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Roster update (Day 1) & more...

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA' started by Harvester, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Harvester

    Harvester The Promoter

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    A Scare, Some Bad News & Some Good News
    (Roster Change & more)

    Here we go again, folks, please MAKE SURE TO READ THIS ALL THE WAY TO THE END. This is gonna be a long one.

    The scare:

    We applied for visas for Galneryus and Insomnium months ago. As some of you may be aware, the most important category that defines whether or not a visa gets approved by our government is whether or not the band is internationally recognized. Thus, we submitted over 500 pages for each of those bands with evidence that shows such international recognition. Insomnium has headlined tours in the US several times, and thus have been approved for visas in the past. And while Galneryus may not have had a lot of attention in the Western world, they are a phenomenon in Asia - over half a million records sold and signed by major label Warner Music. We had no doubt their petitions would go off without a hitch.

    After waiting for a couple of months, the government agency who shall not be named sends us a “Request for Additional Evidence” letter for both those bands. Those letters essentially mean we “didn’t provide enough proof that fulfills their criteria. Again, each petition contained over 500 pages of such evidence. It was all in there. We have since questioned whether or not they even looked through the packet in the first place.

    Our visa guy (Marc Gessford, Play America Visas) has done hundreds of petitions over the years and he was appalled to see such big names receive those letters. But knowing we could submit a response, he crafted an incredible letter challenging their decision, and pointing out that everything they had requested had been there from the start. We went as far as including letters from third parties vouching for those bands to get their visas. These third parties were managers, label people, other artists, colleagues, etc. Without approval, the bands aren’t able to go for their consular appointment in order to have the visas “stamped” into their passports. Yes, the consulates overseas need appointments for artists to show up and bring their passports. Bureaucracy at its finest. Milton went as far as contacting the office of Senator Rich Blumenthal (CT, his state of residence), as he has assisted us with visa matters in the past. Their office immediately jumped in to try and assist getting those petitions approved.

    The Bad News:

    Even though SECRET SPHERE and ANCIENT BARDS have had their visa petitions APPROVED FOR WEEKS, the delays caused by said agency in processing visas across the board this year have caused the consulates overseas to be backed up as well. And because of that, neither of those bands were able to secure appointments at their consulate in Milano. We reached out to different consulates to request an expedited appointment due to urgent circumstances. We went as far as reaching out to the consulate office in Zurich (Switzerland) to try and help those guys get their visas. Senator Blumenthal’s office tried to step in again and help. Sadly, this was all in vain. We regret informing that those bands will not be making it to ProgPower USA, again, EVEN THOUGH THEIR VISA PETITIONS HAVE BEEN APPROVED. This is one of the worst situations we have ever been put in, as both us and the bands have essentially lost a large amount of money between non-refundable visa petitions, expedite fees for visa petitions and flights. We reiterate that the bands did everything within their reach to make it possible, as did we. We have no option but to announce both Secret Sphere and Ancient Bards will not perform at ProgPower USA this year for that reason.

    Nathan and I have never faced such adversity in all these years, both when we did individual shows or united for days 1&2. This year has been a nightmare in terms of visas. The delays and the inefficient process have caused us headaches and losses, both financially and otherwise. We’re truly sorry for the changes, but again, we have done everything that was in our reach.

    With all that said, we will continue our tradition of making lemonade out of lemons and have secured impressive replacements given how close we are from our show. We hope everyone understands the position we have been put in and enjoy their sets. Major kudos go to them for stepping up to the plate at the last second. Big thanks to both Secret Sphere and Ancient Bards for being pros throughout the entire process. We will make sure to get them over here sooner or later.

    Onto the Good News:

    We are happy to report that both INSOMNIUM and GALNERYUS both had their visa petitions approved and were able to secure their appointments in time. Insomnium was at their consulate this last week, while Galneryus will visit theirs later this week. This gives both bands enough time to have their passports returned and not miss our show.

    We also would like to welcome Theocracy and While Heaven Wept to our show this year. Both bands are ProgPower USA alumn and deserve huge props for accepting the challenge and making arrangements to make this happen. Theocracy keeps getting dozens of requests year after year to bring their melodic power metal back to our stage. As for While Heaven Wept, two days ago they weren’t sure the band would ever play together again. When I approached them about doing this, they went above and beyond to make this happen for their US fans, one last time. I have zero doubt both bands will deliver sets that transcend expectations and will be remembered for a long time. Both bands will issue exclusive updates, expanding on the news.

    Thanks everyone for understanding, and for still continuing to support us over the years. See you in two weeks.

    Milton & Nathan
     
    NorseBlood, Kez and Blackcastle like this.
  2. MetalShock

    MetalShock Dissident Aggressor

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    Shame that these situations continue to arise and cause so much stress and problems. Props to you guys for finding such solid replacements that were willing to step up in Theocracy and While Heaven Wept. I'm excited for WHW and also the other changes on Wednesday. To be honest, Wednesday and Saturday now are the days I'm looking forward to the most. Great job guys.
     
  3. Fixxer315

    Fixxer315 Member

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    It's a shame. Can we blame President Trump?
     
  4. Blackcastle

    Blackcastle New Metal Member

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    Speaking for my group --

    1. Many thanks to Milton, Nathan, Glenn & Jen for all that you do!

    2. We were excited about AB and SS. Please consider them for future years.

    3. We are VERY EXCITED about While Heaven Wept and Theocracy. Great job adding them. Can't wait for the next two weeks to go by!!
     
  5. KingsGene

    KingsGene God of Thunder

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    Bummed about Secret Sphere, but excited about the returns of Theocracy and While Heaven Wept. Thanks for all of your collective efforts....the show must go on!
     
  6. jtm288

    jtm288 New Metal Member

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    Narrowly avoided complete disaster, but it's still a massive disappointment to lose two of the bands I was most looking forward to in the first two days. Perhaps the festival would need to just budget for the premium fees going forward. I appreciate that you guys are doing your best, and didn't ask for this, but I have to admit I'm not just upset at USCIS here. Fairly or not, having four bands fall off and two more barely make it in time, I have to admit it severely impacts my confidence in this half of the festival and the possible future of this festival after XXV.
     
  7. HoneyBadger68

    HoneyBadger68 New Metal Member

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    clearly these issues have zero to do with the promoters and EVERYTHING to do with the bureaucracy of the USCIS. Your anger is misplaced
     
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  8. Purveyor Of Evil

    Purveyor Of Evil Heavy Metal, INC.

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    Very harsh. I have attended until this year, fifteen straight Progpowers. Never have I seen a promoter and his crew and everyone else involved in the festival ever give less than 120% when it comes to providing the absolute best experience possible. Not to mention being a gold badge holder the last few years. More than worth it. I kind of take it personally when someone expresses anger or bitches about what they don’t fully have the knowledge. Also, the cost of all four days is a ridiculous bargain for 20 bands. Please do not rag the wonderful people who take care of us the entire festival until you know the whole story.
     
  9. jtm288

    jtm288 New Metal Member

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    I appreciate that people want to be supportive, and obviously the primary obstacle is USCIS, but after a bear attack, it's more productive to examine what left you vulnerable to the bear than to complain about the bear itself. The promoters have told you themselves they did not anticipate the delays or premium fees that would be required. I've closely followed every update they've made available, and I feel like I've been supportive and patient with the changes up to this point. I'm genuinely trying to be fair to them, but yes, I'm upset.

    I wish I weren't disappointed with the festival, but as I believe in honest feedback, and have not seen my point of view represented in discussions, I just don't think it would be right for me to pretend otherwise. I feel they made an honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. If they're going to continue Days 1 and 2, I just hope that they plan around what they have learned this year, perhaps signing fewer international acts so they can actually deliver on what they do book, without having to hold our breath until a week before the festival to find out which bands actually make it. These delays and higher fees are the new normal, and it would be insane to proceed as if they weren't.

    Now it's time to listen to some Theocracy and WHW and try to get excited again.
     
  10. Purveyor Of Evil

    Purveyor Of Evil Heavy Metal, INC.

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    Man, you just don’t get it.
     
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  11. HoneyBadger68

    HoneyBadger68 New Metal Member

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    he does not
     
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  12. zinescene

    zinescene Member

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    I personally love the international flare that Glenn brings to the festival and while it has been an odd year it's still exciting to have bands from Sweden, Japan, Finland and other countries playing here. Where else are we going to get exclusive sets and one off shows of bands that would otherwise never get the opportunity to play in the USA? Bands like Secret Sphere and Ancient Bards aren't going to tour the USA let alone get an opportunity to play in the USA if it wasn't for Glenn's efforts. I applaud what he's doing as well as Nathan and Milton. I say stick to the formula that's made ProgPower what it is today.
     
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  13. Harvester

    Harvester The Promoter

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    JTM288,

    I completely understand disappointment, frustration, and anger in what happened this year. As a fan, you have every right to express your opinion provided it is in a constructive way. We pride ourselves on being transparent so the fans see the full picture. As a reminder:

    Iron Mask lost their singer. Unable to apply for visa for new vocalist.
    Pretty Maids lost their drummer. Unable to apply for a visa for new drummer. Hell, the rest of the band's visas were approved.
    Wind Rose- Had full tour booked. Their booking agent and professional visa company did their visa application. Unable to satisfy USCIS request regardless of time still available.

    None of these were things were in our control.

    You read the circumstances regarding the application for Insomnium and to a lesser extent, Galneryus. Instead of seeing the insanity in what happened and just how hard Milton and Nathan worked to successfully correct that, you choose to go with the "you should have planned better" option. Fair enough. You bought a ticket and thus, you are allowed to be an armchair quarterback. It's your right.

    I also understand you do not care about Milton and Nathan spending an additional $10,500 on Secret Sphere and Ancient Bards out of their own pocket because they care about the fans and the product. Honestly, they could have just canceled them two months ago and basically gotten the same reaction from you and saved a lot of money. Based on our visa application history, they did everything correctly that worked previously. You disagree with that. Once again, you have the right to express your thoughts just as I have the right to listen carefully to some of them and dismiss others.

    As I said, new measures will be put in place to hopefully prevent situations that arise unexpectedly. However, jacking the price up an extra $30 to cover expedites for all bands will not be a part of it. I built ProgPower USA on international bands and that will continue to be the focus these next five years. I am advising you now that that not everything will go smooth ever year regardless of extensive planning. If these circumstances are not acceptable to you going forward, you have the right to cast your vote against us by not attending the festival. I wish you the best.

    Glenn
     
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  14. NorseBlood

    NorseBlood franks n steins

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    Glenn, Milton, and Nathan. Thanks so much for what you do because clearly its for the love of art, music, and us than it is for anything else.

    To Theocracy and While Heaven Wept: Welcome (back) to ProgPower USA, where you will always be family.

    Edit: 500 pages of evidence per band. That boggles the mind not only in the amount of material, but in the amount time it must have taken to put it all together. Surely nothing would have satisfied such small minded bureaucrats who seem to realize their power, no matter how unjust, by saying "no".

    ** This reminds me of the movie "Ikiru" directed by Akira Kurosawa (1952). If you like classic films, then this is a good one & you'll make the connection.
     
    #14 NorseBlood, Aug 20, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  15. KingsGene

    KingsGene God of Thunder

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    Here's a Facebook post from Play America, aka "visa guy" Marc Gessford:

     
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  16. jtm288

    jtm288 New Metal Member

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    Glenn,

    Thanks for the response, it means a lot. I felt a need to vent. I know you guys have done your best in recent months to try to make it happen, and I really do appreciate it. It pains me that you guys spent all that extra money and it didn't turn out to be enough. I recognize that you, Milton, Nathan, Marc, and everybody else involved took the steps you believed were necessary and based on your extensive experience, expected to be successful. Thank you all for your efforts.

    That said, I, as someone who had followed the festival for over ten years, is coming for the first time this year and hoped to become a regular, do feel that a bump in ticket price would be worth the security in knowing that we will get what we pay for. From my singular perspective, it's a drop in the bucket compared to travel and lodging. And yes, shit happens sometimes, I accept that. Increasing the price and these additional fees would not solve every problem, but I do recall Marc mentioning that if Pretty Maids already had their approvals at the time of cancellation, the drummer change would not have been such an obstacle. To hear that nothing new has been learned from this experience that wasn't already known, or that nothing would be done differently next year under the worsening immigration climate, would have to figure into my decision to attend in the future, as you suggest. I'm encouraged to hear that you have a few new measures to be put into place, with your vast experience in running this festival I trust that you have much better ideas than I do.

    I absolutely accept that my perspective is one tiny blip on the radar compared to yourself, the regular attendees, and everybody who works so hard to make the festival happen. All I could have hoped for is to be heard, considered, and dismissed if I'm wrong. Thank you for taking the time to listen. It shows me why this festival has such a great reputation.
     
  17. Purveyor Of Evil

    Purveyor Of Evil Heavy Metal, INC.

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    Nicely worded daggers.
     
  18. zinescene

    zinescene Member

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    I personally feel that the crew is going about this whole visa thing the wrong way. They should have done there homework: 1. find out who the biggest metal fan is at the USCIS. 2, funnel ALL the applications his/her way along with 2 gold badges and 2 tickets for days 1 & 2 and they'll feel obligated to approve every visa so they can hear all this great music they've been missing out on. :) Problem solved
     
  19. KingsGene

    KingsGene God of Thunder

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    Blackcastle likes this.
  20. Blackcastle

    Blackcastle New Metal Member

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