REVIEW: Sunday June 1st, 2008 - Progressive Nation '08


4 Jun 2008, 15:16

Sun 1 Jun – Prog Nation 2008

This was the best concert I have ever attended in my young life.

Let's begin with the absolute basics. As soon as I heard about this concert, I wanted to go. The tour itself intrigued me, being that Dream Theater is my favorite band, Opeth is one of my favorite bands, and the fact that it was Dream Theater's first time coming to this area in years. Between the Buried and Me and 3 were both bands I had never listened to, but I knew I would hear some of their stuff before I even got my tickets.

When I went to book the tickets online, I was sad to find that Ticketmaster said that they were sold out. Much to my later dismay, it was a glitch on the site. A FUCKING GLITCH. I could have gotten better seating than I did, but I didn't because of the fucking Ticketmaster website which had me believe that the show was sold out for two months. Luckily, Ruth Eckerd Hall is a wonderfully small venue, and there wasn't a bad seat in the house.

As soon as I actually bought my tickets, I acquired the latest album by 3: The End Is Begun. It remains to be one of the best albums I've ever heard. What a progressive masterpiece! I became even more excited about the concert as the month wait between the purchase and the show went on.

Anyway, the day finally came, and me and my buddy were sitting in row BB, right in the middle of the row actually. Those were some of the best seats I have ever gotten at a concert. If we were closer, it could have been nicer, but I'm not complaining. Everything was so nice about the place; it was air-conditioned, the seats were comfy, and you didn't have to worry about getting beer spilled all over you (however, some drunk guy behind us later threw beer all over people, pissing off plenty).

After about 30 minutes of waiting in our seats, the show began. 3 played a short, but very outstanding set. They started by playing the first five tracks of their The End is Begun album: The Word Is Born Of Flame, The End Is Begun, Battle Cry, All That Remains, My Divided Falling. Joey Eppard is a god when he sings live! I thought that there could have been some studio manipulation in there when I first heard them, but alas I was proven wrong. His voice is delightful to here live, and he's got a lot of passion.

If this wasn't cool enough, a man in a hood kept coming out and throwing paper balls at them while they were on stage. This man came out after the end of the fifth song to do a drum solo with their drummer, and of course, this man was Mike Portnoy. His first appearance sparked a lot of applause. 3 closed their set with Monster, which I think was a great way to end it. When that song ended, a crew headed by Portnoy came out and silly-stringed them and their equipment. By the time that intermission rolled around, I didn't want to leave my seat.

The next band that played was Between the Buried and Me. Prior to the show (and even now), I had been ignorant of this band's general sound. After hearing them play, I can safely say that I'll be checking into their discography. I've already got Colors; I just have to hear it. Anyway, I'm unsure of their set due to my lack of knowing their songs, but I know that one of the songs they did was White Walls, which was fantastic. No guest appearances during this band until the end of their set, where Portnoy and his trusty band of pranksters repeated to Between the Buried and Me what they did to 3.

Oh, before I go on, did I mention that this is the final show of the tour? That's why there was such an array of pranks and whatnot. Chaos in Motion doesn't end til tonight, however, when Dream Theater will play a show in Puerto Rico with only Between the Buried and Me as the guests. However, the official second leg of the tour ends in Clearwater, and I feel very proud to have been at this show. It really was a fantastic closing. Anyway, let's get back on with the review, shall we?

Inbetween the sets, we saw hooded Portnoy running back and forth on stage, putting random pieces of paper on the floor where Opeth would be playing. Everyone knew that it was going to be something humourous, and we later found out what those pieces of paper had on them (I'll get to that soon).

Opeth was, simply put, outstanding. The lighting was amazing; they had an effect where the entire interior of the stadium was bathed in a spinning design. It's hard to explain, but if you were at one of the shows on this tour, you probably got to experience this. They opened with When, which is probably one of their most powerfully delivered live songs to date. After this song, Akerfeldt happened to notice the papers that Portnoy had left. The first one was a picture of Mike's ass, which everybody enjoyed. Another one said "Eat my ass and balls" (Mike's signature phrase). Mikael's response was nothing short of comical. He sang a vocal-only song called Mike Portnoy is a Bitch.

Opeth then started cranking out the classics: The Baying of the Hounds and Wreath were the most memorable parts of their heavier setlist, and my absolute favorite Opeth song, In My Time of Need, was beautifully done. And if that wasn't special enough to hear, James LaBrie came out to sing the final chorus of this song (in sneakers and short-shorts, for that matter.). After LaBrie ran off, Mikael exclaimed: "Who the fuck was that guy?" What a marvelous site to hear your favorite singer sing one of your favorite songs. It was wonderful. (I have a video of this, shout to me if you want to see it). They closed the show with one of my first favorites: The Drapery Falls. Appropriately, the curtain began to rise and fall as the band played, making for a very nice effect. Oh, and did I mention that Mike was throwing grapes and bread at Opeth while they played? Yeah, Mikael promised that payback was 100 percent (which we all later found was indeed true). Oh, and also, Between the Buried and Me came out half-naked and danced to "The Drapery Falls". The applause was much greater when Opeth ended, and the silly-string was much more abundant.

One more intermission; it was the most special intermission of all. A giant stoplight prop above the stage glowed red, indicating that Dream Theater was not ready, but as we waited, it later turned to yellow, riling the fans to insane amounts and bringing those out in the corridors into the theater room. And when it turned green and the lights went down, everybody went fucking apeshit.

Dream Theater's show began with nothing but a timeline video playing, showing a history of their albums and their endeavors, all finally concluding with an in-motion video of the Systematic Chaos album art. And then they began. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt. 1 began, and everyone went out of their minds. It is the best version of that song I've heard. Seeing my favorite band in person for the first time is something that's a real treat, and I'm sure that any of you older readers know exactly what I'm talking about. Needless to say, this opening kicked ass.

Dream Theater then went into playing two more favorites of mine: Beyond This Life and Surrounded. The latter, "Surrounded", was different than the one featured on Images and Words, and it contained a very beautiful instrumental part. I sang along gladly to both of these. The smell of pot (yes, pot at Ruth Eckerd Hall) began to swell in my nostrils from the people to our right. The Dark Eternal Night was a surefire show highlight, featuring a cartoon video of the band defeating a giant werewolfesque monster. We later got to watch a video called "The Dark Nintendo Night", which synced up Super Mario Brothers to the studio version of the song. That was cool.

Forsaken was played with the music video on in the background, and this live performance of "Forsaken" tops every listening experience I've ever had with this song. I've learned to like it even more than I already did. Take the Time serves as the ultimate highlight of their set for me personally, not only because it's one of my earliest Dream Theater favorites, but because Mr. Akerfeldt got his payback during this song. When they got to the song's bridge, Mikael situated himself on the side of the stage with a golf club and golf balls and started firing away at Portnoy, hitting his cymbals a couple of times (it was audible).

The show ended on a memorable note: The Shmedley Wilcox! For those unaware, this is a five-part medley containing parts from the following Dream Theater songs (in order of appearance): Trial of Tears, Finally Free, Learning to Live, In The Name Of God, and Octavarium (The Razor's Edge part). It was orgasmic. By the time Petrucci played those final chords, everybody was screaming with delight. All of the bands (except for Opeth, who seemingly "went back to Sweden as somebody on stage put it) got together and bowed.

I can only hope that they plan on releasing a DVD of this show. It was a great set, a great line-up, and a great experience. What a wonderful event to attend.


  • Lociferx

    That sounds like a really entertaining show with all the crazy goofy shit goin on. Opeth didn't play wreath or when in cleveland or columbus though.

    4 Jun 2008, 18:37
  • OctavariumTrap

    Wish I was there =)

    12 Jun 2008, 2:38
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