From 14 to 16 May, the 11th edition of Dunk !Festival took place in Zottegem. Darkview was present on the last day of “Europe’s finest post-rock festival”.
Ilydaen had the honour to open the last day of the festival for us. This band from Liège had set up in the middle of the tent with bright blue neons as lighting, with the audience gathered all around. This special set-up made the audience very involved in the set and I thought it was a very nice experience to begin this 11th edition of Dunk !Festival.
The mostly instrumental post rock of these three gentlemen made me think of Russian Circles at times. Theirs is a very technical and varied style of post rock interspaced with calmer moments to build up the atmosphere. Also worthy of note is the passion of the band members. A great start of the day.
Immediately after the last notes of Illydaen had faded, the Spanish Astralia took to the main stage in the same room. The sudden transition confused some of the audience, who didn’t know at first whether Astralia was still sound checking or had already begun their performance. Over the course of the show, the tent filled up quite nicely, however.
For me, Astralia was one of the discoveries of the day! The spaniards play a very dreamy combination of post rock and ambient, fitting to their name. Every now and then, a harsher outburst surprised me. The harder parts fit perfectly in the whole, as they kept to the very warm sound of the calmer parts. These passages spontaneously reminded me of Mono. Astralia is a band whose music I will definitely look up later and I hope I’ll get the chance to see them live in the future too.
After a short break, it was time for Ornaments from Italy. They clearly intended to deliver a wake- up call to the crowd. A hyperkinetic lightshow added strength to their very active and technically complex post metal. Ornaments’ show was very decent, with the final track making the strongest impression. In it, all the different aspects of the band’s music came clearly, both very trailing parts and faster, complex outbursts.
A sign posted at the entrance to the main tent told us that we could expect an extra show by Doomina on the Stargazer stage after Ornaments finished. With a very calm intro, Doomina took us on a dreamy journey, interrupted at intervals with some harder parts. As a whole, the set was not always very coherent, but the dreamy parts were quite enjoyable.
The End Of The Ocean came to Dunk from Columbus, Ohio. The six-piece band is already working on their 4th full-length. Their experience shows in the beautiful and relaxing build-ups of the songs. Supported by a well-crafted light show, the songs come over you like the warm glow of the sun. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of their tracks. The only slight disappointment from my part about The End Of The Ocean was the relatively short length of the climaxes at the end of each build-up. This gave me somewhat the feeling that the band took us on a journey without a clear destination in mind. I would have liked some longer climaxes to top things off, but perhaps sometimes the journey can be more beautiful than the destination.
Tom Wolf surprised us on his own with a very intimate concert consisting of acoustic guitar, clean vocals and a layer of electronica. The sober lighting helped to create the intimate atmosphere his music was clearly oriented towards. The turnout was quite low, with most people sitting on the ground, but those present visibly enjoyed the show. I too enjoyed it, though I think an even more intimate setting would do the man more justice. No surprise then, to learn that the man performs weekly living-room concerts.
Labirinto is an experimental and instrumental post rock band from São Paulo, Brazil. Their sound is very warm but with a threatening undercurrent that reminded me of a summer thunderstorm during the heavier parts. The experimental nature of their music lies in unusual drum rhythms on one hand and soundscape-like moments connecting the tracks on the other.
Apart from a beautiful light show, Labirinto’s set was further embellished by vague projections of clouds and birds that perfectly matched the atmosphere. For me personally, Labirinto’s show was one of the high points of the day. Not in the least thanks to the magnificent climax at the end of their set, during which the other band members joined the 2 drummers on percussion. One thing that surprised me though, was that the live set was much heavier and more intense than I had expected from their album recordings.
By the time the Brazilians left the stage our stomachs were rumbling, so we decided to let the neoclassical/drone/ambient music of Innerwoud pass us by. From what we could hear outside of the tent, the music was not at all bad, though.
After dinner it was time for Year Of No Light to steamroll the main tent with their crushing, but very clear (compliments to the organisation for that!) wall of sound. To get straight to the point: for me, this was THE greatest set of the day! The complex combination of doom, post metal, drone and sludge with a strong layer of synth on top was played live flawlessly by the two drummers, three guitar players and bass player. The five long tracks from the band’s two most recent albums (Ausserwelt and Tocsin) of these Frenchmen showed off all aspects of Year Of No Light. Both the atmospheric layers, the blunt hammer strokes and the overwhelming climaxes were of a rarely seen quality. In part thanks to the excellent sound mixing and another great light show, this fourth time seeing Year Of No Light was without a doubt the best for me.
I needed a moment to take it all in after that, so I decided to enjoy Sixth Minor sitting down. The Italian duo had other plans, however! In front at the stage, a few dozen people were already enjoying themselves a lot to Sixth Minor’s very danceable blend of post rock and electro verging on industrial. As the set moved along, more people kept joining in on the party and even I couldn’t stay still. Sometimes the music reminded me of 65daysofstatic, but these Italians brought a lot more energy and electro to the mix. In the end, this show was one of the biggest surprises of the day.
Over on the main stage, it became clear that Maybeshewill was one of the bands the audience had been waiting for. Both the turnout and the response of the audience was big. The summery post rock of Maybeshewill was clearly well liked and I too enjoyed it. Especially the second half of the show, with tracks from the debut album “Not For Want Of Trying” was great. Without a doubt a very good performance, though my own preferences lie more with the threatening sound of bands like Labirinto.
French Teen Idol is a post-(electro-)rock project run by the Roman artist Andrea Di Carlo. This man had the somewhat ungrateful job of performing just before Amenra which might explain the small number of people that showed up. His dreamy electronic music was quite beautiful, but I too caught myself already preparing mentally to go see Amenra later on. I would love to see this soft, warm and dreamy music live again some other time. After half an hour we decided to look for a good spot for the headliners.
The honour to close this 11th edition of the festival was bestowed on Amenra. The festival couldn’t have wished for a better headliner. As always, Amenra delivered what the audience expected from them: a completely crushing show supported by projections without equal.
After starting off with two older favourites, the band surprised everyone by unleashing a new track on the audience. “Nachtschade” made a big impression as is to be expected from Amenra. Hopefully the band will release “Mass VI” featuring this track sometime soon. If the other songs are of similar quality, I predict the record will become 2015 or 2016s album of the year!
“Nachtschade” was followed up with “Boden” and “Novena”, two tracks from the most recent “Mass V” record. Two older hammer strokes by the tiles of “Am Kreuz” and “Silver Needle” completed the set. The audience was extatic! Amenra came, saw and conquered. They were clearly THE band of the day for the audience. As always, I too enjoyed the set immensely.
To finish up this review, I would like to thank the organisation for this. Dunk is without a doubt one of the nicest and cosiest festivals in our little country with fantastic line-ups every year. I sure hope I’ll be able to attend again next May.
Review: Nico Buffel
Photography: Lorin Renodeyn