Friday, July 15, 2005

Dungen at Maxwell's 

It was one of those shows where you crane your head around the room, look into different people's faces for a split second, and think with more than a little bit of amazement, "That person is here to see Dungen. Cool."

You wonder where these people come from. How did they find out? Who hipped them to this? Where do these people live? And why aren't more of them coming to my dj gigs?

Sure, there are always some people in the place who are just along for the ride, willing to accompany their friend who can't stop raving about this Swedish "dude that is a band/band that is a dude" who plays melodic psychedelic stoner rock like Steppenwolf crossed with Todd Rundgren. But the vast majority of the hipsters in the sold-out back room of Maxwell's—the ones who pumped their fists during the chorus of "Ta Det Lungt" and nodded their heads to "Festival"—all caught the buzz somewhere, clearly.

It started last year on the big MP3 blogs; I first heard about Dungen from a Stereogum post. Pitchfork had embraced them, lending instant cred among people who still cared what Pitchfork deigned to say in its CD reviews. (I only read Pitchfork for the release dates and tour news—honest.) When it was still an import on Swedish label Subliminal, I bought the CD Ta Det Lungt (which apparently translates to Take It Easy) at Kim's and was fairly blown away. I played them a couple times on my podcast. Rutgers grad and former Yeah Yeah Yeah scribe Brandon Stosuy interviewed the man behind the band, Gustav Ejstes. Kemado Records picked up for domestic release. Next thing you know, Gustav, backed by three musicians capable of reproducing his one-man rock attack, is selling out small clubs and playing at indie rock festivals sponsored by Pitchfork and The Village Voice.

He did all the key songs from Lungt and a few others that were unfamiliar to most. There were a couple long instrumentals. Gustav was mostly on guitar, but he played keys on a few tunes, including some longish psychedelic instrumentals. He busted out the flute on one song. The crowd could even see his face behind his long hair, most of the time anyway.

You can see him Saturday in Coney Island at the Siren Festival, along with a hunka hunka buncha other hip acts. Catch him while he's in the neighborhood. There's no telling when he'll be back.

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