Fan Reviews of CalProg 2005

The following are posts from a thread on Progressive Ears dot com from people who attended CalProg 2005. Some “personal” stories were edited out, but everything having to do with the bands is intact and unedited. I hope you find this feedback useful.

I was there with our table in the back room, met a lot of very nice people, sold a lot of music (thanks folks). Let's see, this is how the show went for me:

Spiraling - great surprise, really enjoyed their set, I had forgotten who Tom Birslan was until after they played.

Bubblemath - very entertaining show, the music was a bit out there for me overall, but fun to watch. Bass player has this massive 7 string bass.

Tiles - Not really my cup of tea, didn't care for it at calprog or rosfest particularly

IZZ - they are always tight and entertaining, but I've seen them so much now that it wasn't holding my interest a whole lot.

Sadler & Friends - this was great, I enjoyed the heck out of it. Michael flew in Ian Crichton as a surprise, and they were just hanging out and talking to everyone and doing pictures and just generally being nice.

Flower Kings - very tight, I don't know who was singing and playing left handed guitar, I missed the beginning and end of their set or whatever point they introduced him, but he was really good. Bodin was entertaining. I think maybe Roine wasn't feeling well since I never saw him except on stage and he was pretty subdued.

For next year I'd love to see bands that didn't play this year or are playing another fest in the same year. I'd love to see Saga as a headliner, the rumor is that their old management had been keeping them out of the US the last 15 or so years, and they have now replaced him and are keen on playing the US again.


Fantastic. Great time. Great music.

Day started with Spiraling, good start to the festival, not too progressive but great cover of Soundchaser.

Bubblemath. I could not stand. Cover of The Knife was the only thing I liked. Enough said.

Tiles. Fantastic. I was really looking forward to these guys and they were great.

Izz. Great performance, despite some health problems it seemed. And oh my god, how beautiful is the dark haired female singer (sorry I am a red blooded male). Drop dead gorgeous, beautiful voice.

The Flower Kings. God like. Second time I've seen them, they are just fantastic, I loved every minute. The guitar player was an absolute treat.

Venue was great, people were great, timing was pretty good. Can't wait till next year.


Spiraling - didn't care for them. More power pop than progressive.

Bubblemath - the best band of the show! They played a set of super complex, stop on a dime, extremely well played music with a great sense of humor! These guys are right up my alley. I've liked them since their first CD came out.

Tiles - I'm not a Rush fan, so a second rate Rush does nothing for me.

Izz - this is the 3rd time I've seen them and they get better each time. The new stuff sounded great. And they tackled "Close to the Edge" (the whole freaking thing!) as their cover! After some intitial ruffspots, they played the hell out of it! The dual female vocals wher chill inducing.

Flower Kings - they played a great set. They did a very good selection from most of their CD's.They did the "Soon" section from "Gates of Delirium". Hasse Froberg's vocals were incredible on this. They played a little too long for the end of a long day.

I missed Michael Sadler, unfortunatley.


I enjoyed all the bands, though I must confess that I wasn't that enthralled by Tiles. They haven't yet clicked with me. My 11 year old (Trevor) said it best without any prompting..."they sound exactly like Rush". However, my 7 year old (Ian) wants copies of the two CDs by them in my collection for his MP3 player, so they made a new fan there..."dad, this band rocks!" [then he threw the horns].

Bubblemath's set was spoiled by too much volume [the only band that required earplugs]. A great deal of the subtlety in their quirky music was squashed by the volume. I didn't care for their take on "The Knife" (but my sons loved it, so what do I know). I rate the 2nd album's material much higher than the debut, FWIW.

Izz was sharp and professional, and once again showed that angelic-voiced women can add enormously to a prog rock band's sound. It took a lot of nad to tackle "Close to The Edge" and for the most part they pulled it off after a shaky start. The material for their upcoming album was A+ IMO. Their soundmix was crystal clear. Easily the best of all the bands.

Flower Kings were what I'd expect, both good and bad. They really are a consummately pro flonkus outfit, at the top of their game, but they do go on a bit and a good deal of their material has the same texture. But I bought their last two albums at the request of my youngest son, who dug them enormously (the oldest boy slept through most of their set). The soundmix was very good, though it started muddy, and towards the end required earplugs.

Best bet for me was Spiraling. Sure they're pop-prog, but they have a very cool almost-punk approach to prog, a brash enthusiasm, and a sense of humour. Plus they earned big points for a very fine take on "Sound Chaser" of all tunes! They also were the band my two boys enjoyed the most, since they were the closest to straightforward rock. A great way to get the show started.

On the way home KLOS announced prices for Paul McCartney's concert in LA. The cheapest seats were over $100; the most expensive over $2K. So it puts a day-long prog festival in perspective at $65 per seat.



Everyone will have a different opinion here. I really was surprised by Spiraling and they flat out nailed Sound Chaser. Say what you will these guys are part of the Porcupine, Radiohead, Mars Volta part of prog played by young musicians that will keep some of this stuff alive for the next generation. I think they played very well the drummer uses a full kit and loved the textures and harmonies they created. I liked them and would go see them again.
If you're looking for difficult prog music check out Bubblemath. I know so many tech freaks will love them. People who like Gentle Giant and Zappa would do well by these guys. I loved their stage show and Humor. The Knife was a total surprise and I think they should leave it in their set. It works for them.

Ok so am I the only one who thinks tiles has an incredible set of musicians in the drummer, bass and guitarist They absolutely smoked. Pat DeLeon is a monster on the kit and Jeff Whittle is monster bass player. Chris Herin is great on guitar although could have been a bit more up in the mix. On top of it they are great people. Their cover of Rush's THE TEMPLE OF SYRINX was perfect. Not to mention their sense of humor "I've got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell!"

Izz stole the show for me. I have so much to assimilate from them. I think their music is almost perfect. I have to listen to it so much more. So rich and deep and then the three songs from the not yet released CD, well, get ready people the best of IZZ is in the future. Oh yeah what was their little cover tune? That's Right Close to Edge in it's entirety even with technical difficulties and illness had me almost in tears. Fantastic people too. Brian, John, Greg, Tom, Laura, Paul and Annmarie enjoyed every second with you guys. Hope some of you get to BB Kings on July 5th to see Proto-kaw when Stacy and I are in New York .

Flower Kings are overwhelming in the Quantity and quality of their music. Stunning is too slight a word for their set.

For all the great people we met both from PE and other boards and at the festival. It was a great day. To the staff and the Jim Harrel Great job and we will be back for next year. Just a great vibe all around that place.


I'm still trying to recover from the magical weekend that was CalProg. Melissa, glad you made it home ok, it was great to meet you. Eric, great guy, lovely wife, fun to hang with you too. John, nice to meet you and tap some of that knowledge you have. And Brian, you guys blew me away, biggest surprise of the night for me. Can't wait for the new record... Ahh those 20+ minute epics, gotta love em! Great to meet and talk to you Friday night and Saturday. I know I met lots more, just can't remember them all.

Spiraling What a way to start the day!! Led by a very charismatic and energentic Tom Brislin, these guys captured my attention right away. Call it prog pop if you'd like, but they certainly can pull it off. Very entertaining tunes such as "A Face For Radio" "Ah Sugar" and "Transmitter". They covered "Sound Chaser" even though Tom said that Jon Anderson told him they were "mad" for trying. They did it and quite well I must say. Guitarist Marty O'Kane absolutely shined on this one.
These guys all look like they have a couple of years in high school left, so i know their future is long and promising.

Bubblemath Great musicians, wildly entertaining, (that "freeze frame" bit was amazing) but a bit over the top for my tastes. I guess I'm just a little old school in my musical structures and likes. Still, Zappa would be proud.

Tiles A progressive "power trio" (+vocalist) if you'd like, I think Pat stole the show, too bad he's leaving the band. Very tight and solid musically, but I kept waiting for the guitarist to blast some screaming solos and it never really happened. The few solos he did take were outstanding, I just wanted more of it. It will be interesting to see what happens after Pat's departure.

Izz I'll steal a quote from the official program... "What can I say about these guys but WOW!".... I didn't expect to see this caliber of songwriting, pure outstanding musicianship, and mesmerizing stage performances until Roine and the boys took the stage. Every aspect of this band is top notch, not one tune I didn't like. Tom was suffering from sort of cold, but man what can this guy do when he's 100% healthly?? Some of the finest guitar work I've seen in quite a while too. They nailed the dual percussion sound perfectly. I urge everyone to check out Izz if you haven't already! Oh yeah, the cover. Despite some technical difficulties at the start, Close To The Edge was fantastic.. The ladies did a magnificent job on this one!! And yes, Laura was nice to look at too. The new 20+ minute tune from the upcoming record sounds like a masterpiece, I just can't remember the name of it... Again, just an awesome performance!

The Flower Kings Having raved about some earlier performances, when TFK hit the stage I knew we were now on another level. I could FEEL it in the crowd and I could FEEL it inside of me. The Masters of progressive music did not disappoint, this is what it is all about. I thought Roine's playing sounded emotional on record, seeing it live was breathtaking. How could ANYONE who enjoys this "progressive" music we all listen to not appreciate and admire what this band has done for this genre. Hasse sang and played with all the emotion he was capable of giving that night and even Jonas with his keen sense of humor touched us with the solo dedicated to his new daughter. Tomas, brilliant a usual, and my hat's off to the new drummer (who's name escapes me.. Marcus I think) who was stunning.
When they were done at 12:45 AM and I had started this day with Spiraling at 11:00AM , I felt ready for hours more.....I did NOT what these guys to stop.
Sincere appreciation to Papa Jim and the whole crew for puttting on a wonderful show!!!

A little later for Mr. Sadler's dinner show.......


I'll make a longer post later, but I just wanted to add a couple of short comments.

For those of you that didn't attend, the reason it took people a while to start posting about it is physical and emotional exaustion. Its like a music marathon. The doors opened at 10:30am , and I'd say 3/4 of the people were there for the first note of the first band (and man they kicked ass!). At 12:30am only about 30 seats were empty. NEVER underestimate the endurance capability of a prog fan!

Second, it is very interesting to see that everyone has a different take on who the highlights and lowlights were. One post says "this band was the weakest act of the day" and then another comes back and says "they were the best of the day". That is exactly what I was hoping for in the lineup. Enough diversity to appeal to every taste, yet enough commonality to have many people like them all. No matter what your taste, I think that everyone would agree that every band was filled with top notch musicians. The technical prowess was just amazing. And without exception everyone that performed made themselves available to the audience extensively. I loved the warm vibe of the entire event from preshow to teardown. Thanks to everyone!

OK, maybe this WAS my long post afterall. :o)

Spiraling are more like a 21st century version of The Cars, just not as pop and with more overtly widdly chops. Also much funnier, and perhaps darker. Brislin is a very good songwriter. Spiraling have the chops to take one of the most complex tunes in the Yes canon in stride, and do it without a sweat, but choose to play a punky, goofy, infectious, brand of alternaprog/powerpop. As long as you're OK with that when you buy then you should be very pleased. I am.


I must admit I was mainly interested in Izz and Flower Kings. Both bands fully met my expectations. The other three were good in their own way, just not bands I'd rush out to buy. Not meant as a knock on them. Having said that, I did buy the Spiraling album, and got it signed by the band. I suspect that they may go on to a larger audience beyond prog, so the disc might have Ebay value in a few years. Fun, but lightweight, proggy alternative-rock.

ProgRock Records had a very nice display of wares. I dropped a chunk of change there, with the K2 album being the prize pickup. Ken Jacquess came by later and mentioned that he's trying to put together a K2 lineup to gig, and take on the road. Early days for those plans, but it would be cool if he can do it.

There were belly dancers? Damn! I missed them. Oh well. Maybe next year PapaJim will invite Azigza, and they can have the belly dancers work with them!

Another fantabulous job by Papa J and crew...I'm already counting the days until next year.

Spiraling...what a nice surprise. I heard some song samples before and thought they would really be a cars clone, but they kicked it to a new level for me hearing them live. Soundchaser blessed by his royal Airyness JA was just a big bonus treat (Since Yes doesn't have the bocces to play it live, I'm glad Tom and crew could do it justice!

Bubblemath...interesting (if I could make out the words he was singing, maybe I would have gotten the humor...but I did like the song (Can't We All Just ) Get a Lawn.

Tiles... so so...a bit non-distinct. Drummer was an absolute monster and dominated the rest of the band...if they ever decide to drop the singer and become an instrumental band, I might be interested. (Not that he can't sing, he can...but somewhat generic).

IZZ...God, I just love these guys.

Flower Kings. I enjoyed them, I really did, but Roine Stolt never met a 3 minute song he couldn't turn into a 30 minute song. Maybe it was the exhaustion talking but towards the end, it seemed like everything started sounding the same...but can Roine play!

Anyway...another great day of music!

What an amazing weekend. Thank you to Papa J for allowing me to be a part of this event. It really was a lot of fun. All of the bands were amazing and friendly. Special thanks to my friends from Spiraling for being so kind and making the entire day so enjoyable for my daughter Anna, who attended to their merchandise table. Tom, Bob, Marty and Paul, see you guys on your next swing through Chicago ! Great seeing the IZZ family again as well. Hopefully Magog is still working on bringing you guys here as well ;-) Can't wait for "My River Flows", it's sure to be spectacular.


Relatively rare poster here. I've been lurking on this board for a while, but now that summer's here I'm planning on actively posting. I'm just 18 years old and may have been the youngest guy there that went alone. Some of you probably saw me wearing my System of a Down shirt, and my hair gained me the nickname "mini-stolt". Now for my young fan's review of my second prog concert.

My ears have just barely stopped ringing from the all day musical marathon of Cal Prog Day, and that concert festival just may have been one of the highlights of this year. With a lineup of Spiraling, Bubblemath, Tiles, Izz, and The Flower Kings, I was more than willing to be surprised. They delivered in spades.

Spiraling I only knew as "that band with that one guy who played with Yes at one point", but these guys rocked the place with some of the catchiest art-pop I've heard. Both their studio album and their EP are now mine. "Transmission", "The Connection", the one-two punch of " Texas is the Reason" and "You can't get There", and the amazing cover of Yes's "Soundchaser" marked a kickass set and a fitting opening band.

One thing about the between sets. The first two breaks featured bellydancers on the sidestage. Now I know what some of you are thinking, but the answer is they were old and overweight. Robert and I just couldn't stop laughing whenever we saw them. Gah! I browsed the merchandise stands instead, and met most of the bands too.

Bubblemath. I had only heard the one sample song, "Be Together", but all signs pointed to this band being the surprise hit, and they smoked! The loudest and most complicated group there also performed some of the catchiest songs. "Be Together" really rocks live, particularly the ending section, where the two vocal melodies collide and speed up, with outstanding drumming. The band assured me the next album will come out by December, and the guys were very social and quite hilarious.

Tiles. By the time this band were on their second song, I knew that there cover song had to be by Rush, and I was proven right. The singer looked and sounded strangely like Geddy Lee and the overall sound captured Rush, but not its spirit. Many of the songs sounded uninspired and bland. Until the instrumental sections. When the singer commented something like "It's a wonder they keep me in the band," I agreed. It's not so much his voice, but the music during the vocal sections just doesn't quite strike me. The cover of 2112 highlighted the set, but there were plenty of mistakes made and they didn't capture what makes Rush special. The low point of the day, but that's not saying much. The drummer was some showman though.

But then came Izz, the surprise from last year's show, with great new material. A 20 minute masterpiece called "Deafening Silence" and I knew I had to grab their next album, due this summer. This band has arrived. The guitarist took a bunch of solos and the two female backup singers frequently took the lead, giving the band four distinct voices. The new stuff greatly outclasses their old material. A stunning cover of "Close to the Edge" marked the second Yes cover of the day, though plagued by technical difficulties as the start. Another group that smokes live.

Then the side stage came, and Michael Sadler of Saga showed what he and his friends could do. Some great accoustic numbers, and a breather before the headliners. "The Carpet Crawlers" and "More Fool Me", both by Genesis, were covered and I believe that was the first time that "More Fool Me" was applauded anywhere. Some songs from the Paul Henning projects closed out the set.

Then came the headliners, the mighty Flower Kings. Opening with "Compassion" allowed for mix adjustments that paid off. "Love Supreme", "Cosmic Circus / Drum solo / Babylon " and "Vampire's View" from the latest album sounded better live, but I missed Daniel Gildenlow's voice. Vampire's is pretty much his song, written for his voice, but Roine and Hasse pulled it off. A great set all around, but nothing before "Stardust We Are" was played and "Flower Power" was left out completely. They cut out the best part of "I am the Sun" but their cover of "Soon" by (you guessed it) Yes was filled with emotion. Roine's guitar and singing were spot on, Tomas Bodin's keys were just as good live, Jonas's bass rocked, and the new drummer, Marcus, fit right in. But Hasse was on another level. Always underapreciated on cd, but live he showed how essential to the sound he really is. The group was very courteous after the show. Tomas invited me to email him my thoughts about his new album, and Hasse and I joked about having them fly back over for a birthday party.

Not bad for my second prog concert.


Progfest: Loved it!! Unfortunately I only caught two bands: Tiles and Izz (which is the band I really wanted to see). This is my 2nd progfest, my fiancee's 1st (she really loved it and has already requested going next year... woohoo!!).

I really enjoyed Tiles, unfortunately it seems others didn't but hey, I was lucky to get something out of it. We were both really blown away by the charisma and showmanship of Tiles drummer -man, talk about a formidable drummer. Don't get me wrong, the entire band was awesome, but Pat DeLeon stood out. Enjoyed the heaviness and voicings in the bands material -by the opening track, I was pretty well hooked. The Rush influences were pretty evident, yet they offered some very intriguing originality.

I was a little perplexed with Izz, I wasn't sure what to expect from them, nor did I have expectations, but they didn't hit me right; I sorta ran cold with the 1st two tracks. What brought me to life however, was the track "Deafening Silence" -engaging, pastoral and impressionistic. The newer material, I felt was a bit more beguiling, and of course, the real treat "Close to the Edge" won me over. A little awkward at times, but definitely scored an "A". Again, a very nice treat.

All in all, it was great. I felt Izz's sound didn't work in their favour (there was repeated 60hz hum through the bass cab that if not creating dissonance, distraction) and maybe this contributed to my "running cold" with them, but I'll definitely be buying the upcoming release.

Thanks to all who worked so hard to present such a special gift out here on the west coast and all the fans for generally being very cool and down to earth. Until next year, take care and God bless!


Okay, photos are posted in the Photos section! I apologize for a bit of blurriness...this is a new digital camera and I'm still getting the hang of it. Also, my computer is acting screwy...what else is new? (Gateway sucks!)...and I was not able to open my regular editing program, so I had to use another, less effective program. Also, I am not able to size them specifically like I normally can with the other program.

Okay, so here's my review:

Spiraling: Wow, Tom Brislin blew me away! I did not know what to expect from this band, but I never even knew Tom could sing! Like most of you, I only knew him from the Yes - Symphonic tour. Spiraling's music definitely has punk/alternative influences, but Brislin's excellent keyboard playing keeps it proggy. These guys are fresh and exciting musicians, and they are very friendly, too. They hung out at their vendor table all day and night and chatted with anyone who approached them! I have added their CD to my list and will purchase it when my finances allow.

Bubblemath - Excellent musicians and entertainers, but their style of music is not my style. Still, I enjoyed their show. They were a fun surprise.

Tiles - I was waiting for these guys and they did not disappoint me at all! They brought the metal edge to this festival and I enjoyed their set thoroughly. Their energy was fresh and vibrant, and Paul's voice blew me away! I can't wait to collect their entire CD catalog when I am able to! Pat (the drummer) and Jeff (bass) are two of the nicest guys I've ever met, and it was fun to hang out with them late on Friday night/early Saturday. Jeff tells great jokes...not! LOL! Naw, he was funny. Pat will be missed, and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. By the way, I considered them my favorite act of the festival!!!

Izz - Unfortunately, I missed these guys. Sorry, Brian, that I didn't approach your table. I was incredibly sleepy/tired and badly needed to rest my eyes because I had a long drive ahead of me early Sunday morning. If I had to choose any act to miss, I had to choose yours, and I apologize sincerely. I know I will catch you guys sometime in the future. I did catch you guys right before your cover of Close To the Edge, which absolutely blew me away! Good job!

Mike Sadler - He was a bit on the mellow side for me, so I did I lot of wandering around and chatting with folks during his set. I did often come out to listen for awhile, but he really didn't capture my interest very much. (Sorry Sadler fans)

The Flower Kings - Wow...this was the band I had come so far to see! I was so thrilled to finally catch them. Their music captured me and took me away (much like a Calgon bath...LOL! ) In all seriousness, though, I was very pleased with their set. They played for over two hours!!! I was only disappointed in their cover of Soon. That song is too simple. TFK has the talent to have done something much more complicated. Overall, though, they were my second favorite act of the day.

The music was everything I expected for this festival, and PapaJ was smart in choosing such a diverse line-up. There was no band that I disliked, even if a couple of them were not my cup of tea. There was something for everyone, and I hope to see a similar situation next year.

To my fellow was sooo good to meet you all!