Prog The Forest Festival 2023 in London

Hats Off Gentleman It’s Adequate

Flute, Cello, Chapman stick, Violin, juggling balls, lots of time signatures, and unconventional key changes? It can only mean one thing. It’s time for a prog-themed festival, this time something a little smaller and more communal organised by the people behind Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate, as well as London Prog Gigs.

Raising money for World Land Trust, Prog The Forest is a one-day festival at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden, London.

With a variety of prog-rock acts on offer, the day was filled with contrasting acts, musicians of all ages, subgenres, and varying instrumental combinations. Here’s the full lineup below!

Unfortunately as these things go, there were a few dropouts from bands last minute – entirely outside of anyone’s control. So it did mean the lineup changed a bit with no sighting of The Blackheart Orchestra or This Winter Machine, replacements on offer led to us getting a set from Kindred Spirit Band who were the first act I caught of the day thanks to varying train strikes making it a challenge to get into town… Sorry EBB – but hopefully next time!

Kindred Spirit Band

Walking into the festival I was immediately greeted with a sense of community seeing many happy faces enjoying the music on offer. Kindred Spirit Band were setting up on stage and I’d already spotted a flute, as well as a saxophone. Oh goody, I thought.

And in their second track, there was an incredible sax solo adding great flavour to their music. Reminiscent of bands like Caravan, although possibly just because of the aforementioned extended wind solos, they still covered some quite serious topics in their music, closing with a 4 song suite about having a psychotic break.

I think my favourite track of theirs however was Dragonfire which had a catchy chorus to join in.

Ebony Buckle

Ebony Buckle was up next and had possibly the most unique performance of the day. Accompanied by a duo of ballet dancers, acoustic guitars and cello, Ebony has a far more melancholic approach to her work – similar to artists like Anathema, or Exploring Birdsong. Showcasing songs from her release Disco Lasers, it definitely perked the attention of the audience (and myself!).

The dancing certainly added some wonderful atmosphere to the accompanying music, making the entire performance far more dramatic than anything else on the day. I’d love to see more artists integrate this into their stage shows in the future.


Guranfoe then took the stage after a brief shifting around of equipment. An instrumental band formed in 2012, they only released their debut album Sum of Erda in 2019. Plenty of moving parts, clever harmonic transitions, as well as being a tight performance.

Playing just three songs in their set, each one was length with a jam feel to it with the members playing off of each other between sections, taking solos, and having fun. They were something a bit different, and a good end to the first half of the festival.

A short break in the schedule allowed patrons to acquire food, as well as gave the evening’s entertainment time to set up. And with The Blackheart Orchestra off the table, alternate arrangements were made to keep the night going.

Hat’s Off with special guests

Starting off with some covers with an assortment of musicians, Hats Off Gentleman It’s Adequate took to the stage with some impromptu covers from Guns n Roses, and Radiohead. It showed a great sense of community of the festival too, especially when Chris Parkins, the man behind London Prog Gigs got on stage to join in singing too. Even unconventional juggling was on offer on the crowded stage too as an unnamed entertainer began twisting juggling balls around her hand in a rather mesmerising fashion. I’m not entirely sure why, but I certainly couldn’t look away!

Hats Off then moved on to some solo material before another last-minute stand-in took to the stage, Storm Deva. A duo formed of piano and clean guitar bringing us into the world of far softer music. And with only one track out on streaming services, there isn’t much to say at this point. But their debut self-titled record is certainly on the way, as they had plenty of material to share during their set.

Hats Off came back once again to play some more of their original material, Chapman stick in tow. It was impressive how much they managed to put together to extend their set at short notice to keep the crowd entertained, and I think that is the true definition of a skilled musician. Someone that can come together under stressful circumstances to cap off a fantastic one day festival.

Prog The Forest 2023 raised £2100, to be donated to the World Land Trust for their work protecting threatened rainforests and other vulnerable habitats. (Source: Prog The Forest Facebook Page)

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