I visited Croatia last year for Outlook Festival and had the absolute time of my life, but felt this year that the crowd was going to be a little bit too rowdy/young so managed to change my travel dates and swap my ticket out for the organizers new sister festival, Dimensions held in the same venue, an abandoned Austrian fort, on the shores of Croatia a week later.
The decision to change festivals was by all accounts the best decision I could make, even though there were a few hiccups along the way, and I will definitely be back next year if I can.
The festival started for me on Wednesday with some of the pre parties on the beach bar/stage and catching up with friends from Europe who I hadn’t seen in the last 12 months. As always with the pre parties it tends to be a bit of open deck madness and sets can be a little hit or miss, but always a good time. One thing that obviously stood out though was the 100% inflated price of food and drink inside the festival grounds, vs in restaurants in Pula (A small glass of beer in the festival was 30kn, whereas a large mug of beer is 15-18kn in most restaurants and bars nearby) and the rubbish festival food!
Another thing that people had to contend with were the local cab drivers, who again, were charging massively inflated prices for foreigners, and only certain ones had access to the festival gates, meaning punters were paying heaps more than they should to get around – and some of the local “independent” drivers were pretty menacing.
We did however encounter two amazing drivers, who we have used throughout our entire stay – a father and daughter combo of drivers operating from a Fazana taxi company. They went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, offered us lots of local support and knowledge, and provided the cheapest and cleanest cabs we’ve been in. So if you are at outlook or dimensions next year I recommend saving Fazana Taxis number in your cell phone.
I ran into Lenny from the Audio Doughnuts crew (who I’d played with in London last year) who asked me if I still had my laptop/serato with me and whether I’d like to play a set. This of course what pretty much a dream offer, so called up our friends at Fazana taxis and gapped it back to our flat to get the gear.
After a bit of negotiation with security (I didn’t have accreditation, or a backstage pass this year!) I managed to get to the Courtyard Stage (AD Presents..) to see awesome sets from Henry Zest, Nick James, Lenny Legaspi with a mixture of house, garage, juke and bass music. I got to play at around 9:30, on an absolutely huge sound system.
Koreless dropped on of the most amazing sets I’ve seen from a hardware/ableton live type setup. Without a doubt he is one of the best producers in the world at the moment. I love how he is able to freestyle some elements in his tunes when using ableton, stretching out the precussion or bass in a tune, I remember Away VIP being teased for ages until it dropped with every girl in the crowd going wild!
Later on Matt and the rest of the dark sky crew jumped on with a 3 way back to back set dropping bombs from across the bass music spectrum.
Later in the night we were treated to an amazing set from George Fitzgerald, one of the stand outs of the festival for me playing a massive set of UK infused house that filled the courtyard until close. I can’t even begin to describe the vibe in the room when he dropped “lights down”.
At this stage the night starts getting a bit hazy, mainly due to the ridiculous amount of beer we were buying. I remember desperately trying to hold out for Kozee’s set (I missed seeing her in London for various reasons last year and had promised to check it out) but my body was starting to feel the jetlag/beer/sore legs, so I called it a night and jumped in (big mistake) a random taxi. Long story short they picked up some english guys who couldn’t remember where they lived. An hour later (it was a 5 minute trip home) and I’d finally walked through the door, realising if I hadn’t of grabbed that taxi I could have checked Kozee’s set and still got into bed at the same time.
4 hours later I had to be awake again for the XLR8R.com boat party down by the dock. Got hold of our trusty taxi drivers at Fazana taxi’s this time and was promptly picked up and dropped off, and chilled out waiting for the staff to get us onto the boat. At this stage its worth mentioning one of the bigger organisational cockups of the festival – boat party ticketing. Dimensions uses Leeds Tickets for most of their ticketing, but for some reason they use see tickets for the boat parties. In order to use your ticket you also need to bring the credit card you purchased the ticket on (frustrating when travelling) and to make matters worse, all boat party tickets (which were just emails, not even proper etickets) had the finish time instead of the start time on them. Luckily I’d spotted a note about this on Facebook, a lot of punters however hadn’t and I’d say that our boat (that had sold out) was only about 50% full on departure.
That said – (even with only 4 hours sleep and a raging hangover), the boat party was an absolute highlight of the Festival, with Koreless again playing an amazing set as we went out into the harbour, followed by Shawn Reynaldo from XLR8R, a very hungover darksky contingent (I feel partially responsible for that due to our drinking the night before)
Machinedrum played an absolute standout set on the boat party, going from instrumental hip hop beats, reggae, dubstep, jungle and juke. It was huge. Seriously if he is on offer in NZ ever – then book him. You won’t be dissapointed.
Later that night we rocked to the main festival, unfortunately the Mungos Arena feat Hessle Audio vs Swamp81 was completely rammed with a 40 minute long queue, so we gave it a miss, instead hitting the Leisure system stage.
We managed to catch Jimmy Edgar, Addison Groove, Machinedrum (again) and Object play amazing sets on this stage. Kiwis, you will be catching Jimmy Edgar shortly at Cassette 9, make sure you reach for it. I was really impressed with his set in croatia. Also make sure you catch Addison groove either pitching the hell out of this julio bashmore tune, or remixing it juke style (can’t tell but I like it).
After missing the Mungos arena the last two nights, there was only one place I wanted to be. That was of course in front of one of the heaviest reggae sound systems in Europe, hosting none other than exit records. Protip for this, make sure you bring proper musician earplugs, they are worth every cent and allow you to really enjoy the massive bassweight. Below is just one half of the system.
Thing started off with Indigo and Synkro playing amazing deep soulful bass music from across the spectrum. I’d started following their music with the Deep Heads releases and have wanted to see them for the last few years. Stand out sets from the guys.
Their set was followed up with Trevino AKA Maruc Intallex keeping it deep, but with harder techno influences.
Then the highlight of my night – being Kiwi producer now based in London, Consequence. He played an amazing set, not for the faint hearted, starting with Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy, then then unforgiving half time electronica and Drum & Bass. Definitely a set for the DJs, Producers, Chinstrokers and Music Nerds. Some of the younger kids didn’t know what hit them!
I made my way down to the festival and rolled into Lobo (another kiwi) who was walking up the road to Stinjan who told me about a tragic event that had happened either that morning or night. A 28 year old irish festival attendee had drowned. I can only imagine how hard it must be for the festival organizers to cope with this, as we had a similar thing happen when an attendee of one of our events had crashed his car into a lamp post 5 hours after a gig we’d run. Unfortunately there was no real information provided to anyone, so rumours were about as to whether the festival had been shut down by local police or what was happening.
We decided it wouldn’t be respectful to party on the same beach the day someone had passed, and ran into our local taxi driver in the campsite carpark and some brits who had been using her as well. She offered to take us elsewhere which lead to an amazing day at “Crazy” beach bar in Valbondan. At first we weren’t impressed by the simple hut on the beach but it turned out to be my favorite day spent during the festival time, drinking cheap (15kn) beers, eating massive pizza, chilling with puppies on the beach and getting (very slowly) sunburnt. I think we managed to spend 12 hours chilling on the steps of the bar drinking, and then dancing to some londoners ipod.
The owners of the bar (Ivan and Mia) were possibly where the name crazy comes from, and were an absolute laugh, and awesome to hang with. So friendly and asking if we’d like to DJ on Monday and even stay at their house next year (unfortunately I ended up injuring my foot walking home and walking into a brick in the dark, meaning I couldn’t turn up in the end). If you are looking for a post party for outlook/dimensions make sure you hit these guys up.
Without a doubt, its been one of the most enjoyable events I’ve attended in my life. I’ll definitely be attending again. Sure there were some unfortunate hiccups, but none of them affected my enjoyment of the event, and they were more than made up for by the amazing hospitality, landscape, lineup and a chance to see friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time.