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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Progfest Highlights Progressive Rock

November 07, 1994|STEVE APPLEFORD

The flash and bombast that was progressive rock is unlikely to enjoy the same rebirth this decade as other remnants of '70s pop. Even such art-rock champions as Yes and Genesis have long since moved on to the top-40 singles chart.

None of that kept the faithful from gathering on Saturday for the first of two days at the Variety Arts Center for Progfest '94.

Headlining on Saturday was the Swedish band Anglagarde, a six-person unit that mixed graceful acoustic passages with overblown jazz-rock crescendos. Unconcerned with the usual boundaries of song structure, Anglagarde wandered through long, aimless tunes that nonetheless included inventive performances by individual members.

Other bands were more specifically derivative of music from the genre's heyday, part Yes-spaciness, part Jethro Tull medieval. The Pennsylvania-based quintet Echolyn--set to release their major-label debut on Epic next year--performed music that was at times truly dramatic, and at other moments just virtuosity without end or purpose. A lesser version of the same was the band Kalaban from Utah.

These weren't old players who have been passed by time and fashion, but musicians in their 20s and 30s who perhaps first heard the originals back in junior high school, and for whom the names Cobain and Snoop may mean nothing at all.

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