Dour festival’s 30th edition finished 10 days ago; its plains emptied and the festivalgoers are slowly sobering up. Life got back to normal and we are left with sweet memories of an edition as eclectic as usual but marked with changes and novelties.
If we were to define Dour festival with figures we could mention the 228,200 festivalgoers or the 224 artists of this year’s edition, but we simply cannot reduce it to numbers. Before anything else, Dour is about music! This music turned a small, local festival into a must-attend event within the European music scene. Going from Rock music to Hip-hop and, needless to say, passing by electronic music, Dour was the ‘post-hippie Little Thumbling’ that has eventually became a hulk open to any kind of music.
Looking back at the highlights
Dour festival’s 30th edition does not differ much from the preceding ones… at least musically speaking. Music connoisseurs got their money’s worth. Electronic music was as present as usual and techno music has even gained some ground. Indeed, the Red Bull Elektropedia Balzaal stage opened not 4 (as usual) but 5 days – 3 of which were fully dedicated to techno music and its different subgenres.
From this monumental stage, we will remember a pleiad of big names in the international music scene, from Mind Against’s, Stephan Bodzin’s and Kollektiv Turmstrass’ melodious tones to Dax J’s, Pan-Pot’s, Ben Klock’s, and Rødhåd’s powerfull and aggressive ones.
Recondite offered a dark, hypnotic dj set as no one else can. His musical search combined with the remarkable vj’s performance – that was in perfect harmony with his unique universe – turned the show into a high point. In the same manner of Boris Brejcha’s and Ben Klock’s closings, which were singular moments mixing opposing feelings – the energy and frenzy of the end, on the one hand, and the first surges of nostalgia on the other.
Nonetheless, the Red Bull Elektropedia Balzaal stage is none other than the tip of the iceberg. Dour festival counts several stages which play host to electronic music. The little-more-intimate stage tents offered top-flight performances, such as Nils Frahm’s live show. The Berlin-based virtuoso evolving between classical and electronic music gave an outstanding and surreal performance sober in lightings to a thrilled audience.
In contrast to Frahm’s smooth performance, the tent called “La Caverne” offered strong, hard-hitting ones. We will remember the inflamed B2B between Paula Temple and Rebekah as well as DJ AZF’s, Randomer’s and Umwelt’s dj sets. These artists, who rarely give gigs in Belgium, delighted Techno music lovers.
The only disappointing note, perhaps, is Paul Kalkbrenner live performance. It was main-stage worthy yet clearly too mainstream oriented with an unnecessary remix of Stromae without which underground music connoisseurs would have done well enough. That said, the well-renowned artist was so expected that a great atmosphere pervaded the whole set.
A ‘made in Belgium’ festival
Within the more-than 200 artists making up the stunning line-up, there were Belgian ones. Some are well-known, others less. Yet they all have something in common – they share an undeniably fine musical quality.
Under the tent called “Le Labo”, the same night the audience could dance on DC Salas’ and Soldout’s music.
Dc Salas achieved a high quality performance with his drummer, the singer from the duo band Joy Wellboy, and, to our pleasant surprise, an unexpected appearance of Charlotte Maison. The band in which she sings actually played one of its last gigs in a festival for they announced their end clap after 15 years of existence. It was a poignant moment for their fans, but the band rapidly converted it into positive and forceful energies for a live show that will rest in the Soldout’s history.
On the Red Bull Elektropedia Balzaal’s side, among the dozens of international artists, there was a bunch of Belgian ones. Goldffinch – the dj and producer duo from Brussels – kicked off in a fully mastered fashion, as their productions are. The day after, Goldfox followed suit and achieved a warm-up show rich in its diverse influences.
NO. Dour festival n°31 is not coming soon. We can only wait impatiently. This year’s edition was synonym to novelties. A new place, new infrastructures and a bunch of improvements to the camping’s site as well as the festival’s one itself. Obviously the regular visitors needed some time to get used to this new place, yet the festival needed to change – at least as far as festivalgoers’ comfort and well-being are concerned.What can we expect from the 31th edition? Let’s find out in a little less than a year…
Pic. by Cédric Dhooghe
Translation by Raphaël Rozenberg