Dour Festival, Dour – Belgium
By the time Wu-Tang arrive on stage I’m too wasted to count them but apparently it was a full complement! Predictably, they have the crowd in a frenzy without really looking all too bothered about the affair, and though I’m glad to have seen the group together, I have better hazy memories of their members’ various solo turns in dingy Manchester clubs in recent years. As we stagger off to find a spot for some late night dancing, we’re torn between Erol Akan’s Disco 3000 project and earnest Latin beats from Gramatik. In the end we party in both tents before stumbling back to our own.
Waking up in the baking sun with sore heads, we take our time on Friday. Sampling some of the delicious (and reasonably priced) food concessions on offer and sunbathing, we end up missing Com Truise, but arrive at his tent in time to catch Dan Deacon’s bafflingly brilliant live set up. Flanked by two powerhouse drummers and pitch-shifting his screams throughout, the mild-mannered Deacon’s timid accent comes as a shock when he introduces his fifteen minute finale by apologising for the lack of merchandise available. Falling somewhere between Animal Collective and Mixhell, Deacon’s music defies description. Unfortunately his captivating live setup also plays next act, Darkstar, off the stage. Although the trio encounter some difficulties with their monitors from the off, their turgid performance cannot be put down to technical issues. As a big fan of their debut, ‘North’, I coerce the other half to sit at the back for a further twenty minutes before we decide that waiting for ‘Aidy’s Girl is a Computer’ isn’t worth it. A big disappointment.
After refilling our glasses we try to pick which of the plethora of artists on offer to head to next. We plump for Ben UFO over Amon Tobin, and are pleased to find a typical master-class from the young talent. However, as the crowds begin to file out after forty-five minutes, we decide to follow their lead and end up bouncing around to Cyril Hahn’s dancefloor reworks. The Swiss producer has hit the big time and the few of his own productions which make his set suggest that he may be around to stay. Unsurprisingly he milks the crowd’s applause before dropping the ubiquitous ‘Say My Name’ for his finale. The girls, predictably, went wild.
Four Tet is up next, and his set is stronger than ever. Despite including quite a few newer cuts, like ‘Pyramid’ and ‘The track I’ve been playing…’, his set is a big hit in the tent Modeselektor destroyed 24 hours earlier. Though not as full-on and frenzied as the techno duo, Four Tet remains one of the best live DJs around, and his hour is a highlight for the two of us. In truth the rest of the night is a bit of a blur, but Rustie and Karenn earn ticks on my programme for their high-octane performances, while Nathan Fake’s is apparently deemed worthy only of an unhappy face in what I assume is my last act before passing out.
The next morning is tough. Waking at 8am and desperately following shade around our campsite, we eventually get ourselves together in time for a Simian Mobile Disco/Jurassic 5/Flying Lotus triple header. Easing ourselves into the London duo’s set by remaining outside the rammed tent, I’m pleased to see them retain their old hits without compromising their minimalist new live show, as ‘It’s the Beat’ segues seamlessly into a punishing ‘Hustler’. This is very much ‘no-frills SMD’, and the Belgian crowd responds as wildly as they had two nights earlier – the intense white lights casting the producers’ huge shadows across the tent. Fully shaken free of any lasting damage from the previous night we head to watch J5 on the main stage. We had been roused awake by James Ford and Jas Shaw, but it was the four L.A. MC’s who wasted no time in getting us into the party spirit. Boundlessly enthusiastic throughout and even featuring an interval for the group’s two resident scratch pioneers Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark to showcase their skills, this was easily the most fun I’ve had watching a festival headline set. No posturing, and seemingly chuffed to be there, Wu-Tang Clan could stand to learn a little from the West Coast!