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Dungen: Live at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis


Written by: Corey Tate

This was the craziest, most enthralling show I've been to in a long time. First, the odd pairing of both Mia Doi Todd and Dungen, complete musical opposites, couldn't have been better. They were both so able to capture their audience in captivation, it was incredible.

Mia Doi Todd, the quiet and shy woman, was able to hold the attention of the entire bar with her spellbinding voice and subtle acoustic guitar. If Mia Doi Todd was a drug, everybody would be addicted to her. Her voice was mesmerizing, asking for your attention so strongly while you're completely willing to give it anyway. She seemed shy in between songs - she would actually speak away from the microphone in an almost timid way. I was 15 feet from her and I had trouble hearing what she said. But then she would start a song, and her voice would be completely strong and hypnotizing like a siren.

And Dungen. Sweaty rock heroes caught in a time warp between the psychedelic sixties and the indie rock two thousands. They can move so seamlessly betweeen indie rock and being an almost psychedelic JAM band - using feedback as instrument and harmonizing the keyboard with the feedback coming from the guitar amp - that you would swear they are hippies posing as indie rock heroes posing as hippies. And the way they are completely unabashed about the pairing of the two polar opposite genres makes them seem just that much cooler. The crazy freneticism of their sound can oscillate betweeen sweaty guitar riffs to pastoral psychedelia from the Swedish countryside - and they make it fit together so well it makes you wonder why no one has done it this way before.

Dungen moves between some psychedelic pathology where you expect David Gilmour of Pink Floyd to emerge onstage - fresh from the recording of Live At Pompeii, all full of dirt from playing lap steel slide guitar in the Roman Coliseum. But Dungen plays a form of indie rock as well, so you have to expect them to have a sort of edginess and hipness, and the band seems to exude that inbetween songs without even trying.

When the band announced the next song would be their last song, it was met with disapproval, to which singer Gustav Ejstes said "but it might be a long song." The indifference and uncertainty being front and central, and the band was so quipping and non-committal that it all seemed like a funny joke that no one took seriously but hoped that they would play for a long time anyway.

It was not in the cards though, as guitarist Reine Fiske broke a string after 4-5 minutes of sweaty, blustery, patchouli soaked feedback and chaotic noise, ripping the broken string off of his guitar and throwing it down to the ground where it landed within a quarter inch of falling into an electrical outlet on the stage. Undeterred, the band soldiered on for another minute or so, trying to keep on, but the string proved to be an important one as they could not play on without it. They ended the song, most in the crowd oblivious to the fact that the song had been cut short due to circumstances beyond the band's control. With all of the markings of a saavy bunch of players, they played it off without a hitch, and most people didn't even notice - further proof of the bands competence and high level of ability. These guys awed and impressed me more and more with every moment.

Lead singer Gustav Ejstes could move with all of the crazy ferverence of Joe Cocker in the midst of a hyperactive loss of control - tambourine in hand, hips out of control. All the while the music was blowing me away with its ability to captivate and tap into my subconscious, and remind me of what it's like to be lost in a dream while still awake, standing in a crowd of people, in a club with a live band playing. The ability to get lost in that is what Dungen is all about - you escape reality, get swept away to some pastoral, psychedelic, unbelievably rocking sense of music in which reality is about fantasy and fantasy is the norm.

RATING: ****** 6 out of 5 stars

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Show Date:
October 7th, 2005

Recording Label:
Kemado Records

400 Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota


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