| Always Almost, Discipline: Live at the Mask and
Wig Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.; May 9, 1998.
The first of hopefully many "PhillyProg"
events occurred May 9 at the Mask and Wig Theater in downtown Philadelphia.
The gorgeous 100-year-old theatre, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania,
usually serves as clubhouse for an elite university theater troupe. The
theatre, with an all-wood interior full of memorabilia, provided an intimate
setting and a perfect backdrop for the evening's performances.
The double-bill featured Discipline showcasing their
brilliant new CD Unfolded Like a Staircase, and Always Almost, comprising
former Echolyn members Brett Kull, Ray Weston, and Paul Ramsey, joined
by Joe Stout on keyboards.
Discipline took the stage first, opening with "Circuitry."
The band was in fine form, playing very tight, with haunting lead vocals
from Matthew Parmenter. Discipline then dove into its 22-minute epic "Into
the Dream," off their new album. This was the first of many crowd-pleasers,
with Parmenter apologizing to audience members who were hearing the mega-track
for the first time. But he need not have worried as the crowd roared with
approval. The set continued with selections from Discipline's first album
Push and Profit, as well as "Canto IV" from Unfolded
Like a Staircase. The two-hour set concluded with an encore featuring
After a brief set change, Always Almost opened with "Tread
On" from their new album, God Pounds His Nails. The band was
in great spirits as they ripped through songs from both their CDs (including
Always Almost, their first release under the name Still).
The hilarious stage antics of vocalist/bassist Ramsey,
and guitarist/vocalist Kull had their home-town crowd cheering. The set
was highlighted by a brilliant rendition of Gentle Giant's "Aspirations,"
also on the new album. They followed with an impromptu version of the Monkees'
"Daydream Believer." Stage antics and craziness aside, their
set included beautifully structured songs and vocal harmonies performed
with high energy and skilled musicianship. - Dan Walker