CHICAGO — Attendees of this year’s Prog-A-Thon Talent Metal Festival were confused to see Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy playing on a separate, much bigger stage than the rest of his bandmates, festival staff confirmed.
“Yeah, I didn’t really know what was going on at first,” noted Dream Theater fan Christian Westbrook. “They started assembling Portnoy’s kit from the back of the stage… but it just kept growing until eventually it reached the front of the stage. I got worried that the entire set would be one long drum solo.”
Adjacent to the Norelco Thunderchops Main Stage, where Portnoy was getting ready to play, staff were setting up the rest of the members of Dream Theater on the Little Debbie Up ‘N Comers Side Stage.
“What do I think about the setup? I think it’s pretty fucking ridiculous, man!” snarled a sweaty Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess. “I mean, I have seven keyboards — seven. They can barely even fit on the stage! And my custom-made, signature Keytar is literally resting on a stack of kegs from the beer tent next to the stage. Portnoy needs to reign that shit in!”
Organizers did share some insight into their planning for such a complex band arrangement.
“I’ll have you know, we certainly learned our lesson from last year,” remarked festival organizer Gunther Roth. “We simply were not equipped to handle the sheer magnitude of Portnoy’s drum set at the time — our stage manager convinced Portnoy to reduce his kit by 75 percent, leaving him with a bare-bones, no-frills 130 piece drum set. We vowed not to make the same mistake again.”
Following the end of a blistering set from the prog metal icons, Portnoy was seen exiting the stage into his double-decker luxury tour bus, while the other band members were hurried into their U-Haul cargo van.
Photo by Rodrigo Della Fávera