It’s finally the time of the year that we all have been waiting for OUTLOOK Festival. I shared my Outlook Festival adventure with a good friend from The Netherlands. We drove 18 hours to get to the magical country of Croatia. When we finally arrived in Pula it was hell to find the shittiest hotel ever. The photos were great on the internet: big beds and nice rooms and even with an inside swimming pool. There was no inside swimming pool it was just decoration inside a restaurant. And when we checked in we got the smallest room in the hotel with the smallest bathroom and the worst beds. It was unacceptable, I was not going to stay for two weeks in the smallest room for that kind of price. So I complained the next morning to the receptionist in order to get a better room. And I succeeded! We got a much better room with a bigger bathroom and much better beds than before. If I can give you one piece of advice if you want to book a hotel for Outlook Festival 2015, don’t book it at hotel “Galija”. Believe me, I was not the only one who complained “The Channel One Soundstystem” crew was at the same hotel. But enough complaining!! IT’S PARTY TIME!
The day before the opening concert, Tuesday 2nd September, a lot of people may think there is no party yet at Outlook Festival. There may not be one in Fort Punta Christo, but there is definitely a beach party. There is Pacino’s Beach Bar, a smaller, more intimate stage to the left of the beach and the Dub Smugglers’ stage is back; no introduction needed!
The first artist I hear is at Pacino’s Beach Bar. It’s Majora, providing heavy dubstep vibrations in my chest, a good introductory performance. Later we go to the main event: the Dub Smugglers Sound System stage. Each second it gets busier as more people arrive. Everyone is dancing, full of energy, and enjoying the music; a taster of what’s to come.
The next day is the Outlook Festival opening concert, held in the 2000 year old Amphitheatre. First we need something to eat and we choose the best pizzeria in Pula centre: Pizzeria Jupiter. We have eaten our bellies full and it’s time for us to accept Outlook’s invitation to start the festival. Sadly, we missed Submotion Orchestra but the main act, Lauryn Hill, is still to come, along with support act Andrew Ashong. We enter an immense Amphitheatre and hear support act Fatima and her voice booming around the cylindrical walls, and after drinking a couple of beers we wander around and perch on the tribune. The amphitheatre is filling up and there appears Ms. Lauryn Hill, without any introduction or hello. Her voice is beautiful, her look seems reinvented and her controversial set commences. Expecting to hear those reminiscent hip hop sounds of the 90s, she gives us a jazz version of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She keeps the best for last: Doo Wop (That Thing) and we’re lucky enough to hear it in its original style.
We head back to the campsite in order to continue the festivities and we take the ferry boat from Pula Harbour, right to the Harbour stage, which costs around €7,00 for the return journey. On the way to the campsite we make new friends and are told about another gem in the form of a beach party at the “Crazy Beach Bar”. The campsite is pretty sleepy except the intoxicated murmurs of a group still up from the night before, but the dark sounds of techno coming from around the bay lure us in. They play until 05:30 a.m but with less than 24 hours until the festival actually starts, this is quite sufficient.
Thursday the first day of the festival. I can’t wait to see “Truth” for the first time. His set is in the moat, the famous 100m long moat, where you see a set of speakers every five meters, more than three metres high, lining both sides, meaning everyone gets the same dose of bass. When we arrive, “V.I.V.E.K“. is starting his set and warming up . Truth commences playing some heavy dubstep with some good vocals.
I had heard a lot about Buraka Som Sistema and their ability to hype the crowd and when we get there we see the audience going crazy. Blaya is jumping around the stage shaking her infamous derrière and the Portuguese influence of their music allows for a really engaging and energetic set, down at the Harbour stage.
Friday, I’m lucky enough to have an interview with Ruby, the vocalist of the band Submotion Orchestra and Noah Ball, one of the organisers of Outlook. You can also read this interview on Ohana-Magazine. Finally, after finishing the interview it’s time for some heavy wobbling on a boat in the Istrian sea. I can’t wait for my first boat party after four years at Outlook Festival. It’s not just any boat party, it’s the Contact boat party with Youngsta, Icicle, J-Kenzo, Truth, Unicorn FUKR hosted by LX One. The boat party starts at 7:30 p.m and after some dancehall reggaeton at the beach, we sprint to the Harbour stage where the boats are waiting. Once on the boat we have an opportunity to talk with the artists and the first act, Unicorn FUKR starts with some chilled dubstep to accompany the sunset. As the sky gets darker, the beat of the dubstep follows. It’s J-Kenzo’s birthday the next day and he’s treated to a “happy birthday” sing along from the fellow DJs and the crowd.
Action Bronson is Busta Rhymes’ replacement. The ‘Gimme Some More’ artist has had to cancel due to an unforeseen court appearance but Action Bronson is swiftly found and he brings as much hype to the Croatian fort. Action Bronson is finished and I reflect: it was great but Busta Rhymes would have been legendary. Next comes Andy C with MC GQ and I’m never ready for this man! His set is unbelievable and the atmosphere is live. Andy C playing a set to thousands at a Croatian harbour while you’re feeding off the vibes of every other man there makes it an unbelievable atmosphere. Every year Andy C, a true legend in the drum & bass world, delivers.
Saturday is the biggest night of Outlook Festival and we have marked all the favourite artists on the timetable: Phaeleh, Author, Pinch, Channel One, Eliphino, Loefah , Zed Bias, DJ Premier not forgetting Congo Natty ft. Daddy Freddy, General Levy & Lady Chann. For such a big night you need to line your stomach so we head to Restaurant “El Pulari” for some delicious Mexican food. At the festival, we arrive at the Harbour stage just as DJ Premier is starting his set and we go straight to the front because we want see his famous DJ skills. He brings out the Biggie Smalls tunes and he brings out some 2-Pac tunes as well and he plays with the audience. After a DJ mix set from DJ Premier, we stay a bit for Congo Natty’s live set with Daddy Freddy, General Levy & Lady Chann but on the timetable we see Digital Mystikz, Mala & Coki collaboration are clashing at The Clearing. The difficult decision is made and we’re on our way there where it’s evident that everyone else had chosen between the two.
Sunday proves the hardest day for me at Outlook Festival but not the dullest. It’s that mixture of the sorrow of the festival drawing to a close and four nights’ worth of hangovers. The Channel One boat party at 16:15 with Channel One Soundsystem, Earl Gateshead and Solo Banton is enough to stop me feeling sorry for myself and carry on! Watching the artists load on to the boat and start preparing and the zion bunting getting hung up from the queue, we’re shortly granted access to the party boat too. People assemble at the bar, at the front of the top deck, around the sides and we hear the rumble of the engine along with the first dubplate drop. On the top deck of the boat we see the Harbour stage disappear but we’re treated to a panorama of the rest of the coastline where you see people cliff jumping into the sea in slow motion, the infamous bridge and groups of friends assembled on the rocks creating their own little beach for the day. The vibe is incredible on the boat; it’s an intimate setting and it’s special, you see the artists’ enjoyment up close and personal and you know you are in the presence of some of your favourite artists doing what they love. The bass of the reggae is beating in your heart, the sun is shining HOT and you’re dancing with a beautiful girl on a boat in Croatia, and then you appreciate it and think:‘LIFE IS GOOD’. There are more boat parties and Drum & Bass Arena is our closest neighbour at the moment. There’s a friendly rivalry where each boat is trying to be louder, the people trying to be rowdier and it seems the captains of the boat are criss-crossing the paths on purpose to add to the hype. Drum & Bass vs. Reggae & Dub. But we dance in our own way, we love the music in our own way. No time for much else at that point. Four hours on the boat means we see the sun going to bed against the horizon of the Adriatic Sea and that feeling inside starts again where it may be the end of the day, but it’s equally the start of the night. Ruefully the boat party has to finish but we get off to start the last adventure in Fort Punta Christo.
Walking inside the fort at 9:00 p.m is an odd experience, and I’ve never done it before, even the Moat is empty despite excellent music. As fast as possible we arrive at the Inside the Fort stage to support some friends: Brittune & MC Twitchee Cords. Their first time playing Outlook Festival and it was a great success, with their mixture of just about everything new and old skool, garage, drum & bass, jungle, house. A sick selection of tunes. After this set we need to freshen up and we head back to the camp site to start the pre-party. The usual rituals are followed: we drink, we dance, we talk and we meet our camping neighbours and other passers-by but it’s David Rodigan’s night and we head off to give him ‘SOME SIGNAL’! It’s important to know that David Rodigan’s spirit doesn’t age and he’s true to form jumping like a teenager on stage. His tunes are the usual feel good, loved up selection from varied genres and times with reggae, jungle, dubstep, funk and jazz and it’s not long before groups of friends are in circles embracing each other and singing in unison. This is what David Rodigan does to a crowd. We’re going to The Void where Loefah is playing; it’s my first Loefah experience. There’s no queue tonight so we take advantage of the empty front railings. Arriving at the front we are overwhelmed by the sound system; we’ve never seen anything like this. It’s immense and the bass is incredible, beyond a treat for a dubstep veteran. Looking at the timetable we see that Mala is playing at Mungo’s Arena and after a ten minutes wait in the queue we’re in. Mala is playing a mélange of DMZ and his own material with an MC and the good times are shared between him and the audience equally. We stay a while for Swindle before going back to the harbour to catch the last, and legendary, set of the whole festival: Dub Phizix & Strategy (Broke ‘n’ English). They’re an act like no other: best mates from Manchester with a wicked sense of humour. This combined with their sick, heavy music production means you can’t attend a set and not have fun. Obviously Marka is played and their new release Buffalo and as the sun starts coming up at 05:45, I realised Outlook Festival did well again. See you next year Outlook Festival thanks for the great time.
Photos by : Ohana-Magazine