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Dunk!Festival 2012 Review and Photos

Dunk! Festival started up as something really small and intimate but has now managed to attract a good amount of post-rock fans from all over the world, while still maintaining the aroma of a family get together. That’s probably because the fans and the bands are housed all in the same place in the very rustic hostel called De Populier, so there are no boundaries set to interactions and well being. But let’s talk a little bit about what happened.

Day 1

After the first two bands that managed to infuse the sense of melancholy and wonder into the crowd, Omega Massif from Germany stepped on stage. They were immersed in complete dark, only a couple of blue lights flickered vaguely at their feet. The energy they projected through the obscurity was earth shattering and one could feel every accord they played deep within the mass of cells in the body. I just loved their unique way of blending aggressive post-metal with the heaviness of drone passages.

This Will Destroy You were next. I had high expectations for this band, as they were among the reasons why I decided to fly to Belgium in the first place. They played a decent enough show, their post-rock orchestrations sounded correct and powerful, but I did not intercept any deep feelings coming from the guys. It was a bit too calculated. Although the cassette player brought a vintage touch tot their show.

Next off we had the headliner of the evening, Pelican. Probably the main band I was expecting to see at this festival, playing their well-known US post-metal with catchy low tone riffs and energetic stage performance. I personally appreciated the simplicity in their looks, all the concentration being focused on their music rather than in their fashion. Omega Massif and Pelican alone were worthy of the trouble of coming to the festival and this was just the first day.

Day 2

On day two I had the pleasure of discovering how mind blowing a relatively unknown band can sound on stage. But first off we had Alright The Captain’s decently played post-rock from the UK and Kasan, a German band that has been making furors with their latest album entitled “Drown” which incidentally was released by dunk! records. I wasn’t impressed with them much, nevertheless. They play the generic type of post-rock you hear these days and they did not manage to fully capture me.

I cannot state the same for the following band. Coming from Italy, Lento is a little known band, but what they managed to do on the dunk! stage surpassed my wildest expectations. They gave it all: energy, creativity and so much intensity my head felt like exploding into million pieces. Maybe some of you are familiar with black metal bands like Velvet Cacoon or Blut aus Nord. Well imagine a post-metal version of that. It was heart retching. After the show I proceeded to go up to the merchandise stand to buy a t-shirt, but in just a short 10 minutes they were all sold out. I guess they deserve it.

Next off I had to cool down, with a Portuguese band I knew and resonated with. The Allstar Project are more inspirational in their music approach than in picking out their band names. They play a lovely, ethereal, almost romantic version of cinematic post-rock which I find very endearing. From the UK, we had Vessels, which for me constituted one of the discoveries of the festival. I had not heard them previously, but their innovative type of post-rock meets math-rock captured my attention for the entire show. I am certainly going to be following these guys from now on.

The headliner of the evening for me were If These Trees Could Talk from the United States which also released a brand new album in 2012 called “Red Forest”. So we had the chance to listen to a lot of new songs of this airy and fragile post-rock band while the stage was immersed in a stream of lights. A pure delight!

Day 3

The last day of the festival kickstarted with a band that I found really interesting, San Diablo, a local band with a heavy stoner sound mixed with melodic harmony. Next it was something that sounded a little bit more different than what we have been hearing for the past two days. A one man band, My Empty Phantom, explores the creativity of talented American composer Jesse Beaman. An overall interesting show as Jesse managed to fill the room with melodies and provoking sounds by using different instruments such as pianos, guitars, drums and samples.

Next we had Terraformer from Belgium also signed at dunk! records, who managed to offer a curious experience. They played in the middle of the crowd. They were so close to you, you could go up to them and embrace them. Lovely combination of math rock, post-rock, experimental and post-metal. My only complaint, the crowd was pretty dead, no one was going crazy and everything felt too peaceful for such a band. They were one of the best performances at the festival.

Sky Architects from Denmark filled in another position of well played post-rock, but quite rudimentary and so did Late Night Venture with their shoegaze/indie rock approach. I don’t know what’s the big deal with The Samuel Jackson Five but everybody seems to love them a lot. I found them a little bit boring and repetitive so I took the liberty of going upstairs to the merchandise stand to spy on some Atlantis goodies.

Atlantis from Netherlands were up next. I have loved this band from the first time I lay hands on the “San Diablo” EP- their style is so shifting, nothing gets boring (I don’t know if there is any connection with the band that open the 3rd day but I found the name coincidence kind a funny). One minute you hear ethereal, the next you plunge into post-rock, post-metal or psychedelic, so I waited breathlessly for their show to begin. And it was oh so wonderful. Especially since they started their sound check with a little passage from a song I love so dearly “I’m your addict little miss cocaine”. The only regret I have is that I did not hear “Mascara”, well, maybe next time! Following the complete exhaustion Atlantis left me in, I managed to pick myself up and try and find a place in front of the stage for SleepMakesWaves from Australia.

The guys were pretty excited to be in Belgium as this was the first show they played outside their country. They too have a new album out entitled “…And So We Destroyed Everyhting” so they played a lot from the new album. I was disappointed because we did not see any orchestration on stage and some of my favorite songs from them have cellos and violins. Nevertheless the experience was quite intense; their post-rock is powerful and deep and transcends every single aspect of your human self.

For the absolute headliners of the festival I had to sit down. 65daysofstatic were up next and the venue was getting overcrowded. I confess I am not such a big fan of them, but they had some good songs even if a bit too electronic for my taste. Although their energy on stage and the pleasure of playing which surrounded them made the 65daysofstatic show one of the best live acts that I have recently witnessed. They also had a cute moment at one point when they told the crowd to sit on their knees and jump up at their signal, an irony to some other bands like Prodigy and Korn that use this trick, with this telling people to think on their own and not act like social manipulated sheep!

To state a conclusion: the festival was well organized but I would have digged a little bit of variety in the cuisine and a little bit of more space in the merchandise compartment upstairs. But that’s just water under the bridge when I think about the amazing experience of getting to see so many talented bands under one single roof. I am certainly going to be considering going again next year. While leaving the venue I glanced at this sticker glued on the wall and found it quite appropriate for the end: “Nothing but hope and passion”. That’s right, Dunk! fans!

Here are the photos for the all three days of the Dunk! Festival.

Day 1Day 2Day 3

Review: Mindwalker & Vali
Photos: Laurentiu Raducanu & R.A. Photography

3 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Hi, Post-Rock RO !
    It seems strange that our choices were really different ! You seem more sensible to post-metal and stoner stuff, as I prefer aetherial, soft and progressive dreamy bands ! My choices would be Beware of Safety, Samuel Jackson 5, TBTWMUHF, Pelican and Sleepmakeswaves. But of course a lot of these bands were good, even the harder ones.

    S. yours,
    Post-Rock FR (FR like France :) )

  2. Mario

    Very nice review, but what about Steak Number Eight?

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