DARK BOMBASTIC EVENING 2012 – Day 2 – Romania

DARK BOMBASTIC EVENING 2012 – Day 2 – Romania

My friends and I called the second day of DBE a ‘folk day’, considering the names on the lineup. And it started as such, with the Italians from Rose Rovine e Amanti and their neofolk rock with a red rose attached to the hat. We actually thought several times that they sing in Romanian, this is how much the two languages sound alike (unless he used a special Italian dialect in his lyrics). Musically, we were treated with a continuous change between electric and acoustic guitar for the main singer, keyboards, violin and a drummer who maintained the grooviness of their songs. I was happy that they seemed to set a good mood among the audience, setting the right state for the bands to come after them. The first one in the series was the Romanian – Italian mix going by the name Sunset in the 12th House, also invited for the second time at this festival, due an unfortunate cancellation of another band. But this was rather fortunate for me as the guys had the chance to perform live songs from their first album and what a thrill for the ear this was. With two percussionists on stage, one on regular drums, one on African like ones, hand held (I can’t recall if they have a dedicated name), I was immediately sold to the grooviness of each tune. There were hardly any vocals used in the lyrics, leaving place for a sweet flow of guitars, bass and mandolin mix and an increased level of curiousity for the upcoming album. I recommend you don’t miss it. Plus, I was more than happy to see the great response from the Romanian crowd, who didn’t seem to have enough of the guy’s performance.

HEXVESSEL @ Dark Bombastic Evening 4 (Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

A bunch of musicians filled the stage for the next concert and they are playing with the name Hexvessel and bring us a psychedelic forest folk rock as far as I was informed. But irregardless of the music categorisation, they bring us beautiful music. It was fantastic to stand in front of the stage and try to visually capture what each musician does and at the same time trying to figure out the overall sound entering your ears. It felt really pretty, like it did when I shortly listened to some tunes prior to the festival. I saw people dancing and clapping with enthusiasm between songs. It was the band’s second performance at the festival and I’m pretty sure they had a great time both on stage and also among the Romanian audience. They kept smiling as long as I saw them on stage and, even if they couldn’t release their newest album at Alba Iulia, I was told they played some of the new compositions that, like the entire setlist, sounded fantastic.

COULISSES @ Dark Bombastic Evening 4 (Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

Fantastic (and more than that) is one of the words to describe the next performance on stage. I somehow missed the name Coulisses in the list and thought that the next performers are called Isobel & November. They started as a duo on stage, with one guy on keyboards and a bearded guitarist in front of the microphone. When he started to sing, I felt like hypnotised. It’s been a while since I heard such an awesome voice that simply leaves me with my mouth open and unable to move away from the stage. The duo played few more songs, quite intimate and dark, folkish sounds. The keyboard player switched to drums eventually, keeping a soft and surprising back rhythm for the lovely voice and the guitar. After a while, the guitar and its carrier left the stage, making room for a cool drum solo, after which the other people in the band came up on stage, taking over the bass, the drums (the previous drummer went back to his keyboards and/or guitar). The singer also came back and all of a sudden the music switched to a bit more psyched (apparently country and goth) music. Extremely beautiful stuff, usually starting softly and cozy and ending up in a madness of sounds during which Per Erik (the singer) seemed to go berserk. He didn’t even bother to replace the broken string on his guitar. So, actually what happened on stage was that Coulisses is another project of Per Erik’s, but as they didn’t have a lot of material for a full concert, they combined their set with Isobel & November. Actually, this was the first live appearance of Coulisses as far as I understand and I am more than happy to have been able to witness that. It was the biggest and most beautiful surprise of the festival for me. Not to mention I always had to move back and forth as the light kept on changing during their set, making it for more and more interesting photos as well. Another mention about this concert is that for one of the songs, everyone in the audience was called ‘pussy’ and so were the band members. That was because it was dedicated to the ‘Pussy Riot’ scandal, in order to show the solidarity with the imprisoned musicians.

THEODOR BASTARD @ Dark Bombastic Evening 4 (Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

I don’t even recall when I was done with the eating process, but pretty soon it was time for the Russians in Theodor Bastard. I had listened to their ethno trip hop before and I found it rather beautiful and full of emotions. The live experience raised the beauty to even higher standards. The darkness had surrounded the stage so their pretty singer was interpreting and gracefully dancing under various colors dictated by the stage lights. Her voice was simply beautiful from one end to another and they even got to play an extra song, that’s how much the crowd and Doru, the organiser, loved it. Once again I saw a bunch of people dancing in front of the stage or along the walls and benches. There were such good vibes in the air going from and to the stage that I somehow wished that concert would end the evening and would last for few more hours. Yet, it had to stop and the Russians had to leave the stage to make room for the Poles in Job Karma. A duo presenting their ambiental computer music (as all I noticed on stage were two laptops and a bunch of cables) with a heavy accent on visual images projected in the background. With all my respect for the artists’ work and ideas, I was too tired at that hour to watch anything on a screen and I simply can’t spend more than 3 minutes looking at people playing music behind the computers. Hence I took a small retreat in the ‘party’ area of Ryma (quiet at that time) and enjoyed the silence and an encounter with some familiar faces.

OF THE WAND AND THE MOON  @ Dark Bombastic Evening 4 (Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

I returned later to the main stage to have a look at the Danes from Of the Wand and the Moon and check out the sound of their neo folk tunes which felt quite shamanistic at times. It seemed like there’s plenty of beautiful, almost magic, music coming out from the speakers but my level of tiredness didn’t allow to focus for too long, so I just had to put them on my ‘to listen to’ list. I sort of regret not being able to enjoy their music live, but after so many lovely moments during that day, I guess I was allowed. I do hope to see them live again on a better day. The last show of this incredible festival was delivered by The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensamble. The albums that I listened from this Dutch project are full of mystery and a dark, intense ambience, which they try to replicate live and combine with a set of moving images that play on the background. There’s a bunch of instruments either working together or allowing one of them to stand out and let you discover its beauty (the trumpet sounds were hypnotising). I was sad that they didn’t have a drummer on stage (unless he was well hidden behind all the tall supports for PCs and such), but glad I got to experience them live. Probably a god choice for the final show as the music invited you to retreat in a corner of your mind and enjoy the silence around you. Yet, my brain was feeling as if it’s about to shut down, so I spent a big part of the show trying to find someone to walk back to the hotel with. I was too tired to even think of the idea of catching a cab.

Dark Bombastic Evening 4 (Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

I think there’s many other words that can be said about this festival. And about each of the bands. Probably someone with more and deeper knowledge of these underground genres might have succeeded in giving you a better picture of what the two days in Alba Iulia have offered us, music wise. For me, it was a lovely treat. I’m glad to have discovered new bands and re-experience the ones I already knew from before. But most of all I am glad for the two days of openness and friendly atmosphere. I believe the best ending for this review is to send big thanks to Doru and everyone in his team involved to make this event happening and running so smoothly. I heard rumors that maybe this might be the last DBE edition. It would be a real pity if this is the truth, yet, people who got to attend the events are probably left with some amazing memories and stories to tell over and over again. But with or without this festival, after having experienced such an event, I believe that the words on DBE’s page footer state the truth – ‘Underground will never die!’ Amen!