Friday, 23 December 2016

On Stage: Dans Dans @ Bitterzoet

One of the things I like about festivals is discovering new bands. Especially smaller festivals with a razor sharp line-up usually have a few gems on the bill. My favourite festival Into The Great Wide Open usually has a few treasures up their sleeves and I saw Belgian trio Dans Dans play there a few years back. Now they have released their fourth album Sand and are playing a club tour.

Dans Dans at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, December 21 2016

This show is part of the Indiestad pass and the venue has filled up considerably. It is also part of something called "Supersonic Jazz", where Paradiso is programming acts that are blending jazz with other genres in a new way. This definitely is true for Dans Dans that are mixing jazzy grooves with blues, psychedelic rock and rock 'n roll.

There's a mic on stage, but it is hardly used since this is an instrumental band only. A few times guitar player Bert Dockx is saying "thanks" in the mic and mentions there's really not much more for him to say. Which is true, since the music does all the talking and it is talking plenty. In general the music is a bit dark with lots of character and definitely cinematical. It's as if they are playing the soundtrack of a David Lynch movie filled with unexpected twists and turns. You almost expect some femme fatal to walk in or some surrealistic plot twist to happen.

The three prove to be very skilled musicians and their music is usually loosely based around some jazzy theme on which they improvise. Now and then they will break out a catchy rock 'n roll tune or a lengthy psychedelic jam. Both Dockx and bassist Fred Jacquest are half facing drummer Steven Cassiers most of the times which shows how much they are challenging and following each other. At the same time it feels as if everything is actually thought out, which is a compliment, since everything is so tight and fits together perfectly. Dockx will sometimes kneel down to start a sample from a cassette player or other sounds. It may not always be straightforward music but on the surface it is very accessible and even hard to stand still to. This is exciting and well played music that is breaking down boundaries and should appeal to many.

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