Photo by Steffen Jørgensen
Firstly I just wanna say; If you’ve been reading all the live reviews we’ve posted from me, lil’ ol Tammy – you’re probably thinking that I just love everything and totally flip out when I see live music – the fact is, however, I’ve just been really lucky to be able to see so god-damn many great concerts this “season” in Aarhus. Dungen at Atlas was no exception.
Dungen is a band I’ve always wanted to see but wondered how in the hell they could pull off sounding as extreme and accomplished as their impressive body of studio work. The touring band is only 4 members, and their albums – especially their new one – Allas Sak is dauntingly complex in its motives and audio landscape. Folks: they did it!
With no support (much to my delight I think) they hit the stage around 21.00 with no fanfare – just smiles and waving – but then began a torrent of sound that positively took the audience (of around 50 patrons) on an aural journey for the next two hours. They began their set with a lumbering organ motif that winded and built up into a prog/acid jazz clusterfuck of light and sound. It was very evident that some were improv, some were mapped out, and a lot was just pure technical wizardry without any pretentions or even intentions except to put on a masterful and unique show just for us. No set-list needed – Dungen just created a world for us to live in at Atlas.
The band’s set played heavily on newer material, but also harkened back to their previous four albums – all within a fresh and modern context. It was difficult for me to find a reference point within the numbers breathing in and out of each other – but new material along “standards” like “Panda” and instrumental jams from Skilt I Alt were expanded and repurposed to fit the incredibly elastic musical aerobics of each individual member.
Besides the obvious leadership of front man Gustav Ejstes – who freely jumped around from Hammond organ, electric piano and flute solos (as well as guitar, tambourine and singing…) the band’s other members each had moments of “wow-ness”. The drummer’s incredibly nimble jazz fills and rock solid jazz style stick-work though really made every move they made seemed justified – as well as the very subtle yet violent outbursts when needed by guitarist Reine Fiske.
Nearly 2 hours seems like a long time for a show – but with a band like Dungen – the quality of absolutely every single moment, barring a quick “wardrobe change” a few numbers in for Gustav were just quality. There were certain “holy shit” moments where the band reached absolute transcendental nirvana during solos – and communicated in a way that was bordering on telepathic. You could easily draw comparisons between Dungen and Frank Zappa in his prime – blurring the lines between Jazz, Rock and Classical – but with a very Scandinavian sense of irony and hope, rather than just technical legwork or wankery.
The band seemed incredibly bent on giving the somewhat meager audience the best experience possible. A lot of in-between song banter (in Dane-ified Swedish no less) punctuated with smiles and a heart-felt passion for their incredible craftsmanship transcended the 3rd and 4th walls of performance. After all was said and done – the band came down to take photos in the crowd before an encore – and ran over to the merch booth to sign and greet each audience member. That is bang for buck folks – a two-hour show – unique to this night, and hanging with the band. Pretty fucking good for a rainy Wednesday.
Not a peep about the football either. Not that I think these guys even cared!
I would like to tail end this piece with a plea to our dear readers: If Dungen ever come to town again – go and see them – you won’t regret it. It’s worth every penny and ringing ear for this amazing experience.
Until next time you crazy Swedish mothers.
With no support, they hit the stage with no fanfare – just smiles and waving – but then began a torrent of sound that positively took the audience (of around 50 patrons) on an aural journey for the next two hours. (5/6)