Foreign frequencies: my first festival abroad



Are British festivals a thing of the past? Online Editor Georgia Marsh gives us her take on what a European festival has to offer.

I prefer holidays of experiences much more than a week away to a hotel resort somewhere sunny but stale. For my friend’s 21st, we were enticed by Outlook Festival in Croatia because of the stellar line-up which boasted the finest names in Jungle, DnB and Grime (among the myriad of genres flexing their muscle) and the pre-conceived idea that it’d be cheap, as well as the thrill of a very first trip to a festival overseas.

Murlo playing the Butterz boat party

The music couldn’t have blown us away more. UK mainstream hip-hop from young rappers like Loyle Carner and AJ Tracey went head-to-head with cult international talents, particularly female MCs Lady Chann and Princess Nokia. If the bright light shows and thumping bass got too much, iconic sound-system Mungo’s Hi Fi curated their very own stage fit for low-key, reggae-inflected electronica. On the other side of the sonic spectrum, the likes of Kenny Ken and Benny Page made for an explosive closing show at The Garden – possibly the best stage on the festival site; open, spacious, immersive, and dazzling.

However, lures towards the promise of cheapness eventually proved false. Perhaps we were naïve to assume a festival in Croatia meant Croatian prices, and although the festival tickets themselves were slightly cheaper than your standard weekend ticket at, say, Bestival, food and drink were still enormously expensive – or, at least, we were handing over a lot more cash than expected. Added to this were the costs of flights, airport transfer and accommodation, culminating in a small fortune.

While we expected (and packed for) sun, sea and water-resistant sound-systems, we were instead met with thunderous gales and torrential downpour

Taxis clearly sought to take advantage of the thousands of tourists who pilgrimage to Outlook every year, some demanding 200HRK (around £25) for a 10-minute drive. Yet bartering (and arguing) with the drivers turned out to be one of the most memorable aspects of the trip; some sharing their stories with us, others threatening to throw us in the bin.

Another broken promise turned out to be the Croatian climate. While we expected (and packed for) sun, sea and water-resistant sound-systems, we were instead met with thunderous gales and torrential downpour. These electrical storms meant the first night was called off early; the festival site transformed into a muddy landslide, leaving us dripping from head to toe.

However, it definitely wasn’t all doom and gloom. The site itself was intricately and expertly planned, with stages nestled inside and around an ancient fort, amplifying the atmosphere. At first, the idea of queuing to access some of these stages seemed preposterous, but it actually meant festival-goers had more intimate access to their favourite music (although we queued for almost an hour in the pouring rain to see The Void’s tribute to Marcus Intalex before the festival was shut down for the night). The site was also fitted out with its own private beach alongside crystal clear waters (which, luckily, could be used when the sun was shining).

Braving the rain

Unlike the large majority of UK festivals like Boomtown or Reading, the music is loud, as it’s supposed to be, and continues well into the night, not stopping until daylight breaks. Throughout the day there are a series of beach and boat parties – the nautical raves hosted by leading record labels being among the highlights of the festival. The weather gods truly blessed our party, as the hot sun shone down on us as we danced to the talents from Butterz, including Royal T, DJ Q and Murlo – one of whom even threw in an extremely topical remix of hot new Fire in the Booth meme ‘the ting goes skrrrrra’.

...better line-ups, cooler locations, louder sound-systems and all-round wilder parties

Although I return to Bristol almost as pale as when I left, and despite our expectations for blissful weather playing us like a fiddle, Outlook really shows how ahead European events are in the festival game – better line-ups, cooler locations, louder sound-systems and all-round wilder parties.

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Georgia Marsh

Online Editor of Epigram 2017/18, Online Music Editor of Epigram 2016/17. Big fan of a lot of things, especially Frank Ocean.