Friday, 8 March 2013

Does "Progressive Rock" Need To Diversify To Survive?

Recently I wrote about the Y Prog Festival going under, horrible news. However it does make you think...

Are there too many bands competing for the same audience?

As the original 70's/80's prog audience gets older will they be less inclined to go to gigs? 

Too many bands sounding very similar and not enough fans to support them? 

People only have limited funds, these are tough times! 

So in ten years time where will "Prog" be? Bands playing a rehash of the old stuff to an ever dwindling audience? 

This is where Jazz is now and that's a very difficult place to be. Very hard to get gigs outside of the jazz festivals or arts council events. (I know there are some wonderful examples of interesting jazz stuff, i'm talking about the mainstream festivals).


There is a whole new wave of interesting bands from Knifeworld to Antlered Man to Trojan Horse and many, many more to embrace. They may not be "proper prog" but they're bloody good and exploring similar "progressive" areas. Hopefully an audience will build for these bands. It's not about washing away more traditional bands and their fantastic music, it's about PROGRESSING.  Lets expose some of the more traditional bands to a new audience too. It can work both ways! Why can't we have the great more classic prog bands alongside the more unusual bands? Prog needs to diversify to survive! 

Porcupine Tree did well by crossing over into metal and doing gigs with bands like Sonic Youth etc and that fed back into their growing "prog" audience. I hope Knifeworld or someone like that can do the same. It often only takes one band to cross over, to do a "Nirvana". Although i couldn't imagine it becoming mainstream like that bringing in more fans is always a good idea. Although the likes of Syd Arthur have the potential.....

My own band The Fierce And The Dead came to prog as mixture of 70's King Crimson/Mahavishnu stuff and bands like Sonic Youth and Black Flag (and all sorts of other music) which comes out as being a bit "reverse engineered prog". No, the traditionalists won't like it. But does that matter?

I think this potentially a very exciting time. let's see what happens. 


Tim Hall said...

I suspect the reason Y-Prog collapsed was the rival HRH Prog festival with many of the same bands, and corporate backing and sponsorship.

As for bands, I think there's a place for both more experimental bands like TFATD and more traditional-style bands. But I do wonder if, though there's an overlap, they're increasingly appealing to quite different audiences. The Stabbing a Dead Horse gig at The Lexington seemed to have a different and younger audience compared with the crowd you get at Pendragon or IQ.

It may be that there's less mileage in festivals targetting that overlap than getting a critical mass of prog bands at other festivals that attract rock/metal/indie/folk/blues crowds.

Ethics said...

As you say 'prog rock' is probably dying owing to the average age of it's fans; there's good stuff being released by them still, but I don't know if it's growing their fan base or shoring up current fans self assurances that they are still right to be into them 40 years on. I came to this game late, and via 90s metal, so I'm finding my prog preferences in newer bands such as tfatd, knifeworld, trojan horse, jurojin, protest the Hero, circles, infected mushroom, tesseract etc where, though they're influenced by the prog of previous years and much more besides, I think they are pushing music forward rather than just creating new, abeit excellent, albums in the style of themselves.
'prog rock' is almost a container phrase for easy dismissal of non commercial guitar (mainly) centric music by the mainstream, and we end up getting silly 'are /n/ prog?' bait questions on Twitter because of it. Progressive music progresses, and this means you can lose the crown with one 'safe' album, but get it back on the next. If prog doesn't lead music, music will stagnate as it's prog that produces where mainstream goes. Prog will never be Big big, even though the current resurgence is doing well, because if it goes properly mainstream we lose the headwater of what's to come.

TFATDHQ said...

Agreed, once you do worry about getting "the mainstream" interested you're buggered before you even start!

Tim Hall said...

Agree with that. Britpop was the worst thing that ever happened to Indie.

On the other hand, Muse are Prog, and they're freaking *huge*

TFATDHQ said...

Bloody good point.

Watch out for Knifeworld, Syd Arthur etc :)

bbb said...

In the same way great books require great readers, I wonder whether the enforced mundanity of typical musical tastes aren't degrading the ability of audiences to even hear and understand non-generic music.

Plus, we old people like to go to bed early. :)


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