by Rick Krueger
A week after the final notes stopped ringing, I’m still gently buzzing about Progtoberfest III; it was easily the most immersive three days I’ve ever spent as a listener. Not all of the nineteen (!) bands I heard hit my sweet spot, but every single one belonged on the stages of Reggie’s Rock Club & Music Joint, and at least three sets (by Dave Kerzner, Discipline and Moulder, Gray & Wertico) were right up there with the finest live rock and jazz I’ve heard in nearly 40 years of concert-going.
So in closing, a few shout-outs to people who richly deserve them:
- First and foremost, kudos to Kevin Pollack, the quietly confident, indefatigable talent buyer at Reggie’s. Kevin had the original idea for Progtoberfest; not only did he bring his creation to life in 2014, he’s made it better and bigger each time. Over the weekend, I kept catching Kevin out of the corner of my eye, making sure an artist was at ease, dealing with an unexpected snag or forgotten details, constantly in motion — but also constantly attentive to the people around him. (Including me — I’m embarrassed that I borrowed his Sharpies for autographs and asked him to take photos with artists, but grateful that he was so gracious about it!) Kevin, without you and all the friendly, dedicated staff at Reggie’s, hundreds of people wouldn’t have had such a great weekend; thank you!
- Kudos also to Kris McCoy, the administrator for the Progtoberfest Guild Facebook group. Kris stoked our enthusiasm in the months before October 20-22 with a great YouTube playlist, info on the bands, and timely schedule updates; as the weekend unfolded, he kept the buzz going with plenty of live photos and posts. Kris, thanks for priming the pump so that Progtoberfest attendees — bands and fans alike — didn’t meet as strangers, but as part of a community!
- And I’m not exaggerating when I talk about a Progtoberfest community — not only did the bands and fans celebrate together, they supported each other when the chips were down. Two examples: Marius Halleland of Wobbler wound up alone in Chicago when the rest of the band was turned back at the US border. Festival-goers took Marius into their hearts throughout the weekend, and he did get to play onstage with The Tangent & Karmakanic. When prog-metallers In the Presence of Wolves had their equipment stolen following their Friday set, Sunday attendees bought enough of their merch to completely replace what was lost and have emergency funds left over. It was cool to spend three days with that kind of people.
- It’s also nice to know I wasn’t the only person there who was writing about Progtoberfest. Trevor Anthony Woods will have necessarily brief reviews of both the festival as a whole and Martin Barre’s headline slot in an upcoming issue of Prog Magazine. And I heartily recommend Cedric Hendrix’s series on the festival, which has already started over at Proglodytes. Cedric easily topped my count by seeing 37 of the 38 bands that played; I can’t wait to read his take on both what I heard and what I missed!
As you can see above, Progtoberfest 4 is already set for October 19-21, 2018. Exhausted as I was a week ago, I wasn’t sure I would be up for it again; now I’d love to go for at least a day. If I’m able to save up for a seated VIP ticket (which gets you both access for meet and greets and a yummy all-day buffet), can bring twice as much cash for swag as I brought this year, and remember to bring ear plugs, Sharpies and bottled water, who knows what next October might hold?
The rest of my Progtoberfest series is linked below:
- Day One: Schooltree, District 97, Dave Kerzner, Alphonso Johnson & Chester Thompson
- Day Two: ABACAB, Wave Mechanics Union, CAST, Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins, Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius, Dave Kerzner, Karmakanic & The Tangent, Bruce Soord
- Day Three: Kinetic Element, Discipline, School of Rock plays Yes, Chicago Zappa Collective, Thank You Scientist, Moulder Gray & Wertico, Martin Barre, The Don & Bunk Show.