Phil Weller: Why I’m putting on the Progathon
Anyone who knows me will understand just how much I love the local scene; it’s an undying passion of mine and the vast majority of my social life revolves around it. My work too, revolves around it. Running Manchester Rocks and shouting about the bands who I think deserve the attention doesn’t pay my bills, but I do it for the love, because I want to see these bands get the recognition their blood, sweat and tears justify. In the scene, not only are the bands all diverse and of killer quality – juxtaposing the oftentimes negative connotations that couple itself with an underground scene when observed by the casual onlooker – but one thing in particular has struck me over the last few months.
For those who were at events such as John Nicholson’s birthday bash the past two years, any NOIZ event, Halloween at Rebellion, the MMC Weekender and so on will echo my sentiments in that the scene isn’t just a gathering of like minded musicians and fans. It is a community, where everyone is your friend, everyone has your back. If you’re feeling crappy, get down to one of these shows and those blues will be mercilessly skullfucked away. Yet, all these events have been founded upon stoner, sludge and doom bands. They are the cornerstone for the rude health the city’s underground is currently basking in and that’s because there are no egos, a sense of togetherness perpetuates. But as a prog fan, it seems a shame there isn’t that same level of commradery across the spectrum of bands around here who label their music and mantra as progressive – because quantity isn’t the issue. So, in short, the purpose of the Progathon is to bring together the wealth of progressive bands from the area and beyond and celebrate what should have been a well-edstablished community long ago. Sure, Ascent have played together with Awaker, Collibus and Spires have shared the stage before too, but nothing has quite levelled with the glorious incestuousness of the stoner/sludge/doom end of Manchester’s musical spectrum.
This is something I got talking about with The River Versus bass player, Jimmy Trippier. That’s when the idea of putting our money where our mouth is was born and we committed to putting on a gig that brought all these bands and fans together. Within 20 minutes we had enough bands to not just put on all-dayer – as was the original plan – but an entire weekend of music and then some. When we announced the event, yet more progressive bands came out of the woodwork, amazing me yet again of the depth of the local progressive music scene. So now we open our arms for one massive bear hug and will host a horde of bands under one roof over one weekend. As has been proven, there are so many bands we could have put on – and there will be more events to come – but this is our big, grandiose start of bringing the prog community together to support and appreciate one another’s art.
Basically, as much as I adore the stoner/sludge/doom community, I’m left feeling a bit jealous that, being in a proggy band myself, there isn’t that same level of friendship and mutual support between bands of our ilk. I go to local gigs every week, I buy merch from local bands, write about the bands I love not because I’m forced to or have nothing better to do; because I love the Manchester scene, I care about it and want to see it thrive because I know that, if the world were to stop and listen, they’d be blown away at what good ol’ Mancunia has to offer away from bucket hats and Liam sodding Gallagher.
So join us this weekend for a celebration of awesome music and awesome people, and let’s make this fantastic, diverse, riveting and purifying scene exactly that, a scene.
Words: Phil Weller
Day & weekend tickets are available from http://manchesterrocks.bigcartel.com/