Dungen / Mia Doi Todd La Salla Rossa, Montreal QC - October 12, 2005

Swedish revivalists Dungen appeared out of nowhere last year, wowing critics and drawing comparisons to the largely unheralded but truly radical Scandinavian psych scene of the '60s. While Gustav Ejstes and company do revive the ghosts of groups like Parson Sound, they have a much greater affinity for modern indie pop than to the experimentation of the long-lost community they are often compared to. Competing with a Montreal Canadiens game, classically trained folk singer Mia Doi Todd opened the show to a sparse audience. Accompanied only by her minimal strumming, she played a set of simple songs that revolved around love and political protest, and even offered up two songs by Edith Piaf and Neil Young as "homage to French-Canadians." (If one is French and the other is Canadian, that's apparently close enough.) After the intermission, the four lanky members of Dungen filed onto the stage. Much of what they played for the next hour was culled from Ta Det Lungt, and though the rather faithful versions they delivered were impressive enough, both the set's volume and the genre's appeal for spontaneous improvisation were subdued. Nor did several of the instrumental pieces ever rise above the sum of their parts. As a result, the audience played its part and delivered perfunctory applause but also never got quite out of hand the way only an amazed and bowled over audience can. Online reports from other live shows pin them as an ecstatic jam band with an illustrious stage presence that goes beyond anything this regular performance had to offer. Then again, for some strange reason, this was also rumoured to be the only stop on the tour that wasn't sold out weeks in advance. Maybe the band was having an off night.