Dunk! 2016 festival review + live media

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Dunk 2016 reviewSo… Dunk! 2016 festival is a wrap. Here’s a review of the gigs I watched, accompanied with a lot of live tracks I recorded during this magical festival.

The festival

Before I traveled to Zottegem, I read an interesting (Dutch language written) article about the current state of festivals. Deviating from the very foundations of a true festival with lots of distractions, youth getting entertained instead of entertaining themselves, lots of commercialism and so on. Well, I’m happy to say that the Dunk! festival is as bare-bones as it can be and that’s the exact reason why this festival is so goddamn awesome. You have a main stage tent, a smaller tent (The Stargazer podium) a common building to relax and eat, some toilet facilities and a camping area and… that’s it! Every euro they earn is spend on the acts, the lighting and the sound-quality and it pays off. This is a festival that’s about music and equal-minded people on a mission to discover the best music the genre has to offer. A small example: I was having a breakfast at my tent and some other guys were playing The End of The ocean and Kwoon from a stereo player. Where in the world is that kind of thing possible?It’s amazing to have all those like-minded people together enjoying the same music and atmosphere. When I’m returning to work, I just can’t explain how good this festival was because a lot of people won’t understand, but hey, let them be. I hope Dunk will stay at their barebones core, because they nail that perfectly. Chapeau! Onward to music!

 

Thursday, may 5

A great day to start the festival. Building up the tent after a rather long drive towards the festival due to very crowded traffic near Antwerp, I was ready for some music and the fantastic Ename blond beer (guys, ditch the Jupiler and go for Ename 🙂  ). With shows of Fall of Messiah, SPOIWO and 65daysofstatic, I will do fine on my mission.

 

1. Fall of Messiah

As a festival opener, these guys were up to their task. Full frontal postrock / -metal and screamo woke everybody up. Eyes and ears were were wide open to experience the beauty of the sound and lighting. They play a nice mix of loud music and screamo in the background full of energy and face-melting music. They announced their latest album and immediately played one of the loudest tracks I witnessed on this festival. Comes highly recommended dor fans of loud and brash postrock / -metal.

 

2. SPOIWO

Here we go again, expressing my love for this band. Well… their journey towards Dunk couldn’t be any better. Mutiny on the Bounty had to cancel their show, so SPOIWO got the opportunity to play on the main stage… wow…! Well deserved as their music is simply stunning. A challenge for the band but also a big opportunity to play on the stage they deserve. They played almost the same set-list as in ‘s-Hertogenbosch on Monday but that was freaking amazing and boy, did they deliver on Dunk. The reaction from the crowd was insane and they received a big applause that lasted on and on. You could tell that the music connected to the massive Dunk audience and I’m sure they sold a lot of shirts and cd’s. I’m so happy that everything came full circle for this band. To quote a good friend of me: “I saw a small band turning big, today!” Michael Kegg from 6Forty project commented to me that he got the same feelings with SPOIWO as with The End of the Ocean last year at Dunk. I talked quite a bit with the band and they were so appreciative towards me for giving them a lot of attention. That’s rather nice to hear, some acknowledgement for the work I do for the genre and to hear that it CAN make a difference for bands. A “coming of age” for this band with the stage and attention they deserve. Just watch the recorded video “YOS” and the reactions afterwards. Simply amazing music by a humble band.


3. Tides from Nebula

One day before Dunk, I heard their new album “Safehaven”  for the first time and what an amazing album that is. I had high hopes they would sell the album at Dunk and yes… In fact, I could be the first buyer of this album because I bought it immediately when the merch-stand opened 🙂 Having high hopes of this gig, the band didn’t truly deliver. We were a bit confused because they played as a three-piece. What’s up with the fourth member? It was loud, damn.. and the lights were bordering on irritation., I just couldn’t watch the stage because of the aggressive lighting. A set-list with loud and uptempo tracks barely with room to breathe. A shame, because the new album and some older work feature songs with a blissful build-up and emotional connection. For me, there was not enough of that during this set. It wasn’t by any means bad, but I saw some earlier performances from the band that were way better. Regardless, the new album is a must buy! A shame they didn’t play a lot of new tracks.


4. 65daysofstatic

In a certain way, it’s pretty odd that this band has the status it has. It’s music that’s sometimes difficult to interpret with weird tempo-shifts and lots of weird noises. But exactly those creative listening experience is the true star of this band. All electronics is played live on stage and the sheer kinetic and energetic vibes pulsing to your body, are hard to resist. Just listen to the bass in the video of “Prisms” below. You don’t only listen to their music, you’ll experience this music with your whole body. A fantastic show with pulsing beats and heavy riffs.


 

Friday, may 6

Lots of bands, perfectly warm weather and good company

1. Illuminine

Very early at 13.00u, the perfect band to wake up with. A beautiful setting with high quality visuals, strings, a trumpet, keys…..a very soothing, nostalgic musical experience to celebrate a new Dunk day with beautiful weather, people and music.

 

2. Sounds Like The End Of The World

Their video for “Free fall” was a bit misleading in preperation for the festival. It’s a cool, positive track that definatle doesn’t sound as the end of the world, but their set-list at Dunk truly DID sound like the end of the world. Much louder, more brass than expected but another example that the Polish Postrock scene is one of the best in the world. Sounds like The End Of The World is another high quality band from Poland. Massive songs, with a lot of rhythm-shifts during their tracks.


3. Kokomo

Before I go to bed, I read for some time and listen to Postrock. With Kokomo, it happens a lot that I hear a random track playing on my radio and I’m thinking “Coll track, which band? It turns out that a lot of times, it’s Kokomo for Germany. Seeing and hearing that guitar-waves at Dunk is awesome. An energetic band with some of the best Postrock of the genre. Infused with the Dunk sound, this band got heads banging.

4. IIVII

The artwork of the solo-project from a Red Sparrowes band member alone, was enough for me to buy the album. Transcendental soundscapes featuring stunning imagery from outer space, this was hallucinating. I sat down in the Stargazer tent and after 10 minutes, I drifted away in a slumber with great soundscapes touching my ears. After a half hour, the set finished without a warning and the whole floor immediately awoke out of a deeply induced trance. A great diversion from the loud, up-tempo postrock on the main stage. This could go on for hours, but it had to end sometimes. A beautiful orchestra of ambient sci-fi for a movie that will never be.


5. Pelican

Damn, from the moment these guys touched their guitars, the crowd was ON! The most raw energy and best guitar-riffs of the festival proudly played by Pelican. these guys are masters of the guitar, in such a way that the always present drums and bass-drums were forced to the background. This was sheer guitar rock and roll and Pelican set the crowd on fire. A fantastic live performance of a masterful band, simply amazing.


6. This Will Destroy You

Well, these guys got mixed reactions because of the look of their performance. While I adore the lighting at Dunk, sometimes, it can be too aggressive. TWDY opted for a much different approach. The main stage was completely dark which created a monochrome look. Both guitarists wore a head-mounted light and.. that’s it! It created a completely different atmosphere then the louder, more brass acts but I thought it went really well along with the music. I love the album “Another Language”  and tracks like Dustism and New Topia were amazing to hear. Masters of crescendos, sound-wise, the show was fantastic. Luckily, I’ve seen them perform live before but for people who watched the for the first time: there was not a lot to watch! I loved the almost romantic  atmosphere and a nice thing was that they started 5 minutes early and played for 10 minutes longer. We had maximum TWDY love and their music is simply stunning, all the more when you hear them live. Beware for the video below: while the music is great, there’s not a lot to see 🙂


Saturday, may 7

Last day of Dunk with even hotter weather and sun! Me, my girl and a good friend of mine went for a walk through the nice forest area, so I missed the first gigs. A bit of  a shame, but the most important feature on a festival is to enjoy in a relaxing atmosphere. If I want to see and hear everything, it’s just too much. I kind of liked the one hour+ walk with the festival music on the background and comes highly recommended for future Dunk visitors.

 

1. Upcdownc

I saw the two years ago at Dunk and it was the set I had the most fun with. This year, it was exactly the same. Those guys have a kind of charisma that keeps me glued to the stage and enjoy their music. Now together as a three-piece, they still deliver Postrock infused with stoner, that packs a punch. Highly energetic and just plain awesome live music, they owned the stage. I recorded their final track and to me, this was the best track I’ve heard on this version of Dunk! A 13 minutes epic piece with great electronics, riffs and drums that cements the fact that this one hell of a live band. Great guys, great music and I happily sponsored them, buying their latest album.


 

2. Nordic Giants

My biggest surprise of the festival. I didn’t know these guys, but this was visually -by far- the most stunning gig of the festival. The two members – in full costume- sat opposite of each other for maximum viewing pleasure of the big screen. In front of the stage, they put down a big tv featuring imagery of the different vocalists for their song. It was a sight to behold with well produced video, lots of electronics, spoken words and high energy. Nordic Giants created atmospheric and emotional tracks that had me in their grip. Amazing stuff that surprised the hell out of me.


3. Collapse Under The Empire

A band that started in 2009 and that has never played live. That’s weird, not? You would think that live performing your own music is the best thing on earth. Still, it’s the hones truth if you have to believe the text in the Dunk festival guide. Collapse Under The Empire creates lovely postrock with great synth soundscapes. After a rather stress-full sound-check (that’s also a first for them, live!) the audience could never hear or see that this is their first live gig. A very solid performance with great music, that hopefully, invites them to play a hell of a lot more live gigs. The music deserves that. The weird thing was, after the gig, they didn’t came back on stage to receive the awesome amount of applause. they just disappeared off the stage. Well, maybe they try to keep the live performance as a exclusive thing. The sheer amount of applause was well deserved.


Final Thoughts

Wait, what!? No Yndi Halda, No Russian Circles, what the..!? Sorry guys, due to our own schedule, we left the festival after the Collapse Under The Empire-gig. Plans, schedules, et cetera… but we were fulfilled, psyched and happy the way things are. We witnessed another fantastic Dunk festival and we would like to thank everyone that made this festival possible. It’s refreshing, captivating and stunning… Quite possibly the best weekend of the year due to the music, people, atmosphere and weather. See you next year, enjoy the live videos. Thanks for reading!

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