June 27th-28th Bay Area Rock Fest in San Fransisco@ The Independant
My friend Taylor has more than once turned me onto Prog/Power bands that are out there and Fest’s that they play at. He told me about the Barfest in San Fransisco that his friend Bear has helped promote for the last two years and that he was going in June. So I talked to Bear and told him about my photography skills and he said come on up and shoot the show! I was really excited to say the least. I really didnt know many of the bands on the bill but I did get turned onto Darkwater from Sweden from a CD that Lance “The Prog/Power” King gave me at PP8.
There were to be eight bands in total playing over two days and for a few of them it was their first US debut. Suncaged from the Netherlands, Darkwater from Sweden and Concerto Moon from Japan, was their first time playing on American soil. The rest was made up of Zero Hour and Enchant from the bay Area and Jeff Scott Soto of Yngwie Malmsteen fame and a short stint with Journey. Then there was the Rocket Scientists from Europe, that have Lana Lane and Eric Norlander of Ayreon fame. The last and biggest band there was Liquid Tension Experiment which features Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci , virtuoso keyboardist Jordan Rudess and bass legend Tony Levin.
The BARFest 1 started out in 07 with Dave Hatchell, Eric Boles and Bear Marks promoting all kinds of Prog,Rock, and metal bands that they could round up to play a fest in the Bay Area. The first years fest included: Headlining, Jon Oliva’s Pain and Spocks Beard, then US debut of Mob Rules and Eyefear, the return of Crimson Glory, Lance King’s Balance of Power and Timeline. The fest was such a success that they decided to do BARFest 2 in 08.
So me and Tay got our plane tix and flew up to Frisco and stayed with his old buddy Scott. He was a very grascious host and drove us around the whole trip. Thanks man!!
When we got to the venue, The Independant, the first thing that we did was find Bear and he hooked all three of us up with All Access passes and told us we would have to do Bar B Q duty in the back of the venue outside….there was literally tons of meat to cook and who else was out there but Gregg whom I met through Christian at Symphony X and Maiden. Was good to see him. So the guys dug into all that meat and started cookin like mad dogs when I saw Squeek, who is also a concert photog that I know and have seen at many shows all over the place. She is amazing too! The barfest backyard barb B Q bunch!
So Bear intoduced me to a bunch of peeps including Dave and Eric and then it was onto chatting with a band I never heard of from Japan, Concerto Moon. I started off my day with a impromtu interview with them and another japanese guy who was not only their interpreter, but was also doing interviews with them and putting it on a podcast of his. I did my first Japanese translated interview and it was a blast. It was also easier then I thought it would be. They were very nice and smilely guys that were just happy to be there.
After munching on some killer BBQ Chicken we went in to see Concerto Moon do their sound check and I was excited to see these guys perform after that later in the evening. They were first up on Fri nite and I think they were the most upbeat and exciting band of the nite.
These guys freakin rocked with their brand of serious power metal! I really enjoyed rocking out to them. Their singer just was killer and the guitarist was amazing!
After that I got to hang out in the Rocket Scientists dressing room and chat with Eric Norlander and Lana Lane about their time with Ayreon (not a good subject!!) and what was in store for them in the future. They were really sweet and Eric loved to talk about all the future stuff that was happening with him joining forces with ASIA. Should be a killer combo…this guy is an immesely talented keyboardist and a really cool guy. I also chatted with Jay Schellen who was in Hurricane but now was in the Rocket Scientists. I met him years ago….same sweet guy and smokin drummer!
Lana said she was vocally trained by a person that trained Eric Martin so she wanted to meet him…and she did!
This band was a total trip for me. They are more space/ prog/rock that is on the vein of Pink Floyd and I really liked them but wanted a place to lie down and listen instead of standing…it was that relaxing. Lana is a gifted singer and has a very cool stage presence.
After that Enchant went on and since they are from the Bay Area most people there knew them. It was my first time hearing them and they are wonderfully talented…just a little too slow for me. I was really ready for a nap after that…not that they arnt great. I just like to rock out at a concert…this is NOT that kind of concert.
I was also lucky to get to interview the talented Jeff Scott Soto. The guy has been around for years and played with many bands like Yngwie and Journey and I heard some amazing covers of Queen that they guy has done. He is brilliant!! Oh yeah and he was one of the singers on the ROCK STAR movie soundtrack and sand Stand Up and Shout later in the evening!! That RAWKED!
Jeff was joined onstage by Dave Meniketti and Phil from Y&T and Eric Martin of Mr. Big!!
Backstage with Jeff Scott Soto with Phil and Dave Meneketti from Y&T and Eric Martin of Mr. Big!!
Jeff Scott Soto live really rocked the place and woke us up with a variety if music from his repetoire. He played Rock,Regge,Disco(I guess he was in Boogie Nites) and then did the kick ass stuff from Rock Star!!! That was a blast! I really enjoyed this guys set and he is playing in Vegas with the Sin City Sinners Sept 30th at the Dive Bar!!
After all that fun I passed out in Scotts truck as we drove back to his house like an hour away…what a first day!!
The second day which was sat was really exciting for me. It was the Debut of DARKWATER, the band that I was anticipating the most on this bill and they were to play first.
The first thing that happened when we got to the venue was we were being told we had to leave during LTE’s soundcheck. So me and Squeek had the idea of taking the bands that were there to go do a photo shoot at the beautiful park around the corner. It was her idea to take one band, my idea was to take them all. That was fun getting Zero Hour, Darkwater and Suncaged to walk a block up to the park in the cold. So off we went, about 20 rockers walking in a line down the street to a park. It was a nice day but chilly and the guys that were from Europe were in disbelief that it was so cold here in America in June…thats the bay Area for you. So we got some sweet shots of them with the SF skyline behind them and all in their groups for band shoots. All the guys were so sweet and fun and just having a total blast!
Getting three bands together for a photo-shoot in the park by the venue!! Almost impossible
but we did it!!! : ) It was fun, fun!!
So we get back and just hang out for a bit and then it was already time for Darkwater to go on….
The crowd was all excited and there was anticipation in the air and BAM! Out come my new buds from Sweden,Darkwater!!! They put on a killer set with all my fave songs off their debut,Calling the Earth to Witness. They were as tight as a band can be and Henrik is one of my fave singers out there!! I LOVED “Tallest Tree” and “Again“! These guys should be the next big PP band out there and Henrik and a couple of the other guys have another band called Harmony that has a cd coming out soon also.
My fave band there: Darkwater Live!!
Then after that came the killer Prog/Thrash/Metal band from the Netherlands, Suncaged. I
really liked these guys and they do seriously kick some ass especially Marcel Coenen, there virtuostic guitarist!!
Another heavy-ass band from the Bay Area Zero Hour played next and my two new buds, and twin brothers,Jasun Tipton -Guitar and Troy Tipton-bass, really rocked my socks off with their thrashy brand of prog-metal!!! These guys were on fire and they were smoking hot onstage!!! I loved their energy and talent!
It was hard to come down after the Zero Hour set, but it was time for me to come down hard. Next up was Liquid Tension Experiment. Everyone knows I am not a big Dream Theater fan and not a huge proggy girl. So I was skeptical from the get go. When these extremely talented group of musicians got onstage the crowd went wild. These are die-hard DT fans and they were ready for a prog/rock onslaught that was LTE. It is mostly if not all instrumental. That is another thing that is not my cup of tea…but these guys were tight and wicked on their instruments. Tony Levin played his Bass/Stick, like a madman and John Petrucci just kept throwing out the solo’s. Of course there is Mike Portnoy that is one of the greatest drummers in the world of prog and he showed it. Jordon Rudess was a master on the keys as they circled around and round on a pedestal. They guys were sick as hell….
But after like one hour of this madness I was ready to pass out and it to me is a pure show-off fest and after 2 hours…it got old to me. I was done…toast. Not that it wasnt killer…just not my thing.
We all got to meet the band after the show/spectacle and my good friend Tay just happened to say to Mike when I was getting his autograph…”This from a girl that hates DT!!!” I was so mortified!! It was so cool though as Mike said…”Hey they bore me sometimes too!!” : ) lol
So then there was the story of “The Beard”. Mike put one of the beards he cut off on his site to sell to a fan and one of Tay and Scott’s friends bought it..( he got all kinds of other goodies with it) and the Beard traveled all over the country to DT gigs and people always got their photos with it. They even went on a page on the internet. He then got another one sent to him by Mike the next year and to make a long story short..he lost them to the Texas PD that thought it was “something” else…They got confiscated. So the guys told Mike this and he, at the end of the show that nite, got John to cut off his beard and then he gave it to Taylor. It was a really cool moment for the guy and I almost forgave him for the comment (like I wouldnt…)
I had a total blast at this fest and I want to thank the guys who threw it..Dave, Eric and Bear and thanks to them for all the access and allowing me to be a fly on the wall at one of the newest fests on the west coast!! I hope to go to many more!!! Thanks also to all the bands for being so kind with me, letting me shoot them and ask them all kinds of dumb questions since I didnt even know most of them. I made some kewl friends there that I still chat with and I appreciate everything!!! And thanks to Taylor for turning me onto yet another killer fest and to Scott and his wife that put us up in their house!!!
Bay Area Rock Fest rules!!!