I’ve decided that I’m probably going to give The Cambridge Rock Festival a miss this year.
It’s not that bands who had been highlights of previous years, such as Stolen Earth and Panic Room are missing, it’s not the absence of any big-name headliners, it’s just that the retro blues-rock and rather dated old-school metal that dominates this year’s bill really isn’t for me.
It might be that we prog fans were spoiled the last couple of years, but the genre is reduced to a token this year. It’s only really Mostly Autumn who fly the “new generation prog” flag on the main stage, and I will see them plenty of other times this year.
I have no idea whether the bill reflects an intentional change in direction, perhaps in response to feedback that there was too much prog last year. I’m hoping this isn’t the case, and 2014 will see a return to the sort of diverse, prog-friendly bills we saw in 2011 and 2012. Certainly there are plenty of great prog bands out there who aren’t CRF regulars. The recent Celebr8.2 festival in Kingston (which I never had the time to review properly) was filled with bands that would fit the Cambridge bill perfectly; I would name Alan Reed, Harvest, Threshold and Arena as bands with precisely the sort of crossover potential that would go down well with the CRF audience, and none of them have played the festival before.
With a few bands like that on the bill, I’ll certainly be back. And if you’re not really into prog but love old-fashioned metal and blues-rock, CRF 2013 should still be a great festival, with a great vibe and good beer.