For the fourth time now, I just have to write my feelings towards this festival again. It's the highlight of the year, a wonderful combination of music, food, like-minded people from around the world and another year of excellent weather. A big shout-out to all the volunteers of the Dunk! family. It's so nice to see the same familiar faces behind the bar, the barbecue, the French fries bar, the kitchen, the coins, the security...Those people are the most important reason Dunk maintains that cosy family-driven atmosphere. There are no incidents, your stuff is safe everywhere, people treat each other with a friendly vibe and it's just the most comfortable festival I've experienced. They have a winning formula on their hands and they execute this formula near perfect. Let's hope it stays this way.
Especially now, because my girl is pregnant for 7,5 months so visiting the festival was a bit of a challenge. No camping this year, but a wonderful B&B (Johan's Lodge, Zwalm) with friendly staff and a beautiful setting. Luckily, a couple of our friends were staying at the Dunk camping so we could enjoy the atmosphere there during the day. Due to the help of some friendly staff members, my girl had a great festival and we both had the feeling we were on a summer holiday, excellent stuff. P.s: dear Dunk, we won't name our child "Dunkie" as suggested multiple times by a volunteer :-)
Every year, I'm impressed by the sound and light setting in the main stage and boy, this year Dunk has gone the distance. A brand new lightning-plan and video wall that supported the fantastic music. Bands like Meniscus and Lost in Kiev not only sounded great, they looked the part too. Atmospheric visuals to accompany the music, is a great way to deliver a fantastic Postrock experience and the Dunk festival made this all possible with a sublime set-up. It was excellent. Onwards to music now!
Thursday, may 25
After a rather good driving experience, we installed ourselves at Johan's Lodge, got the lay of the land and went off to Zottegem for Dunk!
1. Lost in Kiev
Lost in Kiev was the first gig for me, after chatting with some good friends and relax a bit. I was immediately stunned by the fantastic Dunk stage with the lighting and video wall. Lost in Kiev is a great band to show off the new bling bling, because it's a band that uses stylistic imagery that accompanies their dark postrock / post-metal tunes. I saw them at Dunk! 2014, when they just released "Motions" Now, with "Nuit Noire", this French based band matured rather well. Spoken words, beautiful images / videos and dark tunes created an atmospheric and mysterious set that received a nice reception by the Dunk crowd.
2. Mutiny on the Bounty
Not my cup of tea at first, but their live show did the part. Twitchy, math-rock, triphop elements with hints of 65daysofstatic and Maybeshewill, these guys from Luxembourg created a nice live set that's impossible to not move a bit. They had to cancel their show last year, so it's nice to see them now and their energy on the stage is great. Their music should do well with the ASIWYFA crowd.
3. PG Lost
I saw PG lost last year in Tilburg, a s a support act for Mono and Alcest. They only played south of half an hour, but I was impressed nonetheless. No at Dunk, I could witness them playing a full set and it was excellent. To me (and guessing at the reaction from the crowd), this was the first true headliner of the Dunk! 2017 festival. PG Lost opened with the fantastic layered track "Crystalline"(which I happened to record, listen below!) and played some tracks from their latest album called "Versus". During some moments, PG Lost live show reminded me of the epicness of Caspian, a huge compliment. I really liked the chanting as an atmospheric background tune, like God is an Astronaut. A full-fledged live show that I enjoyed for sure!
4. Steak Number Eight
So.. no Emma Ruth Rundle to to health problems (see you next year!), but just hours before Dunk! 2017 started, they announced that Belgium punk / metal / sludge band Steak Number Eight would fill-in the vacant spot. I've seen these guys a couple of times now and I'm always amazed by the energy and intensity of their live show. It's not music I listen to at home, but the live experience is fantastic. Their show was in the Stargazer stage, but it had all the makings of a main stage show. Raw, powerful, kinetic, thrilling. I enjoyed it a whole lot as did the energetic crowd. You gotta love the 70's porn moustache of Brent Vanneste.
No, Swans is not for me. Sorry Dunk, but I didn't think this band was a good fit for this festival. The aggressive atmosphere of their music, the guy next to me who was constantly swinging his arms, banging his head with his fists, screaming like a possessed being..... nope. I can really enjoy sad music, melancholic vibes and end-of-the-world atmospheres, but this is just hatred and that's not what I'm searching for. I hope the die-hard Swans fans enjoyed it though, because they played a long set.
Friday, May 26
Another lovely day for Dunk with some great bands from Australia, man, the line-up is excellent. It turned out that Meniscs was staying at our B&B and I went out for a chat. We Lost the sea had a flat tire, so they were in dire straits because We Lost the Sea had all the Meniscus instruments, oeps! Dunk pressed the vinyl edition of Meniscus's excellent album Refractions, but they didn't know if the album would be on time at the festival (I can tell you, everything went well for these guys) Welcome at touring life! :)
1. All we Expected
I didn't know this band from Belgium, who opened the main stage on the second Dunk day. They played a solid set of Postrock with great riffs and melodic tunes. I was rather impressed by these guys, who played some tracks from their upcoming album. I'm looking forward to discover this band some more. My starting point is their split-album with Raum Kingdom, which I happily bought after their set. Enjoy the video.
The first band of the Australian trio, Dumbsaint, is a band that works hard to reach total immersion and the fantastic visual possibilities of the Dunk stage should work well for them. I struggled a bit, because of the disassociation between the music and the movie they made. Their album "Panorama, in ten pieces" features an accompanying movie and the tracks should set the atmosphere of this movie. I couldn't get a good grip on this idea, mainly because I couldn't figure out what was happening in the imagery. You have to focus on the movie, to completely understand I guess. I would think this would be better if the imagery is a bit more vague, where the music creates the right atmosphere for what's happening on screen. Or: let the flow of the scenes mimic the rhythm of the music. Anyway, it's probably me being a douchebag, because a lot of people were mighty impressed by the performance of Dumbsaint!
Oh boy, Meniscus was possibly my most eagerly anticipated set and they didn't disappoint. If you want to know what a wall-of-sound is, look no further. It's melodic, heavy and atmospheric. They opened with "Doom" form their latest album Refractions and I was immediately into this gig. Fantastic visuals, exploding sounds, energetic band-members and good variety, created a big Dunk! 2017 highlight for me. Heavy riffs, atmospheric space sounds and organic rhythms. It's a s if you put Tides from Nebula, Russian Circles and Jakob in a blender. The result is Meniscus, amazing! Enjoy these recordings!
4. We Lost the Sea
Damn, some conflicting thoughts about this gig. We Lost the Sea is a fan-favorite I guess. They do everything right with their new album. The atmosphere, the concept and theme, the heavy tunes and breathing sections., the artwork... but I just can't really "get" into their latest album. It's annoying and I can't quite grasp why. It's the same with their gig which, for a lot of visitors, is the highlight of Dunk! 2017 and I can understand why... only not for me alas. I could write differently and just say it was amazing and so on, but on a personal level, I would be lying. "A Gallant gentleman" is a fantastic track and I heard enough to try my best and give them another chance when I'm home, because it is quality Postrock. Luckily, I enjoyed the fact that som nay people really loved this performance, so I can single it out as a wider problem, it's just me being picky, sorry.
5. The Best Pessimist
Damn, this was fantastic! A show full with warmth and not only due to the weather. The best Pessimist was so grateful to be heren and share his music with the Postrock crowd. It was an amazing show with full-fledge epic songs. He brought a live band with him, to deliver fantastic set. Evocative and emotional tracks with a heart-warming atmosphere filled the Stargazer with love. Their were some mic problems, but who cared? The positive atmosphere from this guy from Ukraine brought the whole set to another level. I'm a big fan and this could be my fondest memory of Dunk!2017. Just listen to "The Half World"!
Saturday, May 27
The Final day of Dunk! 2017, a day where I made a rational decision to leave early. We had a fantastic time, but I could see my pregnant girlfriend was done for. If I left it up to her, she would love to stay after God is an Astronaut, she was so excited... but I watched her and convinced her to go. It was a good decision and we had a blast nevertheless. So we saw Briqueville, as you can read below, and then drove home. No Mooncake and God is an Astronaut, hopefully next time!
Well, you got to give it to Briqueville to stay in character. Their robes and masks should be hot! The Main stage was a sauna, but Briqueville played anonymous nevertheless. It was a fantastic show with heavy stoner / metal riffs with climax over climax. That's the fun part about Briqueville: loud music and for three or four times when you think the song is over, they keep on adding climax over climax. A multi-layered sound that should be right at its place on the heavy Roadburn festival in Tilburg. After buying two albums, we said goodbye to the Dunk! Festival and drove home happy altogether. See you next year!