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A Review: February' s Philly Progressive Rock Series PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 03 March 2009

North Star Bar, Philadelphia PA  - February 22, 2009

By Mike FlavinAdvent

Kicking off the Progressive Rock Series at Philly’s North Star Bar were three wildly contrasting bands, showcasing their material for the small but appreciative audience who ventured out on a chilly school/work night to support live prog. While the performing area of the North Star is rather small and short on fancy lighting, it has decent acoustics and a clean sound system, and the bar at the opposite end of the room ensures that patrons can grab a drink or two without missing a note.

New Jersey-based Advent opened the show with the melodic, symphonic style with a set taken mostly from their Cantus Firmus CD. Advent’s main influences are classic prog and classical, with perhaps a touch of jazzy Steely Dan, and their performance features top-notch musicianship. The music of Advent is tasteful and elegant, and to my ears there’s no reason they shouldn’t soon join the big leagues of progressive music. A few high-profile shows and perhaps another album release, and they will get the attention they deserve. For more info, go to

The Red Masque


The Red Masque, also a local group, took over the stage with an enthusiastic set full of raucous heavy riffing & percussion (courtesy of bassist Brandon Ross and drummer Brian Van Korn) and the almost psychedelic vocals of Lynette Shelley. Augmenting their set material with plenty of improvisation, at times their bass guitar driven sound took a page or two from Wetton/Bruford-era King Crimson. For more info, go to

KohoutekClosing the show were DC area’s Kohoutek, who specialize in what their website refers to as ‘improvised psych with noise tendencies and abstraction’ (I couldn’t think of any way to improve or expand upon that description!). Their largely improvised set was a trance-worthy combination of computer-generated electronic sounds, electric guitars (with a myriad of pedal effects), & saxophone, all over a driving percussion. Perhaps not a fair comparison to the more song-oriented Pink Floyd, but Kohoutek’s extended jam brought to mind some of that band’s early experimental improvs. For more info, go to

Too often, up and coming (and even the established) progressive rock groups are only heard at the occasional festival, rather than out in the club circuit that is usually the territory of the radio-friendly acts who play to a younger demographic. With a number of progressive sets over the next few months, the North Star Bar could (and should) become a regular stop for Philly area prog fans.



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