It now seems fairly clear that the Cathedral reunion announcement I cited is probably a hoax. Joke’s on me. I should know better: don’t believe everything you read on the Internet — especially bulletin boards.
A couple live shows I saw that I should have mentioned earlier: ProgDay, and Los Jaivas. As regards the former, I actually only saw four of the eight bands due to prior engagements and the fact that my girlfriend lives in Chapel Hill, and my trip down to NC was as much to see her as to see the festival. To be honest, I was totally unexcited by the lineup anyway, and the only band that I was really interested in seeing was Cuneiform chamber-rockers Far Corner; however, I was happy to support the festival by buying two weekend passes, in the hopes that every little bit of help will encourage the organizers to move ahead with a 2006 incarnation.
Far Corner didn’t disappoint. I am lukewarm about their studio disc; it has moments I adore but a lot of the quieter, more ambient parts lose my interest quickly. Their live performance was more intense and rocking than anything on the studio album — including a sweet jam that the band seamlessly segued into after Dan Maske’s keyboard rig lost power during a new composition. William Kopecky was a joy to watch on the fretless bass. After seeing this performance I’m a bit more understanding of the comparisons to other chamber-rockers like Present, and would gladly see these guys again. However, seeing this performance still didn’t do much for my appreciation of the studio album. Oh well.
The first band I saw was The Spacious Mind, which had some moments of brilliance, but I think they’re the reverse of Far Corner in that I’d probably enjoy their studio work better. The long, spacy sections lost my interest live, where in a different environment — say, sitting in my apartment in the dark with headphones on — I could get lost in them instead of them being lost on me. Happy the Man I was as indifferent to live as I am to their records. The band just doesn’t really do it for me, although I did enjoy their extremely high-energy NEARfest show back in 2000.
The next day I saw Far Corner and the Glenn Phillips Band before having to leave. Glenn Phillips is a pretty phenomenal guitarist. Unfortunately, his band is definitely his band, in that they basically play little more than a backing role to his incendiary solos. Fun, but it got old without more compositional rigor — guitar solo after guitar solo, no matter how excellent they were, wasn’t really my bag. I did have a tremendous amount of fun just watching him rock out, though.
Just a few days after the ProgDay weekend I was treated to an amazing outdoor show by Los Jaivas, playing at the Kennedy Center here in DC. The crowd was quite large, probably at least 500 people, most of them Chilean. At times I almost felt like I was at a soccer game. The band was tight and incredibly energetic (and incredibly loud — I was really thankful the show was outside). Since they have an enormous discography — after all, the band was founded over 40 years ago — I didn’t recognize a lot of their set; however, they did play a fair amount of stuff from Alturas de Macchu Picchu and Canción del Sur, stuff I am familiar with. In particular, seeing hundreds of people blissing out to “La Poderosa Muerte,” a truly progressive piece of music in the symph-prog sense, was pretty awesome. Also, seeing the bewildering array of native/traditional instruments used to create the sounds found in those old classics was really fun. In contrast, listening to the studio albums now just doesn’t cut it; the live sound was so much better. An awesome, fun show.