Paperlate: Could an event like Be Prog! My Friend happen in the UK?

a shot of the crowd at be prog my friend

It didn’t take long after Prog had made our first visit to Barcelona’s prog fest Be Prog! My Friend for us to wonder whether or not we could ever have such an event in the UK.
I mean, what’s not to like? An outdoor festival, bathed in sun, well attended and with a wide-ranging bill attracting an all-ages and enthusiastic crowd. That spells winner to me…

Of course, when Prog magazine launched back in 2009, the universally adored Summer’s End was the kingpin of the live UK progressive scene, and remains, for me, the finest weekend of progressive music you’ll find in the UK. We can now add to that the prog stage at Ramblin’ Man, HRH Prog, charity event Trinity, Eppyfest and Danfest, all of varying sizes, and sometimes it seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry is ready to chance their arm with another prog event. Reading that list makes it look like the UK is awash with prog-style festivals, so do we need anything else? Possibly not, although it should perhaps be noted that half of these are relatively small in scale, and aside from perhaps Eppyfest, attract similar bands and a similar crowd.

The weather in this country is clearly something that you can’t count on, which is one factor to consider. One only has to look at the washouts that have plagued Download in recent years! But
if a 2-5,000 capacity outdoor prog-based event was a consideration in the UK, would it work?

The beauty of Be Prog! is not only its bill, which lines classic old bands against rising young proggers, but also the audience. You swiftly get used to seeing a Mogwai T-shirt next to a Magma one, a TesseracT next
to a Tull. Aside from the expected dismissive online reaction news of such an event would inevitably bring, could the unification of ages we see in Europe really happen here in the UK?

I quote from David West’s Vola live review elsewhere in this issue: “It’s a different audience to those of bands like Lifesigns and Touchstone.” Is the gulf between the audiences that would flock to Ramblin’ Man’s prog stage and that who would attend ArcTanGent too wide to be drawn together? Even between those who triumph The Tangent but hide away from Haken?

I sincerely hope not. Because to see an event which happily allies bands and an audience of all ages, with a wide progressive spread of music, can only be of a real benefit to the wider progressive community.

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Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock, as well as sleevenotes for many major record labels. He lives in North London and happily indulges a passion for AC/DC, Chelsea Football Club and Sydney Roosters.