Diary of the participation of the Locanda delle Fate to the 2013 Convention Prog Résiste, 27-28 April, Soignies - Belgium
1100 km cutting France from south to north, slipping with a van full of instruments followed by a car with musicians on highways stroked by endless rains unleashed by a Jupiter pluvio still angry with the already defeated Gauls by the legions of Caesar, among Atlantic clouds accumulate on the spring’s green heathland and beneath a sky with a lowered visor, stubbornly refused to let in even a hint of blue...
Last Friday, the alarm rung early to the innkeepers of Locanda, in order to be ready at 8 for the loading of their instruments and luggages on the van, than headed to the auto route at the east entrance of Asti, bounded to Frejus. Up there in Belgium, in Soignies, a southern suburb of Brussels, we have to attend at the Prog Résiste Convention, the annual festival organized by the homonymous, famous Belgian association that dedicates to Prog a musical revue and a radio program, "Le labhyrint du Prog".
Switzerland is expected to file paperwork for its crossing with the instruments, so, having to choose between the frying pan and the fire, rather than being subject to stamped papers and vignette we decide to be bled by the exorbitant and insatiable French motorway companies.
Toward the darkness, overcome by fatigue of the journey and hungry, the horned sign of a Buffalo Grill which suddenly materializes through the rain of Laon appears to us like a mirage, more or less the same mirage of the silhouette of San Salvador as appeared to the exhausted and unbelieving sailors of Columbus...
"A mug of cold beer, a huge steak and a lot of fries ...": here we are dealing with an order so many times we have heard making (or rather, read making) by Tex Willer ( an italian comics hero) and his pards in a saloon at the end of a hard ride under the scorching sun of the desert in pursuit of Mephisto , or some other outlaw like him. Well, nothing’s French there, but you give up willingly to nouvelle cuisine and its deceptions for a better suited to remove hunger, economic and harmless grilled meat. The place is crowded, the atmosphere is nice, the food more than acceptable and suddenly part of the accumulated stress seems to disappear. Once got out, even the rain gives us a break. Around midnight, exhausted but fed, we enter our hotel lobby.
The convention is divided into two days, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April, with several European bands. They asked us and the Swedes Anglagard to close the first half time. An ideal continuation of the BajaProg, where we shared the Mexican stage in early April. We should play one on Saturday, the other one on Sunday, but neither of us being able to manage it on Sunday, we are both shoulder to shoulder the first day.
On Saturday morning, at 11, we have a look to the stage at 'Espace Culturel Victor Jara”, a modern theater, very functional. Four groups in the program: besides us and the Swedes Anglagard there are Belgians Madelgaire and Spaniards Kotebel. It’s'planned for the stage change just one hour, not more. It seems impossible to do it since all the prog bands have a huge instrumental complexity.
As soon as the Kotebel end their performance, we rush on stage to fix the instruments, while the audience moves in the lobby where, alongside a bar and restaurant where among other things they serve a great onion soup and a great sampling of the most typical local beers and make interviews to the bands just off the stage. There are also several tables where they sell the merchandise of the bands, chatting, swapping vinyls and CD of Prog’s universe.
Giorgio put in place his drums, later even borrowed by Anglagard’s drummer. That’s a job that takes more time: everybody tries to helps him. Oscar switches on his keyboards and shudders: his Hammond does not work! The short message that appears on the display "error panel not connected" is a sentence without appeal: nothing to do! Oscar tries to set the missing sounds he needs on the other two keyboards. Our sound engineers, Paolo and Vincenzo Penna, are involved in a desperate rush against time. With only 10 minutes of delay we are ready and go. After the first notes the audience crowding the theater let us to feel their warmness and the 90 minutes of our gig run smooth. At the end, the applause and the final standing ovation makes us want to hug them all, one by one.
Then the interview. Questions focused, precise, you feel that are made by competent people. The organizers are exquisite, ever-present for each of our smallest needs. The audience is the most passionate and knowledgeable you can imagine. Really good ones, the people of Prog Résiste organisation. They deserve the great success they have among the connoisseurs of Prog, which rightly consider their convention as one of the most accredited European Prog festivals. Due to its success, maybe they might even change its name: Il Prog (R) esiste!