Dream Theater & Crimson ProjeKct @ The Gibson Amphitheater, Universal Studios CA 07/02/12

The usual question I get is “who the heck are Dream Theater?” In short, Dream Theater are Progressive Metal gods and one of the largest cult acts on the planet. Think Metallica meets RUSH. Nowhere near as popular as those acts, but not underground either. The last 3 albums have been Billboard Top 10 releases and they finally earned a Grammy nod. Not too shabby for a bunch of guys that make untrendy, heavy, weird music.

A Dream Theater concert is a strange event. The crowd is a sea of musician geeks, metal-heads and computer/sci-fi nerds, or a combination thereof. ..unless you’re in Japan or South America, where there’s large numbers of female Dream Theater fans for some reason. About the musician geeks: Much of the crowd can be seen air drumming to songs with precision, beat for beat. There’s also a fair share of air guitarists, air bassists and air keyboard players in the crowd, also seen fingering along, having memorized every note of every song…and there’s probably a million notes played at a DT concert. A fan sees this band for the Metal, the Prog, and/or the individual players, each of whom has their own enclave of fans and followers.

What is Prog you might ask? It’s unorthodox music, complicated, and often times difficult to wrap your head around. The songs are long, the solos are numerous, and the talent seems super-human. This is an inspirational group for me, and without them I probably would never have picked up an instrument. It also explains my ongoing loyalty and support to them – twelve or so concerts and counting.

This band is also unique for giving value to the fans. It was common place for the group to perform 3 hour shows, with a policy of rotating song lists. A fan could go see them in LA and hear 16 songs or so, see them the next night in San Diego or Anaheim and hear a completely different set. And the next tour, the band would make a point to play an entirely different set of songs, ensuring even more variety.

What other band does that??? On top of that, the band members are actually accessible and stay connected to their fans, often times interacting on message boards, blogs, live chats and in person. As for the show, it was a great but standard Dream Theater experience. They’ve been doing this a long time and they function like a machine. I’ve also been seeing them live a very long time, since 1998. One of their concerts can make for a rockin’ but tiring experience. Many of the songs are 8-10 minutes in length and this particular show reached a point where the songs began to sound alike. Great show nonetheless, but I’m either getting too old for this or my unfamiliarity with the newer material kept me from fully appreciating it.

As for the venue, The Gibson at Universal Studios is a great 6000 seat indoor amphitheater. Every seat is a great vantage point, it’s comfortable and well maintained. Unfortunately for the band, I’d say 1000 or so seats went unsold. The far left and right wings were curtained off, eliminating clusters of seats at the edges of the venue – never seen this done before, anywhere. Additionally, much of the upper balcony was empty. I attended a 2007 Dream Theater show at the same venue and it appeared to be a sold out show. I’m speculating that the lower attendance was due to a combination of factors: 1-It was a Monday night. 2-Economics. There’s not much room in the budget for entertainment and discretionary income in general. 3-Concert tickets are frickin expensive. And 4-It’s Dream Theater, not Metallica or Rush!

The real highlight of the night was seeing the opener, Crimson ProjeKct. Who the heck is that? We didn’t know till a few hours before show time, thanks to Wikipedia. Crimson ProjeKct is basically King Crimson minus their leader and founder, Robert Fripp, plus a few unknown but ridiculously talented additions to the group. Classic rockers would know King Crimson from the 70s. They’r a pioneering group in the progressive rock genre.

For Crimson ProjeKct, the core players were present: Adrian Belew (noted guitar virtuoso, ex Talking Heads, ex Tom Tom Club), Pat Mostelloto (drum phenom and ex Mr. Mister and XTC drummer), and the great Tony Levin on bass. Tony Levin has played with everyone, including Buddy Rich, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, Yes, Stevie Nicks and Peter Gabriel. He’s a super star in the bass community. They had 2 drummers, 2 bass players, and 2 guitar players. Sounds weird and cluttered but it worked! We were floored by their musical wizardry. They played King Crimson songs and while I’m not a fan, those quirky but rockin songs came alive on stage. An added surprise was witnessing Danny Carey, the drummer for TOOL, jump on stage and do a drum trio with the other band members. That was uber cool to see. The ProjeKct had a ton of fun on stage, and the Dream Theater audience had a glowing respect for the group and applauded like crazy. Part of the same family.

Dream Theater
1. Bridges in the Sky
2. 6:00
3. The Dark Eternal Night
4. This is the Life
5. The Root of All Evil
6. Lost Not Forgotten
7. A Fortune in Lies
8. Surrounded
9. On the Backs of Angels
10. War Inside My Head
11. The Test that Stumped Them All
12. The Spirit Carries On
13. Breaking All Illusions
14. Metropolis Pt. 1 (The Miracle and the Sleeper)

Crimson ProjeKct
1. B’Boom
2. THRAK
3. Dinosaur
4. Elephant Talk
5. Red
6. Frame by Frame
7. Thela Hun Ginjeet
8. Indiscipline

Highlight: It’s always awesome to see musician superstars like the guys in Dream Theater along with the King Crimson alumni, Tony Levin especially. It was also pure awesomness to see the ProjeKct play the immortal “Red”.

A view from the orchestra section

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Posted on September 22, 2012, in Concerts: 2012 - Present, Crimson ProjeKct, Dream Theater and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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