The opening act on ProgDay 2014, day 2, was Venezuelan band Backhand. The group had a grueling trip from Caracas. They flew into Miami and drove forever 11 hours to Storybook Farm in North Carolina. At the festival they were joined by Toronto-based vocalist Phil Naro (Druckfarben), who flew in from Canada.
Backhand is a Venezuelan supergroup comprised of some of the best musicians in the Venezuelan music scene. Even though they come from diverse backgrounds such as jazz and hard rock, their intention is to be the best progressive rock group in Venezuela.
Band members include Pablo Mendoza on guitar, Adolfo Herrera on drums and percussion, Oscar Fanega on bass, and Adrian van Woerkom on keyboards.
Although the band’s concert contained some hard rock and blues-rock, most of their material leans toward symphonic progressive rock. The instrumental tracks revealed masterful guitar hero-style solos, great keyboard arrangements, outstanding bass lines, and a vibrant rhythm section. Most of the material performed at ProgDay 2014 came from the band’s debut album Through the Turbulence.
Phil Naro provided vocals in a handful of songs. Although I remember him sounding like Jon Anderson in Druckfarben, his live performance also showed Robert Plant influences. In fact, at a certain the band drifted towards a great Led Zeppelin vibe.
Backhand’s music has a socially conscious message, with lyrics that show their concern for the environment, hunger and other maladies.
The future of this band is uncertain. Guitarist Pablo Mendoza, who runs a music school in Venezuela, is considering moving to Madrid (Spain).