Donaufestival 2009, Day 2: Butthole Surfers, Black Dice, Goblin

The second of my three evenings at this year’s Donaufestival was by some way the weakest. I made it over to the Minoritenkirche in time to catch the set by Goblin, J’s favourite reunited Italian progressive horror film soundtrack artists. I tried to like them, I really did, but I found myself somewhat dispirited. Maybe I was at a disadvantage in not knowing the films from which most of the pieces were taken, but then again if the music required the presence of the moving images that originally accompanied them, those images could perhaps have been projected onto the screen behind the stage. In fact there were indeed plenty of images projected onto that screen, but they were all of the still variety and didn’t really add much to the music (J. reckoned there were technical goblins, er gremlins, which prevented the full multimedia experience from materialising).

In any event, the music signally failed to hold my attention, consisting as it did of widdly prog with lots of guitar and keyboard solos. In other words it was a pale shadow of the music of Genesis, a group which I will be forever grateful to my brother (S., are you reading this?) for introducing me to. In the past few years I’ve grown to love Genesis more and more (up to and including 1980’s Duke, naturally), as much for the verve and warmth of their extended instrumental passages as for Peter Gabriel’s and, yes, Phil Collins’s dramatic vocal interventions. Anyway, to these ears Goblin were like a poor man’s Genesis, their weak and pedestrian melodies a chore rather than a pleasure.

Back in the main hall later in the evening, both Black Dice and headliners Butthole Surfers proved similarly appeal-resistant. Black Dice were reminiscent of no less an authority than Beavis & Butthead – a bunch of chancers making an ill-formed and directionless racket because it was, like, rilly cool to do so. The incessant rhythmic nodding of the bloke on the right, presumably intended to signal some kind of Dionysian abandonment, was profoundly irritating. As for the Butthole Surfers, their twin-drummer assault was astonishing, but other than that the whole thing was just too swampy and aggressive for my tastes.

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