Last updated 11 May, 2004
I decided to attend Progpower almost at the last minute -- after much dithering and hemming and hawing, I finally confirmed the airfare through Travelocity only about twelve days before the event. My plan was to fly over to Amsterdam, meet up with #ytsejam IRCer "STiX" (Dennis Leeflang) at Leiden Centraal rail station, and from there ride with him to Tilburg for the festival. After the show, my plans were a bit more nebulous: try to stay awake somewhere -- possibly with Dennis, who was planning on partying with Lemur Voice and Mayadome somewhere -- and then catch a train back to Amsterdam for my flight back, which departed Monday morning at 11am or so. A quick whirlwind visit, which would end at 3pm Atlanta time on Monday, when I would -- in theory, anyway -- return to work at 5pm. :)
I flew over from Atlanta to Amsterdam on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' Garibaldi Bridge, a Boeing 767 aircraft. Here's a shot from the departure gate. Since there's a Mr. Garibaldi on the show Babylon 5, I thought this was a pretty good omen, and I wasn't wrong. :)
The flight over was uneventful (but, alas, full), and I must say KLM treated even us peons in tourist-class rather nicely. We were fed twice, and the food wasn't too bad, either. I felt a little better about the airfare (c. $470) at this point; at least I'd gotten some free grub out of it. :) I made a slight effort to catch a nap on the way over but I wasn't really tired by this point; still, I might have dropped off for a bit.
My first view of an overseas country came as the plane descended through 500 feet and cleared free of the low-hanging clouds and rain. The sun wasn't up yet on the ground (although we'd seen it rise from higher altitude shortly before) so it was still pretty dark. I look down and see these big glaring orange spots on the ground, with dark tendrils of what looked like smoke (or fog), and I thought "Dear god, the city's on fire!" Or, for you Dune fans, "Welcome to Giedi Prime. Baron Harkonnen will see you shortly....."
After a bit I realized that the orange glow from the TOPS of buildings was coming from greenhouses. Whew! Amsterdam is saved!
Arrival at Schiphol, Amsterdam's airport, was uneventful (or as uneventful as it could be for someone who's never flown overseas before) and Customs, the lazy bastards, didn't even stamp my passport. Hey! I paid US$60 for this damn thing! At least stamp it! And they didn't ask me "Do you have anything to declare?" So I could be a wise-ass and say "Why, yes! I do declare that this country is a great place! And furthermore, I declare that....." I didn't mind not being hassled too much, though. :)
So with train ticket (and sketchy instructions to go to Track 6) in hand I headed off for Schiphol's train platforms. Along comes the train (or at least, -a- train) and I hop on it, bound for Leiden Centraal where I was to meet Dennis (aka "StiX" on #ytsejam). I've loved trains all my life, so this part was fun. Eventually the train stops in a smallish station called Hoofdorp and everyone else but me hops out. Then a railway employee pokes her head in. "Where are you going?" "Leiden Centraal." "Oh! This train stops here. Take the next train, 8:02 for Leiden CS." Gee, the ticket guy forgot to tell me this, which, if you remember my hairy tales about Ytsecon3 and the Long Island RR, should sound familiar......
So I hopped out and took this shot of the train I'd exited, and this one of the "new" train.
The new train arrived quickly at Leiden Centraal and I found the "Free Record Shop" right away. It was after 8am, the appointed time, and Dennis was right there waiting for me.......nope. No sign of him. I wait around, do a tiny bit of exploring, and start to think about maybe having to get a ticket from there to Tilburg when Dennis shows up. Whew! We exit the station and hop into his vehicle, a 94 Citroen mini-truck (perfect for hauling his drums around in).
During our pell-mell race down the highway to Tilburg I snapped this shot of an Actual Dutch Windmill (tm). :)
The drive to Tilburg was no more than an hour from Leiden at the speeds Dennis was driving, so we arrived at around 10am, with plenty of time to drop by the apartment of Martijn, a friend of Dennis'. We collected him and another guy and took the bus the short distance to the venue. We checked it out and saw our online friend Marcel and his band Lemur Voice arrive for soundcheck, so we headed over to the bar where the 11am meet'n'greet was scheduled.
This was a very cool thing, because after a short while, a lot of people I know -- some in person, most from IRC and the Ytsejam mailing list -- started coming in. Here's a shot of Mark Metzger with Superior, who all dropped by, and here's a pic of the band and me. Superior was one of the primary reasons I came to the show.
Also on the agenda at the breakfast was Erik of Mayadome and Dennis' first meeting, which per IRC joking had to involve a hug. :)
Here's a shot of the online group as a
whole, and this is Charlie Farrell's summary to me of the people in
As for the group photo taken at the Breakfast meeting, the assembled group are made up of (Left to Right), Gaz (Graham Boyle), Hilde, Claus Jensen (Intromental Management, who look after Mayadome - also on Perpetual Motion Board), Dennis (StiX), Dave Miller (PM Board), your good self (with my head just above yours), Geert Fieew (PM Board), Thorsteinn Kolbeinsson (PM Board and IRC), Mark Metzger (Ytsejam Mailing List) and right front someone I don't know -- possibly Giedrius Slivinskas (PM Board and Edge of Time Fanzine -- I think).
We headed over to Club 013 after awhile to begin the show. The first band scheduled was Wolverine, on the smaller stage, a band none of us were familiar with, and Erik from Mayadome came out and told us "Hey, these guys are pretty good!" So we tried to crowd into the room to see but could only get as far as the doorway (the room was quite full), but we could hear them and they sounded pretty good, so I bought their EP outside later.
Then it was time for Lemur Voice's set, one of the primary reasons
why I came over, since I already had Insights and knew
Marcel, their lead guitarist (and the best guitarist in the
Netherlands) from IRC. Here are nine shots from Lemur Voice's
lv-p1.jpg, lv-p2.jpg, lv-p3.jpg, lv-p4.jpg, lv-p5.jpg, lv-p6.jpg, lv-p7.jpg, lv-p8.jpg and lv-p9.jpg. I'd have had more pics from their set, but I had to scrap at least 3 that didn't come out. Here also is a pic, of me and Marcel taken after the gig. Lemur Voice had excellent, clear sound -- the advantages of playing first and having a real soundcheck -- and I immediately headed outside after their set to purchase a copy of their newest CD, Divided. I also met up with the band and presented Gregoor Van Der Loo, their lead singer, with a copy of the 2-CD Ozric Tentacles show recorded live at the Fillmore back in 1998. Marcel had told me Gregoor was a fan, but he's a REAL fan: he was walking on air the whole rest of the night. :)
The next band on my list of must-sees was Superior, the band whose
material I was most familiar with. I've had a copy of their first
release, behind, since it was available from the band as a
demo, and I'd helped with the US preorder distribution of their
second CD, YOUnique, in which I appear in the thank-yous.
I'd even met Bernd before, when he came over to America for the
infamous wedding of Pam and Ryan (two #ytsejammers who met because
of my Dream Theater tagline on an email message :)). Here are images,
in order, from their set:
sup-p1.jpg, sup-p2.jpg, sup-p3.jpg, sup-p4.jpg, sup-p5.jpg, Mark Metzger (Ytsejammer from Boston, who was as into their show as I was :)), sup-p6.jpg, sup-p7.jpg, sup-p8.jpg, sup-p9.jpg, sup-p10.jpg, sup-p11.jpg, sup-p12.jpg, sup-p13.jpg, sup-p14.jpg, sup-p15.jpg, sup-p16.jpg, sup-p17.jpg, sup-p18.jpg, sup-p19.jpg, sup-p20.jpg, sup-p21.jpg, sup-p22.jpg, sup-p23.jpg, sup-p24.jpg, sup-p25.jpg, sup-p26.jpg and sup-p27.jpg.
Here's a pic of Mark M. and Hildy, who came over from Belgium for the show. Hildy had also come to America for Pam and Ryan's wedding, which is where she had met Bernd.
We were waiting around outside for Superior to appear, but I knew they had to leave pretty quickly after their set because Bernd had to work the next morning. I was getting a little worried; not only did I want to see Bernd one last time, but I had a CD for him that he asked me to bring him from the US. I asked the staff guarding the backstage entrance if they could check on him for me, and they came back with Bernd in tow, who promptly authorized (demanded, more like:)) a backstage pass for me to head downstairs with him. We went down to their dressing room and hung out until it was time for them to leave -- this was quite fun and there was a lot of hilarity there (much of it, alas, in German :)). I did manage to have a copy of their setlist autographed and, err, doodled on. Here it is. (Further, deponent saith not. :))
The next band I checked out was Evergrey on the main stage. On the
drive down to Tilburg Dennis had played some of their stuff for me,
and it had sounded cool so I went in, and they were really good.
Not vastly proggy but a good, solid rock sound. Pics:
eg-p1.jpg, eg-p2.jpg, eg-p3.jpg, eg-p4.jpg, eg-p5.jpg and eg-p6.jpg. I bought their CD after their set. Unfortunately their new one wasn't available for purchase until January 2000, but Mark M. managed to snag two copies out of the air during the show. :)
Next up (I think) for me was Mayadome on the small-stage. Erik,
their bassist, was really cool to hang out with. I know him from
#ytsejam IRC (he's "M-Erik" on there, and I didn't know what the M
stood for until two weeks before the show!) Wish I could have hung
out with him more! Here are some gig pics:
maya-p1.jpg, maya-p2.jpg, maya-p3.jpg, maya-p4.jpg, maya-p5.jpg, maya-p6.jpg, maya-p7.jpg, maya-p8.jpg, maya-p9.jpg, maya-p10.jpg, maya-p11.jpg, maya-p12.jpg, maya-p13.jpg, maya-p14.jpg, maya-p15.jpg and maya-p16.jpg. They didn't have any CDs for sale, at least not when I checked, so I'll have to pick something up later, 'cause their show sounded great. A little loud in that small, crowded room, but still great.
Next on my personal playbill was Pain of Salvation, whose album
One Hour By The Concrete Lake is my second favorite
CD of 1999. They were excellent and the crowd was really into
their set. Here are my shots:
pos-p1.jpg, pos-p2.jpg, pos-p3.jpg, pos-p4.jpg, pos-p5.jpg, pos-p6.jpg, pos-p7.jpg, pos-p8.jpg, pos-p9.jpg, pos-p10.jpg, pos-p11.jpg, pos-p12.jpg, pos-p13.jpg, pos-p14.jpg, pos-crwd.jpg (audience), pos-p15.jpg, pos-p16.jpg, pos-p17.jpg and pos-p18.jpg. I'd have bought their old/new CD Entropia but there were none available.
Here are some photos taken after PoS's set, when we were all outside hanging out (this is during Threshold's set on the mainstage; I had heard one Threshold CD and wasn't overly impressed with it).... Me and #ytsejammer 'Bobke' (Bart), Lemur Voice with me, Dennis "STiX" Leeflang and his band (including Martijn and Marcel, Bobke himself, Lemur Voice hamming it up (here also :))
It was at about this time that the drummer for Evergrey upchucked/tossed his cookies/puked all over the floor near the front of the venue. Yum! This prompted a later observation.....but we'll get to that. :)
After a while Pain of Salvation finally assembled in one place long enough for a group photo; that's David from moremetal.com (formerly Knights of the Round) and his wife in there, too. :)
And then it was time to leave. There was no sign of Dennis or Marcel or any of the guys in Lemur Voice so, in need of ANYTHING to do to stay awake, I left with Bobke, GaZ, Charlie (from the UK) and David and his wife to go to a nearby pizza place for some post-gig foodage. After we ordered I ran back from the restaurant to double-check the venue for any Dennis or LV spoor, but there was no sign of them, so I headed back to the pizza-place. Tom, the singer for Evergrey, came in and ordered something and hung out with us, which was cool. The pepperoni pizza featured 'ronis that were big and jalapeno peppers that were both unexpected and too hot! My first experience of "authentic" Dutch food was therefore a slightly frightening one. :)
It was at about this time that, thinking of the unfortunate spew incident from Evergrey's drummer back at the club, I came up with their new monicker, "Everspray." Even Tom laughed, so I guess that makes it official. :)
There was still no sign of Dennis and the rest of Lemur Voice, so I accompanied GaZ and Charlie and David and his wife back to their nearby hotel. On the way in we stumbled into members of Pain of Salvation and Threshold, and chatted with them in the lobby, which was cool. GaZ and Charlie invited me up, so I headed upstairs with them, and Charlie very graciously offered me the extra bed in his room so I could get a few hours of shut-eye before leaving early in the morning. Thanks, Charlie!
I managed to sleep a little bit, but I was very worried about missing the train connection to Schiphol, so I kinda slept with one eye open (but not "gripping my pillow tight" :)). I woke up a bit early and was able to shave and take a well-needed shower, which really helped a lot. Then I limped to Tilburg station to catch a train to Schiphol.
Yes, "limped." I had abused my weak ankles with too much standing and walking the day before, which always wreaks havok with my left ankle, so I was "operating under emergency impulse power," "running on three cylinders," or "making slow headway with damage to my forward alpha impeller nodes." Whatever, it was a slow walk. :)
I bought a ticket -- $15! -- and waited for the train, which
arrived in about ten minutes. Good timing! A quick half-hour ride
and one stop later and I was in Dordrecht (I think) to transfer to
the next train for a one-hour ride to Amsterdam-Schiphol. A pretty
nice ride for $15 -- and they never even came by and checked my
ticket! Even leaving THAT aside, I must say I'm extremely
impressed with the Dutch rail system. Inexpensive, fast and
efficient; it's what we need in the US, but will probably never
have. Here's a scan of the two train tickets I saved, plus the
backstage wristband, and my boarding pass for the flight home:
After a splendid ride and some great scenery as the sun rose over Holland I arrived at Schiphol, and was promptly checked in at one of the deskrows. This time the passport control person stamped my passport but waved me through without fanfare and the gate was nearby. I had plenty of time so I had a sausage roll and an apple juice -- for $9! Sheesh! Then I traded in my last NLG50 note and headed to the gate, which was crowded. Here was the first sign of inefficiency, because they make you line up for security-check at the gate. I set off the scanner so I was treated to a pat-down search. Sheesh! Then everyone waits in line again at the jetway as they board the plane in no particular order. Oh, well.
My returning plane was also Garibaldi Bridge, seen here lurking behind the smaller plane in the foreground. During the taxi for takeoff I saw a Royal Jordanian 747 parked at a gate -- cool, THAT's not something you see every day......
The flight back was long, but oddly enough I never really felt the urge to sleep, although I tried to rest my eyes some. Great view of the port of Amsterdam on the way out, but unfortunately -- just like the flight in -- Britain was shrouded in clouds, so my first view of that storied isle will have to wait. :)
The second in-flight movie was Wild Wild West, which I hadn't seen before, so it was cool being able to see that, too. Once again KLM took good care of us, feeding us dinner and then a hot pita roll later. They were so good the big guy across the aisle had three. :)
My passage past the attentive drug-dog and through the ever-dreaded US Customs at Hartsfield was quick and blessedly uneventful (I'd heard some real horror stories). My flight had arrived somewhat earlier (2:25 pm) than scheduled (3:20 or so), so I was on my way home in good time. Feeling the weight of jetlag now, I still went in to work at my scheduled time, 5pm, but left after 4 hours since I'd gotten my usual review-work done. My manager was thunderstruck when she saw me walk in. :) And that about ends my Monday.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and much fun! All the bands I saw were great and all the people I encountered were really cool. A special hello and thanks to Dennis/StiX for his help on the ground, and hellos to Hildy, Graham, Charlie (thanks so much!), David and his wife, Bernd, Marcel and all of Lemur Voice, Tom from Evergrey, Pain of Salvation (especially Daniel Gildenlow), Bart/Bobke, Martijn, Mark Metzger, Erik and all of Mayadome, and everyone who I forgot.... You all helped make my first overseas journey a fun one, and as always, if you ever come to America, my place is yours. :)
A special "Erp!" goes out to Gregoor Van Der Loo -- hope you're enjoying those CDs, ya freek! :)
Roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Amsterdam: $470
Ticket to Progpower: $22
T-shirt for Progpower: $17
Wolverine, LV and Evergrey CDs: about $50
Sausage roll and apple juice at Schiphol: $9
Expression on Gregoor's face after I presented him with Ozrics Live at the Fillmore: priceless! :)
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