If heaven is indeed a paradise filled with all the things we love, for me the afterlife would be an eternal edition of Dunk! festival. In that aspect, hell would probably be sitting through an infernal shlager festival, which brings me right to the Fries Guys DJ's. I warned you guys about the 'Macarena'. You shouldn't have seen that as a challenge. My god, where did you find all that stuff? There's a shitload of awesome CD's in the tent in front of you and you play 'In Mijn Caravan'? You rascals. If I do not hear one Eddy Wally song next year, I'll be very disappointed.
Thursday: Welcome Home (Auditorium)
For us, the festival started when we met Roger The Festivalman on the train in Brussels. We saw plenty of people embarking the train, carrying all kinds of camping gear and all kinds of beverages. We looked at each other and we knew. We didn't say a word but we all knew why everyone was getting on that train. There were long-time Dunk fans, like Roger, and there were first-timers, like that young couple a few seats behind ours. They seemed nice but apparently also a bit nervous, possibly because they overheard Roger talking about his previous and many festival adventures. The poor teenagers were probably expecting the worst.
As soon as the train arrived, a line of walkers appeared. While some people preferred to wait for a shuttle bus, several others trusted their legs and feet to get them to the camping ground. We walked among them and passed them by, mostly because we were carrying only one backpack. Our gear was already on its way, thanks to Juul who had picked it up a day earlier. That really made the trip more comfortable for us. We appreciate it. After arriving, we picked up the key to our festi-hut, delivered a box of books to the merchandise stand and got our first Dunk! festival beer before we headed to the forest stage.
We missed the first two bands on the mainstage, although while unpacking we heard Tortuganonima very well. It's probably an unfortunate task to open a festival like this on a Thursday afternoon while everybody is setting up their tents, buying food or strolling around in the merchandise area. For us, I Am Wolves was the opener. Their hard hitting post rock pierced the forest stage a first time, kicking off something that would prove to become pure magic. I'll say it now, the forest stage was the best stage on this edition. You'll notice that in my gig-ranking soon enough.
Back in the forest stage Astodan played a more that decent set of exhilarating post rock. This was one of those nice and immersive performances that make Dunk! festival such a nice place to enjoy and discover new music. Astodan did a great job, in my opinion a better one than Cloakroom in the main tent.
That being said, for some reason I wasn't too fond of most of the bands with vocals on this edition of Dunk! festival. Vocals can add something to music if performed perfectly and that wasn't always the case on this edition. No big deal however, I don't think many people share that opinion with me as the big tent was getting more and more packed, especially with Ef. I didn't see their full show so I can't really review that one.
Caspian closed the first day and they did it like Caspian does everything: perfect. I admit that I'm not the biggest Caspian fan. Don't ask me why. But I know why they are as big as they are and why the audience loved every single second of it. With sheer professionalism, these Americans blasted everything to pieces and the packed tent ate it all. So good job, now for a good night of sleep before I can say something very similar about The Ocean...
Right, I have a few lines to fill before I go to the next day, otherwise this space next to the picture will look rather awkward. So to the people who brought Cara Pils to the forest stage and let their empty cans loose in the forest: fuck you and fuck your testicles. Even closed Cara Pils belongs in a garbage bin so throw it in there you lazy, unrespectful, marginal cunts.
Right, back to happiness...
Friday: The Birthday Spectacular
In the forest stage the veiled trio of Wyatt E made their glorious return to the world's cosiest festival. This was a massive blast. I really dig what this band has grown into over the last two years and judging from the audience reaction I'm definitely not the only one. Their mystic doom enchanted the woods and everyone inside. So their "best Belgian performance" award is well deserved.
The award for most hilarious soundcheck goes to Au Revoir. During the vocals soundcheck the vocalist yelled "I AM SORRY I'M SCREAMING AT YOU!!!". People were laughing all over the camping ground. This was pure comedy genius. Their gig was intense, not really award winning but you can't have everything, right?
Jo Quail earns the award for best solo performance, not because the competition was nonexistent but because this was such a mesmerizing concert. Armed with her custom cello and her effects, Jo Quail added magic to the natural sounds of the forest. It was as if the birds had decided to join her for a jam session. This was definitely not an everyday experience. I noticed that many people witnessed it with closed eyes , undoubtedly temporarily in another dimension.
Saturday: Confuse The Cock
A nearby rooster was crowing on very odd times. The poor animal had no idea what time of day it was, either that or he was practicing to become a vocalist in a post metal band. The rest of the natural surroundings didn't seem to mind the festival. Massive amounts of creepy caterpillars were crawling in the undergrowth, orange tipped butterflies were trying to "get it on" and a horse was laughing at all of us for being such incompetent creatures. That's what horses do. They think we're jokes.
In the forest stage the young duo of Father Sky Mother Earth walked on stage, grabbed their gear and took hundreds of people by surprise. Their drone doom was hypnotic and their pre-programmed drums added something industrial to the whole thing. At one point, I thought "this is Om mixed with Author and Punisher". This was amazing and what's more, this wasn't perfect. There is still room to explore and expand their sound so you better keep an eye on these Germans.
Appalaches started what would prove to become a classic Dunk! festival day. Over the years, this festival has been growing and evolving, adding more genres and subgenres to their line-up. Today you'd almost forget that this was once a post rock only festival.
Eventually Russian Circles would attempt to top every act on the line-up and they effortlessly became victorious. The big tent was packed to capacity, people were screaming their lungs out. Russian Circles were loud, flirting with the prefix "too", but they easily kept their grasp on an ecstatic audience. Of course this was a victory lap, of course this was mind boggling, of course this was the absolute headliner. These guys have been doing this for years and they managed to perfect their trade to extremely high levels.
Yet, somehow I wasn't feeling sad. I was glad, and I still am, that I experienced this festival once again. I wasn't even sad that I didn't sell many copies of my book, 'Cecilia's World' at the merch stand. I have been looking forward to this festival so much that I completely forgot to prepare a proper presentation for the book. I even forgot to change the price of the ebook to the one advertised. So for a limited time, 'Cecilia's World' is only $0.99 on Smashwords (click here).
I guess we can all agree on one thing: Dunk! festival is as close as any of us sinners will get to heaven. This is what happens when the right elements meet at the right time in the right place. The audience was fantastic, the bands were amazing, the organisation was flawless, the food was yummy, the weather was great, the atmosphere was chill. In the old age we would have praised our many gods for an experience like this. Today I'd like to thank each and every one who was in one way or another present at this megalith of an event. I'm just disappointed that nobody dared to propose to his girlfriend on the main stage.