This week marks the return of one of the premier Prog festivals in the US. There are not many Prog festivals in the US and while many have come and gone, Prog Power USA in Atlanta, GA has been running strong for 14 years and is presenting Prog Power 15 this week, Sept 10-13. What started as a small festival in 2001 has become a 4 day event with bands from all over the world. It started off on Sept 10th and 11th with smaller shows featuring 3 bands and then kicks into high gear with the full shows on Friday, the 12th and Saturday, the 13th featuring bands such as Stratovarious, Overkill, Pain of Salvation, Jon Olivia’s Pain and many more from Greece, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Founder Glenn Harveston, who had no prior music or concert promoting experience, started the Prog festival in 2001 as a response to another one that he thought was below standards. After doing the first one in Chicago at a small club for 300 people, the show was moved to Atlanta where it has been every since at a venue called Center Stage.
Glenn says he picks the bands he likes. “I don’t book a band that I don’t like so that comes into play. I do want to sell tickets and so we feature more established bands that have a track record but basically I pick the whole roster just out of my own personal preference. I’ve introduced hundreds of bands that way to the US. It’s mix and match, what’s popular now, what’s got a track record and what do I think is brand new that people will like. I do supplement the roster with some power metal. So in addition to putting Prog on, it is about 50/50 with metal acts as well. As far as keeping up with new bands, “The main thing is word of mouth. People who interact with my social media stuff, if they come across something they love, they want to talk about it.”
While the festival is not yet as big as those in Europe, it does offer an advantage of letting fewer bands play longer sets. The Center Stage venue is an indoor amphitheater that holds 1100. Between the 12-14 bands that perform, the 2 headlining bands give 90 minute sets while even the opening bands get a full hour.
Glenn says he has seen a shift in the music over the years. “What I’ve seen is a split. Originally you just had the Dream Theater and YtseJam type followers and now you are seeing a lot more modern Prog with the rough vocals, like Mastadon, Between the Buried and Me, etc. Those bands are reaching a younger audience and the retro Prog is coming back like with Opeth who have gone away from the growls and more with a retro vibe.“
For more information on the Prog Power Festival visit progpowerusa.com.