Friday night, I met my rock and roll road warrior & friend Bryn Schurman for the opening show of the Progressive Nation Tour 2009 at the confusingly named, but very cool, Fillmore at The Jackie Gleason Theater at Miami Beach. Dream Theater started this idea last year with a tour that included personal favorites 3 and Opeth, along with Between The Buried And me. While I enjoyed last year's show, this was a “proggier” evening.
Houston's Scale The Summit opened the evening with their unique brand of instrumental progressive jazzy metallic rock; music that truly takes you on a journey. Finding out afterward that this was the band's biggest show so far was a bit of a surprise as they gave an inspired and professional performance of technical virtuosity and melodic composition. Hearing them perform the music from their second album live made me a die-hard fan…this band is only getting better!
L.A. band, Bigelf took the stage second with sense of psychedelic style that takes cues from all the biggest names of the 60-70’s; weaving a sound reminiscent of a bazaar mix of Deep Purple and Arthur Brown. Although unfamiliar with their work, I enjoyed their performance…and retro clothing; Bigelf is now marked for further investigation.
Being introduced to Frank Zappa at a young age has its pros and cons; it opens your musical mind to many unconsidered possibilities but almost ruins mainstream music for you…for life. Dweezil spent a long time perfecting this tribute to his father’s work and it shows. Having witnessed the original Zappa Plays Zappa 2006 tour on DVD, I was expecting great things from the current version of the lineup. No one was disappointed as this tight ensemble performed very difficult music flawlessly. If you have ever loved Frank, check out Zappa Plays Zappa in any form possible!
Dream Theater has made their career outside the mainstream; little radio/video support has not hurt the band’s popularity considering they are currently enjoying some of the biggest successes of their entire history. Known for their considerable music chops, this was one of their best shows that I have personally seen. Although never a huge fan, they earned points with me on their current album and tour; especially the epic tune, “The Count of Tuscany”. If you have ever enjoyed a Dream Theater album or show, you owe it to yourself to see this tour; the band is on their game.
Progressive Nation 2009 is a five hour music journey through widely varying artists who deserve your attention. You may not like all four but you will definitely appreciate their passion and you may find a new favorite.