Dour Festival 2011 review

'The Belgian bash is a must for anyone'

Dour Festival 2011 review

Photographer: Joanna Kurkowska21 July 2011

Dour may be a sleepy little town in Belgium, but its annual music festival is far from a gathering dozing elders, sipping Iced Tea and listening to Gretry. In fact, those wristband-ed up are rather wild, with enough eccentrically-dressed fans letting their locks down like a trippy hippies from the ‘60s.

It might be the beer, but the locals are friendly; they’ll take you in, buy you a foam-topped bevvy and dance you off into the night. It’s lucky then that dubstep, drum n bass and reggae boom out of many of the tents.

The soundsystems are great too, with the bass rattling the crowd’s chests and encouraging hoards to dance en masse. UK favourites Digital Soundboy (9/10) play a collective show consisting of Shy FX and Breakage, to name but a few. The boys push it from DnB to dirty, dirty dubstep shaking the floorboards under foot.

Yes, that’s right: floorboards. Six out of the seven stages at Dour are huge circus style tents, which is good news as it’s absolutely tipping it down. The ground is lined with wood which makes an excellent escape from the rain and as the wet weather sheets it down, waterproof layers are being stripped off inside.

Other standouts over the weekend include Jamaican reggae superstar Johnny Clarke (7/10) and US hip-hop legends Public Enemy (8/10). The ska-drenched tunes of Johnny Clarke turn morning frowns in to glowing smiles, allowing everyone to ignore the weather.

Then, as dusk approaches, Flavor Flav bounds onstage swinging his famous clock necklace from side to side. It’s heyday hip-hop at his best, yet within the modern climate it sounds almost humorous.

Organisers also schedule breaks between the larger acts, allowing thousands to dash between stages and catch their favourite bands. It’s great to have no major clashes and see the likes of Pulp (8/10) perform electrified oldies like 'Common People', even if the crowd is a bit thin on the ground. They smash out some absolute anthems though with Jarvis juddering around the stage.

House Of Pain (3/10) however, only offer a disappointing set. Screaming vocals and crazy samples interrupt many of the classics giving no flow or rhythm to the show. Pendulum (9/10) though seem bigger in Belgium than they are in the UK. They have the crowd encapsulated with their drum and bass/metal crossover. No one knows whether to head-bang or jog on the spot. Either way, it’s great fun.

No two festivals are the same and liberal European festival-goers make Dour Festival 2011 a great, yet simple affair. It’s the perfect event for anyone wanting to experience a different type of festival from your average kind of stuff. For any UK electronica fans, there are plenty of big names on offer as well, and couple this with the cheap ticket and easy and affordable transport costs and it’s a must for anyone.

By Dale Crawford-Drake

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