We can safely say that once again, we had a Good Time at Dour. After our return to civilized life, I found myself in need of a few days of both mental and physical recovery, seemingly more so than with previous editions of Dour Festival; it makes me wonder if the drugs are getting stronger every year or if maybe we’re just getting older and increasingly incapable of sleeping in the front seat of a van or on a garbage-strewn patch of grass for three days straight with nothing but sweaty sandwiches, straight rum and unidentified pills and powders for sustenance. And maybe that is exactly the inescapable fate of the journalist who sets out to document what it’s like to partake in the modern version of the pagan ritual of beating drums and intoxicating substances. So we set out again, because no matter how many times you go to Hell and back, it’s never quite the same.
Yes, Dour Festival may have lost some of its intimacy and inner circle allure over the years, but it’s still by far the awesomest festival to go to in Belgium if you’re looking for both good music and a break from society’s oppressive need for that often overrated pipedream called Civilized Behaviour. There is just something inexplicably liberating about snapping out of your buzz for a second and finding yourself bare chested at some random stage, having no idea how you got there, then glancing around and realizing you’ve lost contact with everyone you know, only to catch the eye of some complete stranger standing next to you, share a grin and then jointly howl at the moon like a werewolf on acid. True freedom may not exist in this world or in this life, but I guess a few nights per year at Dour will allow you all the freedom you can handle by proxy. We say a few nights, because this is not the kind of Freedom anyone can bare to enjoy all year around.
Balance for this year: apart from the inevitable physical and neurological damage sustained in the line of duty, we managed to cut our losses to a bare minimum this edition. I guess after so many years in the field, you develop a sense of professionalism, a front-line instinct that kicks in when all other norms and standards go flying out the proverbial window. So apart from the obligatory lost pair of sunglasses, we left the festival with our bodies and dignity relatively intact when compared to other, more outlandish visits. No tourniquets, stitches, emergency compression bandages or blood transfusions were needed, which is saying a lot because all of us bare the scars of previous editions where things didn’t go quite so smooth. Memorable moments were spent with total strangers from all corners of this side of the globe, many improvised cocktails of unknown origin were consumed and after 3PM of day two, not one single bite of solid food was ingested. But hey, you know you’ve been dancing on the edge when it takes you 4 hours to down a raspberry smoothie, and tiptoeing that Frontier is what Dour Festival is all about, at least to a non-negligible percentage of its visitors.
So here’s to all of you, we hope your detox is over. Ours still isn’t, because just like every year, we returned from a warzone to a battlefield (Gentse Feesten) raging right outside our doorstep. Feels more or less like chasing a shot of tequila with a swig of that Vodka/Skittles abomination we had the displeasure of tasting last week. What a job.