Now a weekend-long celebration that takes place once a year, ProgDay claims to be the longest-running progressive rock event in the world. The truth of that statement likely hinges on how you define such an event and where you set the boundaries for prog rock, a genre that, by very its nature, defies definition.
But those who run this festival are to be commended for their survival nonetheless. ProgDay started in 1995 as the vision ofPeter Renfro, who organized the celebration largely on his own for the festival's first six years. Fans who enjoyed the event's embrace of prog rock tradition as well as its willingness to book acts that took the style a little further appreciated the endeavor, but the finances weren't adding up. Renfro announced that 2000 would be the fest's last year, but a collection of fans rescued the event, transforming it into a committee-run affair with an emphasis on fostering community among the genre's many fans.
Of course, there would be no crowds to unite if it weren't for the music. This year's double-wide ProgDay (Saturday and Sunday) delivers eight bands spread across two days, all of which meet expectations without necessarily exceeding them. Saturday builds up to a set fromBirdsongs of the Mesozoic, an outfit that for three decades has blended the complex counterpoints of classical music with the heady textures of progressive rock.Sunday headliner Iluvatar tinges lush, psychedelic expanses with an arena-ready sense of melody. Overall, it's a selection that's unlikely to win over many new fans, but that's not really the point of ProgDay. This celebration is presented by and intended for genre die-hards, and in that regard it's certain to satiate most comers. Day passes cost $65; weekend passes are $100. —Jordan Lawrence