Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019 – Day 1:
(All photos taken by me. Had some settings issues so they are what they are)
So, next year, I’ll have our room booked starting the day BEFORE the festival. Oddly, Atlanta traffic was fine, 30 miles north, not si much. I was late to pick up my badge as a sponsor (sponsoring MaYaN for days 1 and 2) but the incredible people that run this fest worked with me and got what I needed!
Grabbed lunch with some of the ProgPower family at the new I-Gianna Grill and then hit up Publix for some necessities (snacks and crap we really don’t need) for the weekend, ran into another brother from ProgPower and then headed to our room. Long, unnecessary story short, we were about 15 minutes late for the While Heaven Wept set.
I had heard While Heaven Wept years ago but with all the onslaught of new music, I kind of lost track. But it seems there is a reason for that. Up until a few weeks ago, the band hasn’t existed for years. So this was a special set!
You see, almost every year, the fest can run into issues with the Visa process for getting bands into the country. I’m not going to pretend to know the ins and outs of this process, but from what I have gathered the gov department that handles this process is a bit of a crapfest. And sadly, Day 1 seemed to take the brunt of this. The line up we have here is vastly different then originally planned. But that is ok (even though I am still a little sour for not getting my DIGGY DIGGY HOLE crowd sing-along. (Can we still do it?), the guys that run the fest, Nathan and Milton were on it! And got stellar replacements!
While Heaven Wept (USA) 4-5pm
Part of this was reaching out to While Heaven Wept and they jumped on it and got the band together, some of which I learned last night are from a band from Virginia called Brave, who I really need to check out now. They even had a student of one of the band members on guitar… massive opportunity for that one! So they all got ready for this show in about two weeks. And not easy stuff to play. And you know what? I didn’t even notice. They were awesome and nailed the set. For anyone not familiar, they are kind of a epic progressive metal band. Definitely check them out!
Quick break and jumped in the signing line for Sanctuary. Always great seeing these guys! Saw them when they came through Atlanta a few months ago with Halcyon Way (oh… also seeing Halcyon way in Texas next week. How fortuitous). Twice is nice!
Theocracy (USA) 5:30-6:30pm
Jumped back in for Theocracy. They are a local band here to Georgia, and were a fantastic choice to fill in for another band that had Visa issues. They tore through a great set of Theocracy classics and the crowd loved it. This was also my second time seeing them, lol! Also saw them with Halcyon Way last time too. Different show. I’m sensing a pattern.
Sanctuary (US) “Refuge Denied” 7-8:30pm
Up next was a band that was a bucket list band of mine for a LONG time. They took the stage and played the setlist I saw a few months ago, which is a great one. Starting off with a couple of newer tracks before tearing into Refuge Denied in its entirety. Now, Refuge isn’t my favorite Sanctuary album, Mirror holds that title, but it is still a fantastic album. And Joseph Michael just helps seal the deal and bring it to life.
Where I was sitting, people behind me were expressing how much they were blown away. I let them know who he was and what his other band was. Overheard phrase: “The dude is a god!” Agreed. Vocally anyway… don’t smite me Joseph! The rest of the band were freaking killer too!
During prep for the fest, my wife wasn’t grabbed by Sanctuary while we were listening on a drive for a trip, but she was kind of distracted too. (This is her first time at this festival so she is pushing through like a trooper). But she was really into Sanctuary live and is definitely now a fan.
Insomnium (Finland) 9:15pm -close
Oh, Insomnium… what can I say? They put on a killer set… seen them a few times so far and I STILL haven’t heard Winter’s Gate in its entirety live. Gah! But they tore through some classics of theirs too. This band is just tight. And the vocalists were fantastic. I’m not a big fan of all growl bands, and for the most part, they are… there are clean vocals too, but they aren’t often, but Insomnium just work for me.
And just like that, Day 1 was over. And what a day it was. For a day plagued with Visa issues, even having a replacement band having to be replaced, it was stellar! Days 2-4 have a lot to live up to! But bring it!
Shout out to Milton and Nathan and crew for putting on a stellar Day 1!