentially a progressive band in the Genesis-Kansas vein occasionally slipping into pure blues-metal on tunes like “The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer,” making them sound about as prog as Quiet Riot. Guitarist David Zackrisson was an engaging frontman with one of the better lines at the festival:
Have you ever thought about the infinity of space?” he asked. “That’s a fucking nutcracker, isn’t it.”
Their music wasn’t quite as cosmic or ironic.
Trettioåriga Kriget (Thirty Years War)
Trettioåriga Kriget is a Swedish band that’s been around since 1970, making them contemporaries of Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator and PFM. They were the most conventional rock band of the festival, often attaining arena-rock pomposity. Some of their tunes sounded like homages to The Kinks‘ “You Really Got Me” and almost everything seemed to end in mid-stride. There’s always at least one room-clearing act at NEARfest. Usually they tend to be on the avant-garde and aggressive side like Present. This year it was Trettioåriga Kriget who just bored people.
I’ll have a NEARfest summation soon.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))