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Dungen, Woods

Dungen and Woods at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia, PA, August 16th, 2009

Sep 03, 2009 Web Exclusive
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Perhaps it’s best to think of Dungen and Woods as jam bands for people with higher standards. Both bands shared a stage one recent Saturday night at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia, and the sell-out crowd should ensure hearty audiences at future gigs. Back in Philly for their second time in less than a year, Dungen’s set split the difference between the ‘60s-influenced psych rock of its earlier releases and the jazzier side of their most recent effort, 4. The group sings entirely in Swedish (though Ejstes is fluent in English) and its set hit highlights like Ta Det Lugnt‘s “Festival,” Tio Bitar‘s “Du Ska Inte Tro Att Det Ordnar Sig” and 4‘s “Det Tar Tid.” While Ejstes is unquestionably the band’s central figure, on song after song, guitarist Reine Fiske lived up to the legacies of his ‘60s heroes, with Estes alternating between guitar and the electric piano that forms the backbone of so much of their latest offering.

Brooklyn lo-fi weirdos Woods opened the night, offering a 45-minute set of clattery, bedroom psychedelic folk and rock that alternated between extended noise freakouts and simpler traditional pop song structures. The quartet have an insular performance style, seemingly playing more for themselves than an audience; singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl spent his time away from the mic hunched over his axe, moving in a jerky style not unlike a child’s imitation of a robot, while the quartet’s drummer and bassist traded instruments back and forth.

Much of the set focused on tracks from their 2009 release Songs of Shame, including “The Number” and “Military Madness,” which closed out the show. On “To Clean,” the album’s opening number, Earl switched to an acoustic guitar (as he did on several other songs), but the track’s lead guitar line was nearly inaudible in the room, stripping the song of its most driving vital element.

Toward the end I found myself wondering why these two groups (and others of their ilk) haven’t yet become Bonnaroo regulars. Since branching out three years ago from it’s strictly jam band line-up, the Tennessee festival has incorporated more indie-friendly artists such as Animal Collective, Iron and Wine, and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, while still catering to the base that put them on the festival map by including jammy bands such as the recently-reunited Phish and Widespread Panic.

Dungen harken back to that same psychedelic jam-infused sound the festival celebrates, but unlike many of the hippiefied bands that grace the Bonnaroo stages, the Swedish quartet back it up with real substance and a sense of history, even including the more ridiculous elements of the genre that many psych revivalists leave out (flute solos, anyone?).

So pay attention, festival organizersyour next fan favorites are touring the U.S. now.


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Measurement Conversions
December 14th 2009

Festival organizers—your next fan favorites are touring the U.S. now.