Dungen at the Earl, Atlanta, GA

Dungen at the Earl, Atlanta, GA
Dungen at the Earl, Atlanta, GA, September 14, 2010. Photo by Jeff Pearson.
Originally published by Life’s Sweet Breath

It is a beautiful September evening in Atlanta, with autumn slowly waking up and filling our minds with false notions that tomorrow will not be as hot as the day before. Yes, it is a cool night, but inside the Earl is hotter than hell. This is not some metaphor for the scorching brand of psychedelic rock that Dungen brought with them from Sweden, however scorching it may be. The place just seriously needs some A.C.

No Joy started my evening off (Seventh Ring Of Saturn also played, but work had me detained). The half-beautiful quartet blared out noisy shoegaze to a very restrained room. The crowd definitely warmed up to their feedback-driven drone by the end of their set, with highlights including “No Summer” and “No Joy”. The female vocals provided a lovely foil to the wall of sound they create.

The crowd is beginning to buzz as 11 PM nears, and the band makes frequent trips to the stage setting up a guitar here, a setlist there. An almost tangible energy is building as Wilco’s “On And On” plays on the P.A., and just as the song ends, Dungen hits the stage. They come out with big smiles to match the big applause and immediately let us how grateful they are for it. “Skit I Allt” (Swedish for “Fuck It All”) opens things up, title track from new album of the same name. It is a very laid-back tune with bright acoustic guitar from frontman Gustav Ejstes and Reine Fiske decorating the jazzy piece with beautiful, dripping guitar tones.

Next is the familiar Dungen classic “Festival”, from Ta Det Lugnt, which truly sets the mood for the rest of the evening. The crowd becomes alive when Ejstes puts the acoustic down and jumps onto the keyboard and joins drummer Johan Holmegard and bassist Mattias Gustavsson in the frenzy of the rhythm. Holmegard expertly navigates his small set with huge fills and beautifully delicate cymbal work.

Dungen get us familiar with two more new songs, “Marken Låg Stilla” and “Vara Snabb”, keeping with the precisely arranged jazzy sounds of 4. “Vara Snabb” features Ejstes on the flute, which he informs us sadly has been left in Nashville. A member of the crowd promptly yells “Fuck Nashville!”, and Ejstes uses the opportunity of the flute-hunt to inform us that we are actually celebrating the release of the brand new album, Skit I Allt. Once a flute turns up, “Vara Snabb” proves to be a true highlight of the evening. The band segues into “Bortglömd”, an extended jam from Ta Det Lugnt, turning it into a hurricane. On the outskirts of the tune is a chaotic storm of instrumental psychedelia, and as we gradually get to the eye, the sounds begin to drip as through the ominous silence.

Another favorite in “Panda” keeps the crowd’s energy at this peak, and some genuine dancing is spotted. Holmegard is seen gesturing “two more” and they rip into set closer “Gör Det Nu”, an intense, bass-driven number from Tio Bitar, Dungen’s fourth album. Things end in the true Dungen fashion, Ejstes coloring the heavy psyched-out jam with the hazy keyboard tones. Gustavsson builds up a heavenly feedback with his bass amp and lets the crowd stew in it and stomp their feet for more.

They’re quick to come back out, and show their gratitude for Atlanta once more. They back up their statements of thanks with one more song, “Fredag” from their last studio effort, 4. Things end in a flash with an abrupt stop and sendoff into the cool (for now) Georgia night.

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