Friday, July 22, 2005

dour festival

We went to the Dour festival in Belgium last weekend, Simon had won tickets on popbitch who were hosting a tent there. It was mostly excellent, a smallish site in the countryside, on a farm, near a small town, though i could spot churches in all directions, so it must have been surrounded by various villages. two small bizarre looking hills were overlooking it too. when we arrived it was very hot and the shuttle bus was full of teenagers, lots of fresh faced boys with their shirts off, ready to party. the first field of the campsite was jam packed full already so luckily we managed to find a more peaceful field at the back that still had lots of space at its back end. a good move!

the lineup was very good, with a strong focus on the leftfield, ranging across the genres too, from goth, death metal, dub, acid folk to French ska, hip hop, and beyond, and a lot of cult names representing. So before i forget here's what we saw, plus comments if i have any:


Electrelane: I saw one of their first gigs in Brighton when i still lived there, and have seen them various times, usually in a supporting role, over the years. i always thought there's something a bit po-faced about them, like they're trying too hard and don't have enough personality. this one though had a good groove and was more entertaining than the last time, even though there were sound problems i think.

Devendra Banhart: just great, a beautiful late afternoon, and Devendra very humbly let other band members sing their songs, invited someone from the audience to sing a song, and when the time had run out he insisted to leave the stage. A great set too!

Fantomas: I liked what i heard a lot, and was pleased to see Buzz (?) from the Melvins playing guitars too, that hairdo :-), Simon however dragged me away after a while, he thought it was too one-dimensional or something. (?)

Laibach: Okay, the last time i saw them was about 1985 in a small club in Berlin, i really liked their first or so album, there was something completely alien about them then. Well, they were good, and they still do what they do and it was very effective. By then it was getting dark and there was a big wooden wheel with pots carrying fire displays near the stage, the moon came out, so it was a pretty awesome pseudo-teutonic spectacle. Simon loved it and made lots of little videos. Turned out he had never heard any Laibach before, so it must have been impressive. they ended with 'Life is Life'.

Project Pitchfork: Long running dark wave band from Hamburg that i had heard about for eons. They were actually my highlight of the day. The popbitch tent was only half full but once you were inside they exuded this strange energy that really sucked me in, very dynamic, and an interesting front man, whose features recalled a more ragged looking Klaus Nomi at points, though his voice wasn't like that...

Anne Clark (feat. Implant): Blast from the past, she even played 'Sleeper in Metropolis' and 'Our Darkness'. Sounded relevant and endearing still, the crowd in the tent was electric...

Hawkwind: Mostly yawn, but at that point i was ready to crash really


Scout Niblett, Modey Lemon,

Why? vs Ms Ohio: really cool, liked all the beards!

Napalm Death: incredible vibe in the tent! gig of the day!

Hood: played in a tent that looked completely fogged up by its entrance, i guess it was dust, the bar at the side of the tent let the evening sun in to awesome effect, very photogenic. kinda suited the mood of the music too.

Television: a bit grumpy especially from the closeup position Simon insisted on, but had its (free-sprawling) moments.

The Young Gods 20th anniversay: Another good one, we sat down at the side of the field and let it wash over us, it was lush, the guy's voice was amazing, definitely wanted to be there and play for everyone (which helps!)

Sunday we nearly left but i'm glad we stuck around cos i think it turned out to be my favourite day starting with a great early afternoon melodic punk rock set by The
Queers, who I guess are not really queer in the 'conventional' sense, that finished with covers of The Who's 'The Kids Are Alright' and 'Rockaway Beach' by The Ramones. For some reason one of my favourite sets, it just felt right, one quick song after another, no fuss, and a nice early afternoon crowd.

The Faint: I really wanted to see them but they ended up playing for just ten minutes or so because of major sound (check) problems, or maybe they were just late to arrive. It was frustrating cause the 4 or so songs they played were really great slabs of fierce electropop that went down very well with the crowd. No 'Agenda Suicide' either!

13 & God: which is The Notwist playing with experimental hip hop trio Themselves. This is a revelation, for some reason this really works. I don't know what it is with The Notwist but they seem to go down extremely well at festivals, and this is just beautiful, their glitchy moody pop-meets-krautrock soundscapes together with the mellow hip hop vibes creating some truly magical alchemy (i know i'm not very good at describing this!). We're hooked on this for now!

Giant Sand: just right for Sunday evening, beautiful. a bit heavier than Lambchop.

Bright Eyes: another good one. We were right in the front and it was intense, Conor appeared to be pretty drunk but he was still on top form, the rest of the band, featuring members of The Faint, played well, but it was his moody, nagging voice that held it all together and changed the tone of the music as soon as he started singing. He's a volatile, intuitive performer, and there were moments when it looked like it's all falling apart, but on this evening it still hung last memory is of Conor climbing a keyboard stand and sitting on there wrapping up the last song with his hair flopping with the rhythm...

So, all in all, many teenage kicks for all the Euroboyz. and us. We've got some crowd photos, that morph into some cool portraits when zoomed in, so I'll try to post some sometimes...