Dungen / Woods Venue, Vancouver, BC September 2
Published Sep 04, 2009Dungen and Woods is a bill that could go either way, headliner wise. Although Dungen are probably the more established act, Woods are currently riding a wave of enthusiasm for the lo-fi folk movement they've helped kick-start. Their latest full-length, Songs of Shame, is also one hell of an album, while Dungen haven't released one since 2008's 4, a record that was a further step down from the blog-fuelled success of 2004's Ta Det Lugnt.
Still, it was Woods who took the stage first, in front of the newly renovated Venue's LCD-bank visual backdrop, which looks like a cross between those iTunes "visualizations" and a stock ticker. The members of Woods are pretty unassuming-looking dudes, and it's easy to miss the fact that their fuzzy noise-folk incorporates threads of really excellent songwriting. The best part of Woods' live show, though, is watching the ever-kneeling tape-loopist G. Lucas Crane manipulate a cassette recorder and a bunch of effects, whilst howling into a repurposed set of headphones - he's like some kind of noise shaman, a foil to the more structured approach of his band mates.
Dungen, for their part, covered a lot of sonic territory. Although "Swedish prog-psych" sounds like the punchline to a joke about music journalism, they also ventured into Can-styled Krautrock rave-ups, and when front-man Gustav Ejstes deployed his flute, it was hard not to be reminded of Jethro Tull.
At their best, Dungen's set was ethereal, soaked in reverb and three-part vocal harmony, sounding both modern and retro-obsessed. This was most in evidence on older tracks like "Panda" and "Ta Det Lugnt." But when they ventured into ballad territory, they sometimes sounded like a forgotten Scandinavian yacht rock band. This could be good or bad, depending on where your tastes run. Still, when Dungen were good, they were captivating, and even the most jarringly ugly stage in Vancouver couldn't stop them.