Progressive rock is alive and well with Dungen & Wolf People

Dungen & Wolf People @ the Fox Cabaret 7/8/17

Photo by Ryan Johnson

It was one of the best shows of the year and most of the crowd didnt understand a single lyric. On the intimate stage of the Fox Cabaret, Vancouver concert fans witnessed a stunning dual band bill last Monday (Aug 7); Swedish pop/progressive masters Dungen shared the stage with almost equally impressive opening act Wolf People. Both groups played with gorgeously rich analogue sets with heavy nods to the ambitious 70s prog rock era. Vancouvers dedicated psychedelic rock community turned out in decent strength for one of the best double bills and strongest overall performances of the year. Dungen, an enigmatic group from Stockholm is all the more alluring because of their largely unfamiliar Scandinavian musical tendencies and lyrics. The band is recognized by many contemporary musicians as forward-thinking musical minds. Dungens strong Vancouver performance readily reinforced that notion.

Echoing the rolling, drifting guitar-led feel of Jethro Tull, Wolf People offered convincing support. A particularly polite set of heavily accented Englishmen, Wolf People play sleek, meandering prog rock with a hefty dose of English folk flavour that gives reverent treatment to rock stylings of older times. With well-worn fender guitars and a fine-tuned chemistry, Wolf People play a imaginative and memorable twist that sounded out of this era in the best possible way.

Dungen is the project of band mastermind Gustav Ejstes, who performs most of the instrumental parts on the bands studio recordings. In the live setting, Dungen are a hardworking four piece, with both Ejstes and guitarist Reine Fiske respectively switching from guitars to organs and digital mellotron. With a sleek depth and highly dynamic range, Dungen blurs the lines of genre with their idiosyncratic blend of psych, pop and progressive rock. Beginning with Kalifenfrom this years release Haxan, Dungens performance started  with spooky, cool, surrealist lounge music. Explorative, colourful and cinematic, Dungens tasteful arrangements are often in a league of their own. On their second number, Dungen knocked out a wonderfully jarring version of fan favourite Fredag, demonstrating why so many talented musicians, such as Tame Impalas Kevin Parker look up to Ejstes work. Dungens catalogue is both deep and compelling with new cuts such as the piano and mellotron powered Achmed Flyer, also from the bands latest release, dazzling the audience with a snappy tempo and rolling melody. Shifting between piano rich melody oriented compositions and more furious Krautrock influenced guitar fury, Dungen skillfully cover a dynamic range although the band sound particularly awesome when they are playing at their loudest.

Between Wolf Peoples mesmerizing opening set, the compelling, intimate nature of the Fox Cabaret and a fluid, versatile headlining set, the Dungen show more than delivered.