I normally call the end of spring and the rest of summer the ‘festival season’, and I bet people understand why. From late March until the beginning of September, the most exciting and amusing activity for the typical metalhead is to participate to an outdoor festival: he only needs a tent and the best (or the most affordable) event next to him/her.
I recently discovered that this is not only a metal fan prerogative – especially in central Europe, especially in the Benelux area: as fast as the sun start to shine again there are festival everywhere and for whichsoever type of music; people enjoy them and repeat the experience quite often during this period and through the years.
Dunk!Festival: the finest post rock festival in Europe
I was not surprised last year then, when after moving to the Netherlands I heard about a post rock festival called Dunk! I already wrote my impressions here, so I will not talk too much about the first edition I saw, but it was such a significant experience for me that I decided to come back again for 2019 edition.
Passage towards the Forest stage.
Ps. all pictures are made by me, this is the reason why there are really bad quality.
I do like post rock, however I think in this moment of history the scene is so saturated that is quite difficult to find bands that are really impressive, unless they are exceptional artists.
At the Dunk! Festival I found a lot of good bands – with decent sounds and complex visuals – but poor of ideas. I was not disappointed about the genre, which I still like and gives me real emotions, but about the style – the same guitar effects, the same song structures in most of the projects present in the running order.
Yes, there are variations – Wang We has a trumpeter in his crew , in Her Name is Calla a female violinist and so on – but this is not really making any real change in what they play: still the same ideas, packed in a different way.
But there were exceptions. I want to mention Kokomo, that were for me the real headliner of Friday night. This German band knew how to balance their energy with the one from their songs, that actually had a sparkle that others didn’t communicate – at least to me.
This Patch of Sky
Another band I enjoyed (especially at the end of their performance) was This Patch of Sky, first for the unusual band structure that actually was enhancing the songs they played (they had together with the drums a second set of percussion), second for some of the songs, as Home and Bella Muerte, extremely poetic and imaginative.
I was happy to see Wrekmeister Harmonies again, but the set was a little bit disappointing. J.R Robinson came only with Esther Shaw they played a set with guitar/piano/violin and voice. Which would have been fine (especially in the cozy environment of the Forest Stage) but the sounds were so bad mixed that was not possible to hear the richness of the composition in their songs:
Made in China
I am happy to see that the Dunk! Festival is proactively searching and promoting realities outside the continent. Not only the classic one-two bands from the US, but also tiny and unknown areas as in China – this year represented by Wang Wen and Zhaoze:
Dunk! Is not only post rock
I can tell that the thing I also like about the festival is that they are not afraid of the labels, and in the running order there are always some bands that go outside the post rock area. This year there was Josef van Wissem and Go March! The first playing a kind of Medieval/Renaissance repertoire and the second playing an paced electronic.
All good, but…what about the main bands?
I was thinking to avoid to talk about the headliners, that I did not enjoy so much. Or better, I did not consider them as headliners, and this gave me a sense of waiting for a real closer of the night. The best performers, thou, are the Italian Ufomammut, followed by Alcest, still one of the best band in the scene but poorly shown in this context (that was a pity, since it was the first time they played in Dunk!). I don’t even want to say anything about Efrim Manuel Menuk, that I found presumptuous and annoying.
The Dunk! Festival is definitely a nice experience to do. The location is cozy and relaxing, far away from the chaos of big cities, and the line up is satisfactory (though it fluctuates through the year, as I saw the difference between the 2018 and 2019 running order). It is nice to spend a weekend in the nature, talking and drinking face to face with talented and famous musicians (that were sharing the ‘festival stage’ together with the fans) and listening to good music.