Not too long ago we reported that we were heading over to sunny Croatia for the fifth annual Outlook Festival. Well we were out there for a week and have just touched base back in the big smoke (that’s London for our international readers). We had such a great time that we thought it’s only right we report back and break down our highlights of the festival. If you have no idea what we’re on about hit up their website and see what you missed out on. If you were out there feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments at the bottom.
Firstly before we proceed we just want to say congratulations to the festival directors. The festival has exponentially grown in size due to its popularity since it started and they have on the whole managed to accommodate the larger attendance very well; festivals have been known to get too big.
Secondly thanks to the Brits that dragged the weather with them to Croatia! It had not rained in that part of the world for months and when we come along we brought the rain with us. Festivals wouldn’t be the same without some mud; the music and vibe more than made up for the lack of vitamin D.
For the last three years Outlook Festival has taken place in and around the grounds of Fort Punta Christo, a 19th century fort built by the Austrians. History lesson aside the venue is as amazing as it sounds with numerous arenas (11 to be exact) running from 8:00pm to 6:00am for the four days of the festival. Arenas include the Harbour Stage, The Dockside, The Fort, The Moat, Mungo’s, The Clearing and The Dungeon plus a few others and that’s not even including the two daytime systems on the beach. It’s pretty safe to say you are spoilt for choice as there is always someone you will want to see playing at all times, some tough choices had to be made in terms of choosing one act over another.
Our favourite by a country mile is The Moat, it’s difficult describe without just calling it ‘a moat’ . To accommodate the arena, the Outlook team have excavated it and have essentially been left with a long and narrow ditch. However add a mind blowing sound system with six stacks along the length of the moat, amazing visuals, some of the world’s best DJs and a crowd that have in travelled via air, land and sea to come to shake a limb… Well let’s just say it makes the Notting Hill Carnival look like afternoon tea with your grandparents. Outlook Festival organisers say they put the sound/acoustics before everything else and it really shows when you are raving with hundreds of other people in a really strangely shaped arena and yet you can still hear every high hat and snare in the song. The bass in this most unique of dance floors is incredible and skanking on it should beon the bucket list of every die-hard music fan. It’s very rare to get the same energy in front of the DJ booth as you do being the person closest to the exit but despite The Moat being almost 100-metres long it achieves this feat brilliantly. We have been to some festivals recently where the sound made us want to put in our earphones and listen to the music on our phones but you won’t get any of that at Outlook.
We made a point of making sure we visited all the arenas at some point and you can take our word that the sound systems were not below par anywhere. The Dockside and The Harbour stages are temporary erected stages directly next to the sea but the rest of the arenas in the fort area of the festival are incorporated into the architecture of the historical building. Ever felt like raving in a dungeon? No not us either but once you’ve had a little dance in The Dungeon at Fort Punta Christo you’re definitely going to appreciate its merits, it does get a bit hot in there but it is a dungeon after all.
Moving on to the music we did try to catch as much as we could but, as mentioned above, because there is so much going on at one time we undoubtedly missed some great music. Fat Freddy’s Drop were the festival headline act and they most certainly didn’t disappoint, how can you not love a guy playing trumpet on stage in his underwear? We met up with the Fat Freddy’s Drop boys just before they went on to The Harbour stage to see what they had in the pipeline; expect a new full length project from them early next year. Judging from the new material we saw/heard on stage it will be worth the wait.
One of the UKs most talented rappers Akala opened the festival on the Thursday night and proceeded to very quickly draw in a large crowd. His clear delivery of songs going all the way back to his ‘War’ mixtape really had the crowd going. After his performance of songs old and new we grabbed him for an in-depth interview asking everything from why he chose music over football to why he chose to be a vegan. The other notable performances of note were of course stateside legends The Beatnuts and Souls Of Mischief. Unfortunately due to medical reasons Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest was unable to make it which was a huge disappointment for all the hip hop fans.
Gentleman’s Dub Club were on The Harbour on the same night as Akala and Fat Freddy’s Drop; you will be hard pressed to find a group with more energy on stage than these boys. We had a great time watching them but it was exhausting as we couldn’t stop jumping up and down, if you get a chance to catch them play we suggest you grab it with both hands.
Friday night was an absolute washout with a torrential down pour, thunder and lightening. However that didn’t dampen our spirits in the slightest and in fact it added to the amazing atmosphere at The Dockside where Dismantle played arguably the best set of the whole festival. Rocking the crowd with everything from The Prodigy to UB40 with the backdrop of lightening adding to the visuals it really was the most memorable night of the whole festival.
Saturday night at The Harbour played host to what we at Rhyme On Beat were really looking forward to: the Beatnuts, Souls Of Mischief and Digital Mystikz (Mala, Coki & Loefah). As expected The Beatnuts and Souls Of Mischief did not disappoint, very few things trump seeing 90s hip hop legends still being able to rock a crowd like it’s 1999. Moving on to the DMZ set, if you know dubstep you will know that these boys are godfathers in the game and seeing them spin is a pleasure and a blessing especially when it’s the full trio. They each have solo projects that take up a lot of their time so it’s nice to hear classics like Anti-War Dub and Cay’s Crays (DMZ Remix) being played by the people that created them. In the case of Cay’s Crays if it was a few hours earlier it really would be a case of seeing “the rain come down while the sun is shining”.
The final night on Sunday was was all about The Harbour and The Clearing; the former hosted The Bug, Congo Natty and DJ Marky whereas the latter had the stellar line up of Bonobo, Mosca, Zed Bias and finally The Heatwave closing off the night. DJ Marky and his carnival dancers rocked the show for a full two-hour set accompanied by MC Stamina on the microphone. Ever heard salsa music layered over drum and bass? No? Well we suggest you find out where DJ Marky is next playing and promptly buy a ticket because it will have you grabbing the closest member of the opposite sex and dancing like you’re in Rio during carnival. Speaking of carnival, the Notting Hill Carnival is known for being Europe’s biggest street party that brings the Caribbean to the streets of west London. The Heatwave then proceeded to transport that vibe to The Clearing between 4am and 5am; if you weren’t there you really did miss out as these guys know how to party. Check this shaky footage of The Heatwave getting the crowd going to some soca music in the last couple of hours of the festival. If you like music from the Caribbean you can catch The Heatwave every Wednesday at The Social in central London.
One constant at Outlook Festival is the boat parties and this year was no different, well it was slightly different in that this year you had a staggering 48 boat parties to choose from including the (in)famous Booze Cruise hosted my Skream and Plastician. The boat parties cover every genre of music that features at the festival from the sounds of Loefah‘s Swamp81 to Caribbean sounds Hot Wuk to the drum and bass of Shogun Audio. Due to time constraints we only managed to get on the Sin City Recordings boat with the heavyweight line up of Skream, N-Type, Hatcha, Zed Bias; we were supposed to have Mighty Moe and Crazy D on microphone duties but for one reason or another they weren’t on the boat. Regardless we had an absolutely amazing time listening to songs old and new and dancing so much the captain of the boat wanted to send some people to the bottom deck to balance the boat; understandably a total of zero people proceeded to leave the top deck dance floor.
In all honesty the only downside we could find to this beautiful celebration of music was the weather and unfortunately that can not be helped, last year when we flew out to Fort Punta Christo we all came back several shades darker this year we got drenched. Considering the line-up, sound systems, unique arenas and the (usually) sunny Croatian coast buying a ticket for Outlook Festival 2012 is probably going to be one of the best decisions you’ve made all year. If you get in there early enough you can get direct flights fairly cheap or if you fancy the adventure of it you can face the Sunshine Bus from London/Manchester straight to the festival.
If you were there please share your best moments with us in the comments below and let us know if you are heading back for 2013.