14.04.2013

Dunk Festival [29-31.03.2013 | Zottegem, Belgium]

FESTIVAL-REVIEW:

Since I am German, writing a big report in English isn't the easiest thing to do for me. But because the festival was international it decided that everyone should be able to read it. So ignore the mistakes please ;)

Its few days after the legendary dunk!festival and i am back at work. Time to collect my thoughts and write down the impressions of those magical Easter days in Zottegem.






Day 1

On friday i started my drive to belgium – the plan was to catch the first band What The Blood Revealed. My drive was supposed to be 5 hours, but it turned out to be 8,5 - thanks Bruxelles.
So i missed the band. Pretty exhausted i arrived as the second band played. Missed them also. The third band i had to catch - its Kokomo from Germany. Finally i would get the chance to see them live, i wonder why it never worked out in the homeland...
I got to the ticket-office and exchanged my printed qr-code for a nice looking, black wristband. No lines, no problems - everything was totally uncomplicated and quick. That was my first impression of the dunk-crew and their perfect organisation, which continued throughout the whole festival-time.
I had few minutes left before Kokomo would get on stage, so i had a look at the venue. Its an indoor-festival which held place in a modern sports-complex. There was the "Downstairs-Stage" with a big, festival-like stage and the "Upstairs-Stage" which was a smaller stage for more intimate concerts, without a fence and fancy lighting. Also at the Upstairs-Area was the restaurant and a room for the merch.

Now it was time for my first concert. Kokomo played on the big Downstairs-Stage. The concert went really well, i was amazed by the sound and the lights and could really enjoy the show. Definitely a band that i should have tried to see live much earlier, considering that their albums are perfect and they are from Germany as well. On the other hand, i could not get a better first impression then this performance on the professional dunk-stage. Looking forward to visit more concerts of them:
8/10



Live-Video:



I was REALLY curious for the next gig i had on my list. It was Stephen O Malley, member of Sunn O))). I had the luck to finally see Sunn live in Berlin few weeks ago, and of course it was awesome, so i was pretty excited for some new drones. The wall of amps that stood on the stage wasn't as impressive as the Sunn-setup but that was to be expected.



After some time waiting (the only time at the whole festival), Stephen went on stage and had something to say. He was very sorry but due to new laws, the sound cant go over 100db, he can not play his planned set. He pointed at a dark corner and said "police officers standing there and monitoring the sound, i am not kidding.". Of course he did not want to get anyone in trouble so he had to improvise and play a "quiet" set. Unsurprisingly, it didn't really worked out for me. I guess my recent Sunn-Experiance wasnt helping - but the feeling of the bass was not really impressive, and that is the key to get into this special trance-mood. It wasnt Stephens fault – of course 100dB are much less impressive then the 120-130db of a Sunn O))) Show. So he tried to make the best of the situation, and i was still glad that i have seen him play a solo-show.
Stephen O' Malley 7/10
Belgian Law 0/10




Live-Video:



The last concert i planned to see on the first day, was The Black Heart Rebellion. I couldnt stop listening to their newest release "Har Nevo" after it got out, so i was really looking forward to their show. The stage was crammed with stuff and instruments and the dramatic lighting promised an spectacular show. And it was! Like on their new record, they opened with "Avraham" which is perfect for the beginning, and set the mood for the rest of their intense show. Overall it was a real great concert with an eerie feel to it. A perfect closure for the first night.
Next TBHR concert is already marked in my calendar (together with the mighty Maserati), i just cant get enough of it:
9/10



Live-Video:



Although i had planned to see more shows on the first day, i knew i had lots of great concerts scheduled for the next days. I was just to tired from the travelling, so i needed the breaks between the big concerts at the downstairs-stage to relax. This system worked out well for me for the whole festival, although i missed most shows at the upstairs-stage, but i decided to enjoy the music and not to make an marathon of bands out of the experience.
Because the temperatures dropped below zero at the night, the organizers offered the people who planned to camp (me!), to stay indoors at a small part of the downstairs-venue. I gladly took this offer, same as the majority of the other campers. A few survivalists still slept outside as it seemed, but regarding me being a bit sick, this was never an option for me. Luckily for the people who decided to stay indoors, it looked like everyone really intended to sleep. And because annoying drunk guys are a total rarity at the dunk festival and post-rockers are civilized, it was dark and quiet within minutes.




DAY 2

The night was much shorter then everyone had wished for. You're at dunk!festival, so the dunk!festival decides how long you can sleep. Which is exactly 8 hours. Fair enough. Everyone packed their stuff and went to the restaurant for breakfast. I went to town and organized my own, because the organizers didnt really matched my taste, but no one could complain. They offered self-made nutella-sandwiches and coffee for free, as much as you want. Yes, FOR FREE. The bread, every morning, the coffee, at all times. What an service. Truly amazing people those organizers.
After breakfast i took a little bonus nap in my car, because there was still time before the first band would start.

At 13.30 i walked half awake to the first band of the day: Valerinne. I liked their record already beforehand, but overwhelmed me live quite a bit. Perfect for waking up. They played an awesome show, and i especially like their different drumming, which reminded me almost of deathrockish drums at some points, very unique:
8/10



Live-Video:



Next band i saw was Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving. Not knowing much of them, i was up for a surprise, and what a big one! Let me put it this way: they won me over in the first minute and i can fairly say, that they are the biggest discovery for me at this festival. The concept of mixing post-rock with piano, is not new, but i have never seen it performed like in this concert. The pianist was smashing the keys as if he was an drummer. Insane energy! This made the whole concert very entertaining, but of course also the music itself was awesome. I am very glad i attended their first ever show in Europe and i hope i will have the chance to see them live much more in the future:
9,5/10



Live-Video:



After this exciting show i went upstairs to have a glimpse at the concert of [Bolt]. I was happy to see that all people sat down on the ground to get in the perfect mood for a drone-session. Great that this works with the audience of this festival, sitting on the floor at a drone-/ambient-show just makes the concert-experience perfect, but it never was an option at various concerts i have attended in the past - but i surely wished for it.



I was too pumped for drones (means relaxing) right now, so i skipped this show and went to the downstairs-stage to wait for Kwoon to play.

I totally dig the album "The Guillotine Show" of Kwoon, so i was excited to see them live. I was really looking forward to their performance, especially "Emily Was A Queen" which can be described as a grand post-rock opera. But after the first songs, i realized that this show wasnt as epic as i imagined. Maybe i suspected too much, but their live-set just didnt worked out for me. I am not really sure what was wrong, but i was missing the power behind the riffs - the whole show a general soft mood to it, and even the outbursts seemed weak to me. I am sure lots of other people enjoyed it, the band seemed like nice guys, but i was a bit disappointed:
6,5/10



Live-Video:



After a longer break i went upstairs to see Fire Walk With Us. I listened for their records like a maniac beforehand, so this concert was a must. They play more post-metal then post-rock which was a nice change of direction that day. The shows on the upstairs-stage seem way less impressive, which basically has to do with the lack of professional lights but still, FWWU played an awesome show. The intimacy of this small stage really worked well for them - it was a very energetic show. I loved the harshness of their music and the doublebass-parts were just perfect. The audience got bigger with every track and they received an well deserved big applause at the end. Hope to see them again:
9/10



Live-Video:



Then my highlight of the evening took place downstairs: Maserati. I had never seen them live so i was curious on what to expect. Their show was pretty focused on the drums so, he drummer was placed close to the audience in the middle of the stage, the guitarists on the left and the right. The light-engineer really gave its best at this show, making it look like an slick 80s action-movie. What i didnt expect was how powerful Maseratis guitars come across at some time - almost creating walls of noise at the peak of the songs. Like “A Place To Bury Strangers combined with Knight Rider" would be a good description for a Maserati-concert. I was very satisfied with the show and will see them live again very soon - and so should you:
10/10





Live-Video:



Normally my second festival-day would have been over at this point, but since i planned on sleeping indoors again at the downstairs-stage i had to wait until the last concert was done.
The last show happened to be from Drums Are For Parades. A band i have never heard of before so i wondered why they were placed at the headlining timeslot. According to the much smaller audience then at the concerts before, i wasnt alone with that. But since i had nothing better to do I i watched the concert. They played some Turbonegro-type of metal and i am sorry to say, it did not work for me. They felt out of place at this festival. Or maybe you need to be from belgium to get it.




After the concert the hall cleared quickly and everyone went to set up camp for the night. A certain routine set in so i could go to sleep even quicker then the day before.


Day 3

On the last day we even had just 7 hours sleep until the lights got switched on. But this was the fault of the time zone shift.
I was very exhausted, so after packing up my stuff, the first thing to do this day, was to move to the car to get some more sleep. Luckily i had some time left and the temperatures were already warmer outside.

Few minutes before the first concert on my schedule, i woke up. The band i was waiting for was Heirs, one of the main-reasons i drove to this festival. Their early timeslot was not very complimentary, so i hoped it still would work out well for them, with a crowd of sleepy metalheads in the front-rows.
Last time i've seen heirs was an amazing experience: they played in an unused wine-cellar in Esslingen. Best venue ever, small but intimate, with the perfect dark mood and a dusty dirt-floor. This surely was hard to top, but regarding the big and professional stage at the dunk!festival i had high hopes as well. And i wasnt disappointed. Heirs played a set right out of hell. With extreme fog for the first tracks their shadowy presence appeared very mighty on the red coloured stage.



They definitely have been the most serious and badass band at this festival. I loved the expressions of those people in the audience who certainly hadnt seen them before and therefore probably didnt knew what to expect.
This was again a Heirs-show i will keep in mind for a long time, seems like those guys never disappoint. It was truly a remarkable ritual, so unique with a novel style of the light-engineer - a true genius.
I will see them again every time i have the chance, luckily i have already 2 more dates added to my calendar for this year. Without a surprise it was a:
10/10



Live-Video:



Unfortunately the festival-life showed its effects. I was more tired then awake and my breaks got longer and longer. I mean we have been lucky that it was no hot summer-festival. But still - spending whole days just watching concerts gets very exhausting. Therefore i skipped lots more bands then i usually had planned. I wanted to see much more, but then i decided i just concentrate on the bands i was really looking forward to, but therefore somewhat relaxed.

So skipping 3 bands, i was ready for My Education. I love their records so i surely looked forward to their gig, but on the same time, they had a hard slot, playing right after Heirs. And this was a bit of a problem. No band at this festival had the power and stage-presence like Heirs, so the show of My Education was just a simple concert without a wow-effect at that time. But nevertheless, i enjoyed it very much, they just know how to play their instruments. Lots of songs of their newest record got played, and the show got better with every song. The projections worked really well and fitted perfectly for the big stage. I knew i had to see them again without all the impressions of the festival, and gladly i did it a week later (read review here). The gig at the dunk!festival gets a proper:
8,5/10



Live-Video:



So, with my permanent condition of being tired, it fitted perfectly to catch the show of Syndrome. Being a member of Amenra, the one-man-band already got my attention beforehand, but i had no time to give his music a listen in advance. So i went to the upstairs-stage without any expectations. Which turned out to be a good thing, because apparently the show works perfectly if you dont know what you will witness.
Everyone sat down on the floor, so i got in the mood of a relaxing hour of sitting and listening. Exactly what my tired bones needed.



He went on stage, sat down and began with his looping drones and ambient sounds in front of moody projections. The ambient part overtopped the drones so i got into a sleepy mode and even nodded of for a few minutes at the half of the set. It was just too relaxing. Just half awake i followed the last minutes of the show until i got a big wake up call. Suddenly, out of nothing, after setting the audience in a relaxing trance-mode for about 40 minutes, some harsh riffing guitars set it. This took me (and probably some others in the audience) totally by surprise which definitely had a great effect. Big walls of rhythmic industrial noise and hard metal got unloaded over the poor sleepy people on the floor. This truly could not have had a better timing. the unexpected loud sounds created a real musical experience, a concert with a twist, that you cant reproduce in that way. You just had to be a part of it. I will keep this show in mind for a long time:
9,5/10


The last concert for me and the closing show for the festival, was iliketrains at the downstairs-stage. I had seen them few months before in Cologne so i knew what to expect. After having some technical issues on stage (which no one really bothered) they delivered an awesome show. Only thing i dont get, is why is the voice of the singer always not loud enough? I mean always because in Cologne i had the same issue, but then again, maybe the band wants it that way. Besides that and some minor technical difficulties at the beginning the concert was just perfect. Their setlist was phenomenal, no fillers - just killers. And i had their last concert much more quiet in my mind, maybe they played a special more post-rock oriented show for this occasion- very powerful. They totally nailed it and ended the festival with a bang:
9,5/10



Live-Video:



I can summarize the dunk!festival as the best festival i've ever been to (a lot). Everything just worked out well and there was an very friendly mood in the air all the time. Plus i remember that i only saw 2 drunks at the whole festival, the audiences main goal was certainly the music. Post-rockers seem to be the best bunch (friendly and civilized) of people anyways. I was really surprised that no security was needed, so no one checked your bags, you were allowed to take glassbottles, food, cameras etc inside – but it worked out. Sure, someone could have taken advantage of that or get some stupid ideas, but no one did, because everyone in the audience was a serious music enthusiast. I am proud of the scene and the organizers for the trust they had and that they got proved right. The first festival i visited without any kinds of troublemakers or problems.
Hard to believe actually that such an great festival seems to be so unknown. Everyone interrested in the music should definitely change that and be there next year.

Where else do you get this:
- Perfet flawless organisation
- Almost no waiting-time before the shows
- No overlapping bands
- Great sound
- Spectacular Lightshow (The light-engineer should get a medal btw.)
- Free Coffe
- Free Breakfast
- Free (fast) Wifi
- Free Powerstations to charge your batteries
- Free Sleepingplaces
- Clean Toilets - No Dixies!
- Lockers
- No long distances between the venues
- Bring your own food & drinks if you want
- You are allowed to film and take pictures - even with dslrs
- And last but not least: a great collection of bands .

So a big thanks you for the organizers for creating such a great festival, please continue.
I am a regular visitor for now on. Until next year.




Much more Live-Videos from this Festival on my Youtubechannel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/EraserTunes/

A lot more Photos on my Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Erasertunes

Kommentare:

  1. Schöner Abriss des Festivals.
    Eine Anmerkung noch zu Drums Are For Parades. Ist so eine Art Tradition, dass als letzter Act am Samstag eine Band spielt, die halt was ganz anderes macht als Postrock.
    Fand die jetzt an und für sich auch nicht überragend, aber nach dem ganzen Postrock doch irgendwie erfrischend.

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  2. Danke für das Feedback.
    Das Konzeot find ich super!
    Nur die Band war irgnedwie nicht mein Fall. Vielleicht hab ich nächstes Jahr mehr Glück.

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