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   HEADWAY FESTIVAL 2004
Daniel with Troy of Death Machine © Christopher 'Haplo'
Ranschaert P60 - Amstelveen (NL)
April 3rd-4th 2004

http://www.headwayfestival.com

This second edition the progressive Headway festival was again on mine and Nico's list. This year we ran into some health problems though, like me getting a migraine attack on the first day. It resulted in us only attending one day, and me hardly able to write a review because I had only seen a little bit of each band.
Lucky for us our friend Daniel Klein was also there and he wrote a (his words) "very subjective, honest, brutal and explicit" report. We got Daniel on board and so here's the man's great and humerous work! Nico's live pics of the first day are supplemented by several pics of Daniel and his friends, hold your mouse on the pic to see the copyrights, as usual. (Marlies)

DAY ONE
Short summary: Best day of any festival I've ever seen. Ever.

Xenobia © Nico Wobben I hadn't heard ANYTHING from XENOBIA before. Their music is definitely progressive, you can feel the spark of them having fun doing what they're doing on the stage and that already means a lot. There's a guitar, a bass, drums and a violinist. The guitar player also sang like three words, but it would have been better had he not. Seriously, he was hardly even singing, and you could feel how they turned down the complexity just so a vocal line would fit the song at that point, totally breaking the song in my opinion. They should remain completely instrumental or find a singer who can compete with their technical levels. I realize being an instrumental band is kinda hard, because who listens to instrumental music anyway? The songs were totally awesome, the music absolutely lovely and progressive. My other little bone that I have to pick with the band is the violinist. While I greatly welcome the idea of adding a violin to progmetal and mostly like the effect, I believe that the violin is both heavily underused in their music and the violin player probably their weakest link, skill-wise. I'll just blame it on stagefright for now and wait until I've heard their album/demo stuff. She was also cute enough that I probably wouldn't have told her into her face what I thought of her playing. It wasn't *BAD* as such, don't get me wrong, but a) there was way too little, normally maybe a three or four note melody that repeated over and over throughout the song, which is a gross underusage of the violin and b) there were some plain mistakes that even I noticed. I don't know if there was a break in the harmony between the violin and the guitar or if the harmonies she played on the violin now and then were flawed in themselves, but there were a few rare parts that made me gringe with disharmonies.
By all means, don't get me wrong. I liked the band a LOT. They kicked ass. For the most part, the violin playing was great too. I just think it will need a lot more work before it really works. Both because of the violinist's skill and because of the way it is worked into the music. Xenobia show GREAT promise.. they're all very young people still and so I believe that with more dedication and playing, they are a band to look out for. Plus the drummer was REALLY having fun :P

Textures © Nico Wobben Hey cool, they got Meshuggah to play! ... waaaait. TEXTURES is not the name of a band. Textures is the name of an acoustic phenomenom. Loud. Tight. Strong. Agressive. Did I mention loud? Textures play what my friends decided is "Tactical Heavy Assault Metal". I can only agree. The band was so tightly together it was a joy to listen to them. My neck wasn't very happy. Definitely one of the two highlights of the festival for me. Fucking brutal kickass rhythmic complex progressive metal. Wonderful stage presence of the shouter/grunter as well. All in all DEFINITELY a band to watch out for. Mr. Kite © Nico Wobben

MR. KITE... This isn't really my thing. I left the concert after three songs, so it would be unfair to give any kind of review of them. My first impression though was that of rather bland and boring rockish metal music. One must mention that their guitarist got sick very shortly before they played here and couldn't be there, so they had to rehearse all the stuff with their former guitarist.

Death Machine © Nico Wobben If you've listened to the DEATH MACHINE album, forget you've listened to the Death Machine album. If you can, you must see them live to believe the energy, the music, the feeling. Troy, normally quite a friendly and peaceful character on stage during Zero Hour shows, was the FUCKING devil. That he only killed 15 people during the concert can be considered harmless. I think there were the same notes, rhythms, riffs and words as I've listened to on the album, but it wasn't the same music at ALL. It was .. different. Stronger. Louder. More rhythmic. More Zero Hourish. More insane. This is a band that really is a live band in the truest meaning of the word. They need to be enjoyed live. I had been warned that they would play an instrumental from the new Zero Hour and indeed there might have been a period of time during which there was no singing, but really, don't ask me what it was like. I was fortunate that I could tell what direction the stage was through my thick haze of bloodlust and ecstasy. Best concert of the festival, in my opinion. And let me assure you that the fact that I've been bribed with a red cape and other horny pieces of garment has nothing to do with that opinion. The Tiptons killed.

Laberinto © Nico Wobben LABERINTO had a shitty sound in the beginning - you couldn't hear the percussion at ALL for the first three songs or so. And by percussion I don't mean the drums, I mean the DRUMS. I mean. These other drums. The authentic bits. The southamerican shit they combine with their music. As soon as those kicked in though, it was INCREDIBLY good. The music was at once danceable and headbangable. And since I'm a girl, I danced my ass off. Another bad point was that the singer insisted on having a moshpit in front of him. Hello, Mister, this is a progressive metal festival. Us people are the crème de la crème of metal fans, we are intellectuals. You can count your blessings we're not watching you from armchairs. Which is something I may do at this year's ProgPower by the way. But seriously, a moshpit was just plain misplaced in that place. There were three drunk old people heeding his call to mosh. Fortunately, they broke no hips. There was also a very strange dutch girl who fell in love with the bassist, I think, or maybe she just wanted to have a baby from him. Or build a house on his belly or something like that. All in all very funny concert, with sometimes amazing music.

Watchtower © Nico Wobben Yes, they were WATCHTOWER. Yes, they played practically all of their shit. Not like that's so much. They also played "Billy Jean" from Michael Jackson and assorted other weird shit. Sometimes, the bassist wore a clown's hat. Sometimes it was a Canadian hunter type of hat. There was lots of running around on general frolicking on the stage. Generally, fucking awesome concert. I consider myself very fortunate to have seen the legends Watchtower.

DAY 2
Short summary: Damn good Sieges Even concert with a lot of disappointments as openers.

Karma © Matthias Bauer - www.moeffju.net Really good singer. Really shitty band. KARMA were as tight as a prostitute after 20 years in the business. The sound was a mess. The songs were worse. The drummer overcompensated his lack of skills with a huge drumkit. The Sex Pistols drummer would have put it to a better use. The only two heavy things about Karma were the chainmail the keyboard player was wearing and the singer. But Irene really rocked. Impressive voice.

ANAND: Yay, a guitar hero! Yet when I saw Joost van den Broek (or however you spell that weird name ;P) on the keyboards I knew this wouldn't just be some guy masturbating his guitar over the background of a faceless band. First off, the masturbation was *good*. There was a song I think called "Midnight Chase" with some seriously nice melodies, generally the composition was awesome, the technical aspect, well, it's a guitar hero, what else will you expect. The Anand © Matthias Bauer - www.moeffju.net bassist, Barend Curbois, deserves special mention as well. In my very subjective opinion, he killed Anand. I mean, he played so well he completely stole the guitar hero's show :P Which was nice and refreshing, definitely. Incredible bassplayer. And my keyboard hero? Probably good. Probably, because I only saw his fingers moving. Apparently, they ran fresh out of keyboards the second day and used only props from silent movies. The mixing was beyond terrible, all the second day through. Very noisy, completely untransparent, and always, always, always with blatant, extreme mistakes. I'll speak of it some more during the next band, so suffice it to say that you never heard the keyboards during Anand. At all. Once I caught a couple of notes from the monitors while all other instruments were practically silent. That's pretty sad.

Barend Courbois © Christopher 'Haplo'
Ranschaert During the lunch break, the bass player and the drummer of Anand had a little clinic. Well, it was mostly the bass player BAREND COURBOIS' clinic, and I'm definitely not technically versed enough to write anything about this except for "oh my fucking god". Insane shit. I loved it. According to a drummer in my tourage, the drummer was very fucking good too. I just saw him play what looked to me like relatively simple stuff, but with extremely good timing and precision.

Biomechanical © Christopher 'Haplo'
Ranschaert I'd like to tell you how BIOMECHANICAL sounded. I can't, cause I didn't hear them. I heard their left guitarist (the one with long hair) and their drummer. And that was about it. A squirrel could have mixed this better by randomly running over the mixer. The complete absence of the other guitarist was almost comical during solos. I mean, how could you NOT notice that this sound just didn't work? Did the guy mixing the band mistake that other person with a guitar for a pantomime? The singer's voice started to appear in the mix after a bunch of songs, but even then you only heard him when he got really high and loud. I will not make any statement about the band at all because, honestly, the sound was too terrible to tell. They might just as well not have played at all.

Ephel Duath © Christopher 'Haplo'
Ranschaert EPHEL DUATH was definitely one of the bands I'd been looking forward to the most. And another disappointment. The band itself.. yeah.. guitarist, bassist and drummer played nearly perfect.. guitarist messed up a few solos here and there, nothing big, nothing anyone who had not listened to their album "The Painter's Palette" as often as I had would notice. Now the problem was.. the band's clean singer apparently left the band shortly before the concert. I base this information on what a guy standing next to me in the audience told me. Since that guy was Italian as well and there cannot possibly be more than, say, 100 people living in Italy, I'll assume that information was correct. Anyway, there was no clean singing, and there were holes in the songs where it was supposed to be. Simple as that. It broke a lot of things for me, I'm sure people who didn't know the band could enjoy the concert anyway. The singer was also the worst frontman I'd ever seen. From the first second on, he had no connection to neither band nor audience. He gave us fuck you's from the very beginning, which was amusing at first but soon ran out of funney. The audience soon insulted back. I really didn't like that, whether it was an act or not. His grunting was alright, he got pretty much everything right, but this singing was meant to be in a context of clean singing contrasting it just like the calm parts are a contrast to the hard parts in the music. Generally, the band ruled, obviously, with such insane and great music you can't do much wrong, but they stayed way below my expectations.

ICE AGE. Dunno. Shitty sound. Silent movie keyboards. What I heard was boring, but I can impossibly write a good review, so I won't write anything at all. I left after a few songs.

Sieges Even © Matthias Bauer - www.moeffju.net Finally, the redeeming moment of the day. SIEGES fucking EVEN. And yeah, they kicked ass. They opened with "Repression And Resistance" (or that spanish name :P), the opener of their first album. Songs that I can remember they played in no particular order: "Repression And Resistance", "Life Cycle", "Tangerine Windows Of Solace" (the whole fucking thing), "Steps", "The Waking Hours", "Behind Closed Doors", "Dimensions", "Epigram For The Last Straw" and "These Empty Places". Unless I missed something, there was absolutely nothing from "Sophisticated"/"Uneven". Maybe there's a reason for this that I'm not aware of. I must say I much prefer their last two albums over their earlier stuff, but it looks like the band's favourite album is clearly "A Sense Of Change". Even though, I loved the show. I couldn't really sing along a lot, but that was cool since the new singer is REALLY doing a very good job. He's both nailing the very old stuff ("Life Cycle" / "Contr.." uh.. "Repression And Resistance") and doing a fine job on songs like "These Empty Places".
Now I kept the best for the last. What REALLY blew me away was the new stuff. They played what felt like maybe 10 minutes from "The Art Of Navigating By The Stars", and oh my god is it good. It rocks, it grooves, it's heavy and at the same time it is sooth, it is beautiful, it has the trademark Sieges Even harmonies, the singing is perfect.. the whole thing felt exactly like a voyage by sea, true to the name of the song. Definitely Sieges Even, yet definitely new at the same time.
And yes, I will say it again, the new singer rules. At times when he was drumming along parts on his legs and chest I got a feeling that he was probably the biggest Sieges Even fan around that night.. and to think that he's part of it now. I can hardly begin to imagine how happy he must be.. and he definitely deserves it.
So yes, Sieges Even is back with a vengeance. Very much looking forward to the new album.

Joop Wolters clinic on day 1 © Nico Wobben Generally, I come from the festival with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was a near perfect line-up. The headliners both did not disappoint. There were enough really good surprises (Textures, Laberinto, Xenobia). It was one of the two annual christmasses for the European prog family. On that note, hello to Dan, Marlies, Nico, Pem & family (aren't I lazy?), Marcel and Margriet and everyone else I met again. Of course also hello to the Tiptons who are kinda part of the European progmetal family already :PP
On the other hand, I'm disappointed with the sound during most of the second day. Sieges Even's sound was pretty unbalanced, with a strong bias toward the bass and with a shitty drum sound at first, but they fixed it somewhat during the show. I think Oliver just faked that cable problem with his bass so the sound guy could get a clue to turn up Markus' guitar a little. :P Generally, this is the first time I'm really complaining about the sound. I'm far from a purist, but if I can't even hear the rhythm guitar during a solo, or worse, not hear the solo during a solo (hello Biomechanical sound), I get unhappy. I think Headway should really try and get better sound next year, this is actually my biggest and my only complaint. Everything else was perfect, down to the music played in between bands and in the lounge. You could feel those were real prog fans organizing an event for other prog fans, so props to the crew, and a huge thank you for making that event happen.


submitted by Daniel 03.07.2004

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