Dour 2007 - Party hard, harder, hardest!
To many people the Dour festival has become an annual tradition. This will be the first time I write a review about this musical feast, while it is my third time visiting it. Four days filled with some of the best and weirdest music, as long as it is/was underground at some point. All this for a very reasonable price, with Hoegaarden beer and lots of drugs, prepare to party harder than you’ve ever have!
I got confronted with Blutch when I visited a Comity show in 013 a while back. This heavy rock/metal/doom band quite impressed me, so it was up to them to be the first band that I would see at Dour 2007. The show unfortunately wasn’t as impressing as it was with Comity, but the band nevertheless loosened me up for the four days filled with music yet to come. The sound wasn’t really working with the band either, so that was a bit of a pity.
Yes, the other 2/3 of Sleep was also present at Dour. Last year I got High On Fire, this year I got Om. This also proved to be the best show of the day for me, if not one of the best of the entire festival. I rolled two fat joints, and as they kicked in their first track my lighter hit the torch. Om’s relaxing doomrock created by a bass guitarist that sings and a drummer immediately enchanted me and held me in it’s grasp until the end. The sound was awesome, the bass really trembled through my entire body. Combined with grooving heavy drums and hypnotizing vocals I soon found myself in a state of euphoria, stoned as a motherfucker. And to top it all, they played a brand new song from their upcoming release later this year. Awesome show by an awesome duo.
So after spacing around on the festival terrain for several hours with several beers it was time to head for one of the greatest groups in hip hop history; the Wu-Tang Clan. Personally I really like Method Man, but that was the only member of the Clan not present. Bastards! For the rest the sound on this main stage sucked ass, they started almost thirty minutes late and some of the members of the Clan clearly didn’t really feel like doing live shows anymore. Nevertheless, as soon as the first track kicked in, the third world war started in the crowd. Legendary tracks like ‘Bring The Ruckus’, ‘Gravel Pit’ and ‘Method Man’ passed by, and even some Ol’ Dirty Bastard tributes were made. In the end I guess everybody who had never seen Wu-Tang before was reasonably pleased, but the old-school die hard fans were certainly not that happy with this below mediocre show. Too bad.
Well what better way to forget about the horror’s you’ve witnessed then to start kicking it with some breakcore?!? I had already missed Kid606 from the legendary Ipecac label once at a festival, so I wasn’t planning on doing that again. Unfortunately he didn’t appear to be as spectacular as I had hoped so I did’t watch his entire set.
With Sickboy I knew I was guaranteed of a more brutal and ass-kicking breakcore set, and I was damn right. Masked like an idiot this guy was bouncing behind his deck on some killer broken beats, just like I saw him do a week earlier at Bong-Ra’s Wedding Bash. Unfortunately we had to leave early to see Coldcut, whom impressed me incredibly at Pukkelpop last year.
When we entered the tent Dj Food & DK will still playing their records, and they did so at a very high volume. When Coldcut kicked in, it seemed like a whole lot of that volume was gone. Also it appeared that not all members of Coldcut that I saw last time were present at this show, and when I became clear that they were gonna do exactly the same set as I already saw, I decided to return to the breakcore madness in the other tent. Too bad it ended this way, because last time Coldcut really blew me away.
Rotator turns things up a notch, raising the stakes already risen by Sickboy. This is where the real gabber beats get mixed in the breakcore, and this shit just pisses me of, But considering it was slowly becoming four in the morning it was time to head for our tents after a reasonable dose of aggressive beats. One down, three to go!!!
Well what do you do when the son of one of the most legendary musical artists ever comes to the festival you’re at? Exactly; you walk to his stage, conclude that he is making the same hippie music his dad once did, get bored and head to a hardcore show. Sean Lennon didn’t impress me at all, just the fact that he had almost the entire field sitting in front of the stage gave me Cartman-like feelings, and even reminding myself of the fact that this guy once sang on a Soulfly track could convince me of witnessing another minute of his music.
Right, Terror it is. For me the most promising hardcore band on this festival, and trust me there is a shitload on punk/hardcore/metalcore at Dour. The band got the biggest hardcore moshpit that I’ve seen here this year, and their attitude really deserved it. I think Terror is an amazing band to see live and they proved my point perfectly with this show. I might even start considering purchasing one of their albums, somewhere in the near future.
Dour had booked the Converge/Animosity/Rise And Fall on their festival, but unfortunately I already missed Rise And Fall earlier on this day. Animosity was one of the few metal bands that I wanted to see, and they kicked ass for sure. When I checked out their myspace I knew their show was a must for me. Highly technical, on the edge of mathcore, metal music was played for me by a couple of young but very skilled musicians. The only weak link for me proved to be the vocalist, whose stage presentation was more energetic that his voice. A bit of a pity, but the music made up for a lot in my opinion.
This experimental hardcore band never really grabbed me by the balls when I listened to them on record, so why not check them out live at Dour. My jaw dropped. Converge makes music I cannot even describe, even the vocals are in a league of their own. The strongest asset of the band lies with the drummer, this guy is bashing away Mastodon style, ripping it up with a high dose of powerful rolls and tight hardcore poeka’s. Both guitarist and bassist offer you new perspectives on how the hardcore of the future might sound, and I must say quite frankly that I quite dig it. One of the biggest surprises for me at Dour 2007.
Hardcore legends Sick Of It All were once again present at this festival, but more than two tracks I couldn’t have seen. It’s just not a band that catches my interest, contrary to the thousands of people cheering the tracks along in the tent.
This Dutch band caught my interest when they aired a part of their performance at the Lowlands festival. So I thought I ought to check it out here, but it became a big disappointment. It seemed quite without structure what they were doing, and as soon as I felt that they weren’t really hitting that spot in the part of my brain that loves eccentric music, I left to see some of RJD2’s hip hop beats.
Time to take things more easily. High Tone is a live dub band that gets you spacing into the next dimension within no time. Roll it, light it, smoke it, and dance! Unfortunately I couldn’t watch too much of their set, because Belgium electro-rockers Goose were about to hit us!
The guys from Goose rocked my world completely at Motel Mozaique earlier this year. This however proved to be more of a disappointment. Again the sound sucked, again (as the last band on the main stage) they were late, and they seem to have grown an ego that’s on a higher level than the music. All the greatness that I witnessed the previous time seemed to be lost. Quite a pity, but something that might be expected when you’re being booked at every big Summer festival. Let’s hope they turn out alright in the end.
When I checked out Motor’s myspace prior to going to the festival I was very impressed with their beats. My knowledge of dance music isn’t good enough to really name their style, but the fact that they played everything live made it all the more fun. Their happy danceable tunes didn’t keep me at the festival though, but as we returned to our tents, we could still hear their music. Great stuff, this Motor!
Well some of us got up early in order to see Sworn Enemy perform. I had already seen them here two years ago, but still I got off my lazy drunken ass to watch some mosh as I gradually woke up. I find it hard to find some hardcore in the thrash metal Sworn Enemy basically makes, but still the moshheads present at this show threw down like hell. I must say that there are some enjoyable parts here and there, but overall I can’t say that I’m a fan of the band. Nice to see when it’s already on the bill, nothing I’d really pay money for.
Due to my slowly decaying brain I already missed Joe Lally from Fugazi right before this show, but luckily I was able to catch some of Black Engine’s. This band holds Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris on drums, as well as the drummer for Italian fusion jazz band Zu. Yes two drums. Also present is the saxophone player of Zu, along with a bassist and guitarist (if I remember correctly) that I don’t know. What they do is they kind of all have an own rhythm to play, that somewhere along the line should be correct. It was a hell of an attack on my brain, they caught me totally off guard. The drums could simply not be followed, as they were both doing something that I had difficulties dealing with, so combined it was like a Terry Bozzio rhythmfest. Add a lot of unconventional noise coming from the saxophone and occasionally the rest of the instruments with some ‘loops’ here and there and you’ve got jazz mayhem in your face. And although this stuff usually gets met psyched as a little child with a lollypop, this time it was just too much. I needed stoner!
And I got stoner! I had to miss Black Cobra at the Roadburn festival earlier this year because I had to catch a train, which was regrettable since I heard a lot of good reactions about that show. This was my chance to get even, and hell they rocked like a motherfucker! Another two piece like Om two days earlier, but this time the singer played guitar, on a shitload of amps of course. Thick fat stonerrock in the vein of High On Fire was thrown in my face, rocking the hell out of a bunch of LSD tripping weirdo’s in front of me. This is certainly a well kept gem of the stoner scene, but that’s about to change I guess. This stuff rocks, hard, heavy, and damn good. Stoners keep an eye out for this mammoth!
Of course there is time for some legendary reggae at Dour! Unfortunately the festival was missing out a bit on some real nice reggae bands that I appreciate but they did have the legendary Israel Vibration. I don’t know why they’re legendary (perhaps because their name could also be a brand of kosher dildo’s…), but it came pretty obvious that they were old as hell. The first vocalist was on crutches, as was the second. But believe me, these old farts still know how to dance with them! Good for laughter, but too bad the music wasn’t really impressing me. But then again, if you closed Dour 2006 with Eek-A-Mouse, who still stands a chance? Exactly.
I must mention that at Dour, one is able to purchase a magic cactus, you know, like a mushroom, only worse. During this show I saw two guys with a plastic bottle in which they had crushed one such cactus, to it was also filled with its psychedelic fluids. Man, those guys were out of this world. I mean the first day we ran into a guy tripping on LSD, and he looked pretty out if this world too, but these guys looked more fear and loathing than I have ever seen in real life. Big smiles, uncontrolled motions, huge pupils, I bet they were seeing flying elephants for sure, pink ones two. An amazing sight, trust me.
This was a very special concert, as it concerned two artist of the Ipecac roster. Griots & Gods are actually industrial hip hoppers Dälek and legendary Swiss rockers The Young Gods. Yessss, why are they legendary? Check out their website and discover to where their influences since 1985 have stretched. This project they came to do here together at Dour was one of the most amazing things I have seen this year. I think there were four laptops, quite some sampling equipment, of course drum, bass and guitar and some microphones, of which one was used for raps. The two acts had created incredibly atmospheric songs with many, many layers. It was very relaxing at one time, and stunningly amazing at the other. It was highly unfortunate that I couldn’t watch it until the end, because a legendary moment in my metal history was about to take place. I still hope they decide to do an album with this stuff, because it was really one of the most memorable things of this year.
Alright cabrones! It is time for los banditos de coca! Or whatever the hell they kept saying. It’s fucking Brujeria! In my collection since the first year I listened to metal, but never seen them over here. And now, at Dour, they were here. Or at least, the vocalists were here, because I believe there is a guitarist from The Haunted playing bass, it’s definitely bassist Shane from Napalm Death on guitar here, but who’s drumming I don’t know. Nevertheless I got treated on quite a few songs that I still remember by heart, so it was a highly enjoyable show for me. Watching them perform in their bandit outfit’s with machetes looked pretty funny, but their death metal mixture of hardcore, death metal and a bit of grind supported it excellently. And the fact that they kept talking Spanish to a mostly French speaking crowd was also pretty charming. Hell, I banged my head! This was the only metal band I really wanted to see at Dour, but it was one I have been waiting for a very long time. Brujerizmo!
I kind of like the music that Princess Superstar makes, but after being brutalized by Brujeria I didn’t really feel like listening to her catchy electro tunes, although it did sound tempting for a little while. I needed breakcore!
And what person to bring you breakcore than mister Aaron Funk himself, aka Venetian Snares. This was the third time I saw this dude mix his records, and again it was utterly insane. Nobody spins faster than this guy that I’ve seen. And it seems like a lot of people agree with me on this, because the tent was pretty packed at this show, and everybody was bouncing around. Ultra fast drum ‘n’ bass fuelled breaks, for an hour long, it’s an attack on your brain man. But I loved every bit of it!
One of my heroes at the festival, Otto Von Schirach was entitled to keep the party going. He put up a ridiculous show, with two costumed and masked men acting as his ‘band’ with a crappy children’s drum kit and a sorry excuse for a guitar. Since this was a festival show, Otto retained himself a bit too much of course. I wanted the most vulgar and perverse tracks he has, but he kept it fairly decent. So I was a bit disappointed, but satisfied nonetheless. I don’t think he’ll ever beat his show on the ZXZW Festival last year, but there are more shows of his to come real soon, one with Skinny Puppy and another with The Locust. Should be fun!
So around four o’clock again, and we wander by a tent where Dr. Lektroluv is spinning some records, but I couldn’t really be bothered anymore. After two breakcore acts, you’ve heard enough interesting bleeps and peeps to make this doctor as boring as Britney Spears. Time to get to bed, and prepare for the last day! Well, of course sleep doesn’t come until like seven in the morning or something, but who cares?! Party!
Yes I got up early to see a legendary industrial noise dude from Japan. Merzbow is his name, and a whole lot of fucking noise is his game. Armed with laptops, other electronics and of course a home made guitar-like instrument caused for imploding brains and spontaneously combusting eardrums. And this guy just sat there, at peace with everything like the fucking Dalai Lama. Incredibly intense, but somehow a nice way to start the last day of the festival with. The noise wakes you up like hell, but because most of his music is made of two layers, a heavy sub-drone layer and a incredibly noisy distorted layer on top of that, it is kind of relaxing again. And this guy has released a record with the most expensive sleeve ever; a car. A legend at work here indeed.
I heard a lot of good about he industrial noise trio Wolf Eyes, so after taking a break after Merzbow these guys were on my program next. Black metal like industrial noise burst out of a guitar, microphone, and a whole bunch of electronics and of course the home-made weird instruments that produce noises from hell. This show was so intense, I couldn’t bare to watch it until the end. But what I saw was very impressing. Very evil industrial music with many layers, certainly not something masses of people will enjoy. Especially not at this volume. It was during this show by the way that I found out that near this tent-stage a housing area was situated. They must have though the world was going under when all these acts here today came by. Belgians, you gotta love ‘em!
My final headliner for Dour 2007 was Sunn 0))). And although I wasn’t expecting much, I got one of the best shows I’ve ever seen of them. The entire tent was filled with smoke, as it should be, and the two guys from Sunn 0))) had brought along their friends in noise Attila Csihar on vocals and Oren Ambarchi on guitar, and Greg Anderson himself was playing bass. A calm and eerie beginning quickly led to the heaviest drones known to man, while I gently smoked away three joints within the hour that they played. This show was so utterly amazing, I was literally in tears. And that hasn’t happened to me before. Maybe it was all the drugs and alcohol in my body, but I shed tears over the greatness of Sunn 0))). When this was over I couldn’t speak, I knew I just had seen the best show of the entire festival. This reigned supreme. Too bad we walked away from the tent and other music started to enter my ears again, pulling my our of my intoxication. Within thirty minutes I was puking in a thrash can, and I have pictures to show for it! HELL YEAH! Too bad I missed 65daysofstatic due to this, but one has to puke sometime at Dour!
Who doesn’t know the track ‘Organ Donor’? You suck! DJ Shadow had slipped my mind at several festivals last year, and this time I really didn’t feel like standing in an over-crowded tent either. So we sat against a tree outside, listening to his very good and extremely laid back set, relaxing to the max. A great DJ, but I couldn’t convince myself to get of my ass.
Another DJ then, filling the last slot on the main stage. Amon Tobin played some records for me earlier this year at Motel Mozaïque, but he failed to really grab my interest back then. This set on the other hand sounded superb! He started fairly minimal, but gradually built up to more intense parts, eventually ending the set with breakcore-like beats. And for once the sound on the main stage was absolutely awesome! This made the experience so much more better. Amon Tobin surely proved that he earned this spot on the main stage, and the thousands of people dancing in front of it just had to agree with.
In the set of Amon Tobin there was another legend ready to get on stage somewhere else. It was Dr. Octagon, the legend otherwise known as Kool Keith. First there was his DJ playing some records, he got joined by the backing MC, and when Kool Keith himself entered the stage, the curtains in the back opened to show us some hardcore pornography! This caught my attention! Maybe a bit too much, because I don’t remember much of Keith himself, except that he was wearing some kind of Dracula-like cape or something. Anyway, at a certain point the curtain closed again so I left to watch the rest of Amon Tobin’s set. Which was way better, might I add.
Well last year we finished up with Eek-A-Mouse, this year we got Anthony B. But last year it was like eleven in the evening, this time it was two in the night. Nevertheless I watched a quite hilarious performance of this reggae dude, who has this funny way of jumping around on stage. Too bad the music didn’t keep me interested for the entire show, so we wandered of across the terrain again.
So the last thing I saw at Dour 2007 was a minimal DJ, and it wasn’t a very good one. His name is Sierra Sam, and I heard about five minutes. End of story.
So there you have it, the greatest festival the Benelux has to offer. Don’t believe me? Join me next year and find out!