DUNK 2013 - program

After last year’s success, the European post rock festival institution DUNK!FESTIVAL decided to go bigger. One stage more, bigger space for merch and music sales and an extended line up are the logical step into the next level. Again the local team worked very hard to set up a professional festival infrastructure in a really familiar and just nice atmosphere. The line-up promised nothing but one of the finest artists in post rock and connected genres.

Friday’s opener WHAT THE BLOOD REVEALED served their classic post rock in a very energetic way. Great job to open up the festival. Afterwards, CELESTIAL WOLVES released their new record on the new second stage. By the way, the festival connected record label DUNK!RECORDS had five releases presented on that weekend.

German institution KOKOMO took over and impressively built up walls and floated in complex textures created by three guitar players and a driving rhythm section. This also was the first band where the sometimes a little bit over motivated light technician showed what he has in the pocket. He knows how to make your eyes beg for mercy. Nice one.

The first artist from the drone corner was PETRELS. In this genre you need to take some time to get into the music, but if you let it grab your body it will change you. The first impression is only tone or noise but the deeper it gets the more the tiny variations and the power of soundscapes make it’s way straight to your heart. One of the institutions of this genre followed: As one half of SUNN O))), STEPHEN O’MALLEY is well-known for massive soundwalls. This time, he came alone and before he started, the wall of five guitar amps already raised expectations. Because of the loudness regulations from the authorities, he could not go for his usual 117 decibel which is important to create this holistic sound. But anyway he managed to catch us and carry us off for half an hour of dreaming. As he suddenly stopped you woke up and start to realize what just happened.

Running upstairs again to see the next band, THE PIRATE SHIP QUINTET gave us some easier but still eclectic piece of music. With warm cello sounds and positive attitude, those guys gave us a good 40 minutes of music. THE BLACK HEART REBELLION was considered one of the highlights of the festival before. Expanding the post rock genre towards hardcore a bit, with screaming and also clean voices, they also impressed by many percussive instruments creating a very special sound texture. If you want to criticize something than it’s maybe the little bit too high degree of variation which made it a bit difficult to create a common atmosphere in the crowd. Close before night-time, a very special act widened our thinking about performance. LE SEUL ÉLEMENT is a one man band hiding in a semi transparent cube of white plastic. On this cube, visuals are projected and mix with the shadows of the artist, who was working with piano and drums. This scenery being already disturbing, the dark and haunting music perfectly fit in to create a whole experience of dying in beauty. The DUNK!Festival people always manage to surprise with the artists they book.

Tangled Thougts Of Leaving

The second day started early both for us and the bands. And it wasn’t a long wait to the first highlight: TANGLED THOUGHTS OF LEAVING blew us away with their virtuous musicality. The Australian progressive post rockers show that they learned from jazz music and bring those influences to the big rock stage. The trademark piano and analog synth sound adds a classic feeling to the sound creations wandering between epic noisy walls and silent fragile sounds. Check them out.


Afterwards, French KWOON took us to more pop influenced terrain. In the vein of seventies psychedelic movement, they serve epic songs too beautiful to not like. It’s that warm feeling without being cheesy that makes that band special. Already praised by the press and compared to genre heroes like SIGUR RÓS, they are ready to kindly conquer the world.

TOUNDRA brought us back to earth and made the crowd moving with their post metal energy. Not many bands of the genre spread so much fun of playing. Even more towards metal we were moved by the following act FIRE WALK WITH US. Imagine southern rock played by a post metal band knowing how to produce heavy guitar riffs. Perfect band name we think.

Maserati at Dunk!Festival

After that we met MASERATI for an interview and already had a great time with the US guys. This band was definitely one of the highlights for us not least because they brought some very different vibe to the floor. To describe MASERATI we best quote their press info: MASERATI is as sleek, sexy and sophisticated as the legendary Italian sports car it takes it’s name from.” Wherever you are driving, take this music with you. Very much inspired by 70s Krautrock, they transfer this heritage to modern times. We know one thing: Our summer will sound like MASERATI.

For the next act, we got pulled in a completely other terrain again. ARMS AND SLEEPERS just performed as a duo this time but managed to drag the crowd in their electronic soundscapes. Not possible to stand still and be caught by the complex visuals they serve with their music. It’s no surprise that this band is growing steadily and is one of the best addresses in ambient music.

The night was closed by DRUMS ARE FOR PARADES who definitely mixed some odds to a whole loud bunch of rock music. Imagine three members beamed on stage directly from 70s southern Texas, add a keyboard guy from the 90s and, well you read right, combine that with two saxophones and a trombone. Sounds weird? It is. Heavy progressive guitar music, some more or less screaming voices and many odd rhythms. If you are into that it’s big fun, but after a full day of music, we admit that this was a little bit too much for us.

Sunday afternoon, Belgian newcomer WE STOOD LIKE KINGS surprised us with their very sophisticated post rock interpretation, combining movie like visuals with fitting sounds. We keep an eye on those guys. Then, all of a sudden, there was darkness. HEIRS came to take over the dark part of our souls, and they succeeded. Red lights, fog over and over, and slowly growing guitar lines dragged the crowd into an hour of painful delight. One of the best looking bands of the weekend created a complete synthesis of visual and acoustic experience. We made it out alive, into the light, to move forward to the next bands.


MY EMPTY PHANTOM was no new artist for us. We met the sound multi-instrumentalist behind this project, Jesse Beaman from Texas, already last year and are always delighted by his movie score like sound. He mostly starts with some light piano or guitar melodies and adds multiple layers with a loop pedal. Then he turns to the drums and the songs culminate in driving, uplifting melodies. As the afternoon slowly turned towards the evening and we where again introduced to the finest Belgian beers by the lovely bar staff, another highlight came to our ears. THE SHAKING SENSATIONS did a very good job in creating their name and so they shook our bones with two drum sets and a wall of sound which goes up and down between touching melancholic lows and culminating highs. The band is on tour in Europe in April so make sure to check them out in your city. As the festival moved towards the end, one hero came after the other. We grabbed our camera, drinks and ears and quickly moved to the other stage, were PG.LOST were ready to shoot our heads off. There is probably no other post rock band in the circus, which performs their songs with this amount of physical energy as the five Swedes do every time they enter a stage. It’s no surprise that this band is one of the top addresses of the genre and at DUNK they again prove why.

The following experience was nothing short of mind-blowing. Again an artist from the drone area – as mentioned – if you let it happen, it will change you. Mathieu Vandekerckhove, alias SYNDROME, is mostly known from his work with AMENRA. Now he comes back with a solo project, which’s first output is dedicated to his son to give him guidance for his life. Starting with very fragile guitar tones and accompanied by dark visuals, SYNDROME slowly took the crowd in his world. A hypnotizing effect set in and after half an hour the sound culminated together with drums and massive walls of guitars. Very impressive and a mind changing experience.


After that, DORENA took us to more driving waters again and served their energetic post rock with a fresh attitude. To close the last festival day, I LIKE TRAINS came to conquer our hearts. The Leeds based quintet sets their own trends and presents a minimalistic version of post pop always in between warm songs and melancholic emotions. The pulsing sound is perfect for forgetting time and space and gave this night a worthy end.

After three days and 34 artists, we again can consider this festival as one of the finest musical selections in Europe. The great familiar atmosphere combined with awesome sound and lights systems makes this one a special one. It’s all about the music, it’s all about creating something together. There is really no weakness in the line-up nor organization. Thank you DUNK!FESTIVAL, we marked our calendars for Easter 2014 already, and so should you.

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DUNK!Festival report by Axel Kunz & Robert Helbig
DUNK!Festival photos by Axel Kunz & Luise Brandenburger