Sometimes the current landscape of progressive music can be a cause for concern, but clearly hope remains! While prog in general is enjoying a healthy resurgence in popularity, it appears that some bands have reinterpreted it in favour of pushing the envelope of technical proficiency even further.

Last night, the action at Brighton Up Bar kicked off with Highview, a Canberra based five-piece who were enjoying their fourth show together, as well as their first visit to Sydney. Impressively well-rehearsed, Highview ticked all the boxes to fit the genre. But they didn’t explore a hugely diverse range of musical ideas. Watch this space.

Next, Chillaum. Unfortunately, poorly-executed down-tuned djent stylings—which were far too loose to have any impact or articulation—revealed that this is a band reaching far beyond their grasp. Hitting their stride a little more towards the end of the set as they moved through some less technical material, things were spoiled again as the drummer launched into unprofessional and aggressive outbursts at the soundie due to a technical problem.

By contrast, The Stranger conducted a very efficient sound-check before leaping into their impressive set with some jaw-dropping call and response lead work between the two guitar players. They were apparently forced to leave their bass player at home in Queensland, but this did nothing to harm the performance. Definitely the most modern and outwardly technical band of the night, they exhibited excellent balance between feats of stunning musicianship and well-crafted song writing.

Headliners Anubis were the true standout, demonstrating the merits of having one foot in the past and one firmly planted in the future. Currently touring their new concept album The Second Hand—through which they tackle some big issues and wear their ’70s influences on their sleeve—the music takes a more energetic feel when translated into a live scenario. It’s more Dream Theatre than Pink Floyd, although we are treated to more than one Gilmour-inspired guitar solo. Performed live, the contemporary elements become more prominent, and we are treated to a seamless merger of old and new. The inclusion of a keys player rather than relying on playback keeps the whole thing truly live and goes a long way to marry their sound together and gloss over any barely-noticeable human imperfections in timing—which definitely set them apart from the other bands of the night. This band knows exactly who they are and where they’re going.

Last night’s performances showcased plenty of talented prog musicians all doing their bit to push the genre forward.

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Photos: Supplied