Outlook Festival 2013 Review

Over the years Outlook Festival has flourished, and talk of Fort Punta Christos wonders have been enthusiastically spread through the fragmented yet utterly compelling memoirs of previous Outlookers. I’ve listened on in envy to tales of festival debauchery in a beachside fortress setting quite like no other.

My knowledge of Outlook’s affiliation with the dubstep movement is a prospect that slightly unnerved me, I’ve heard tales of an exceedingly young crowd, and having recently attended Nass (big mistake) and having left feeling like I needed to dye my non-existent grey hair and start a knitting class, this was a slight concern. Of course one look at the line up and for anybody obsessed with music of Jamaican roots and sound-system influenced origin, you can’t top it.

Arriving at our destination, first impressions were pleasant; tickets were a relatively quick procedure, lots of shady plots, a stunning coastline and multiple shops and restaurants (even a 24 hour pump shop – this man is god), the only down point being a hilly landscape that means for late arrivals the battle is finding a tent spot on which you’re not vertically challenged. It was a brief introduction to our new home and we headed straight for Pula’s amphitheatre, the host of Outlook Festivals first opening ceremony. With a line-up as prodigious as the venue, Grandmaster Flash on a non-stop vibe assault journeying through hip-hop classics consequently enforced the buoyant shuffling of a 5000 strong crowd. Engrossed in the surroundings, reflecting on societies fascination with the ancient entertainment of Roman Amphitheatres, gave a sense of the influence of the present, of course the brutality of BC gladiator battles is in stark contrast to the hypnotic sway and spaced out completeness The Original Wailers were evoking, but the magnitude of the architecture combined with the incomparable performance of the artist gave a true sense of Outlooks pioneering influence on culture.

At this point, before the festival has progressively taken more and more of your soul with its diet of minimal sleep and constant intoxication, the campsite beach party was in full swing with that fervent energy prevalent in abundance only at the commencement of a festival (for the majority, I did discover a lady already taken by the festival spirits, head between legs, hanging from the toilet, with a crowd of onlookers throwing water over the cubicle and pulling her hair). On closer inspection, our fellow festival goers proved prior misconceptions of a snap back army of under 18’s wrong! The crowd, for the large part British, was a healthy mix of age groups from various subcultural corners of our homeland, with a noticeable number of bucket hats, air max’s and drum and bass representing t-shirts (Lady in the Netsky tour t-shirt, really??), it was a well balanced mix and the atmosphere was one of neighbourly unity, the kind of group love found only at festivals.

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THURSDAY

My tent was a saggy mess, a shapeless, deflated premonition of how my body would feel toward the end of the festival, and the ceiling spent the evening caressing my face like an overbearing, needy boyfriend, proof a good old Tesco pop-up can be far more efficient than those in ‘professional’ camping shops. Day 1 and after an inspection of the premises, two areas deserve a special tribute; firstly the beach as it really is exquisite (but pebbly, so going in is a lumbering wade or an awkward, bikini-loosing danger crawl), and secondly the showers for their ability to phenomenally transform a mass of comatose, decrepit ravers into perky beings, reunited with their forlorn souls under a godsend of cleansing water.

An afternoon in Pula later and anticipatory excitement, calmed by a consistent flow of rum meant the beginning of our voyage of mischievous festival exploits had begun. We found ourselves in The Clearing, host to Joey Bada$$, member of the Pro Era collective, and an independent artist that has been generating hype worldwide. The prominence of headliner’s recognisable on a global scale, seamlessly portrays Outlook’s ability to balance a line-up of underground artists and genres with historical influence and contemporary popularity, this is done in a way that remains entirely authentic, something of a feat that unquestionably differentiates the whole aura of the event.

As drum and bass enthusiasts, our port of call was The Moat for Dispatch Recordings. The Moat is breath taking, soaring walls follow a stretch of narrow, confined dance floor. The dancefloor was brimming with a foreboding pint spillage of ravers and the sets of Sabre btb Halogenix and DLR and Cern btb Ant TC1, made this tide of inebriated heads skank to such brutal tunes a tsunami of resolute moves and concrete gurns trembled the ancient confines. At this point I’d like to highlight we discovered press passes can get you backstage, very naughty, for any of you in or around The Moat at this time, the pirouetting shadows, hijackers of the projections, may have been something to do with us.

Mungo’s Arena was an extraordinary affair, enclosed by ancient, towering walls, both crowd and structure oscillated in unison. The sets of Exit Records’ finest: Amit, Skeptical and DBridge to name a few were an all out beat offensive, an assault of gully rhythms in a setting that doesn’t require hallucinogenics to render you considerably but contentedly bewildered as to how this is even possible.

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FRIDAY

Friday morning I acquired some valuable wisdom; firstly, if your sleeping in a tent facing the main pathway, and you somehow manage to loose your front door, try not to fall asleep naked in it (This guy)… Secondly, courtesy of a chat with Artful Dodger, I learnt that badgers are ferocious creatures; one of the guys narrowly avoided an unfortunate incident, as a result of having been chased by one. Regrettably, I didn’t make it down to see Artful Dodger but am aware of word around the campsite, fortunately, no livid badgers; beers were flying, the beach was baking, and Artful Dodger masterfully blended a set of old school garage classics.

I spent the afternoon on the Symmetry boat, the boat parties are of course one of Outlook’s principal talking points, I can’t emphasise enough how illusory it is to be on a boat in the Adriatic, with a view of the magnificent Croatian coastline listening to the beats of drum and bass’ finest. A friend asked “do you ever stop and think, I can’t believe how good my life is”, the answer is yes, the boat party drew out of me a true sense of un drug induced ecstasy, DLR tore the place up as did Xtrah and Mikal. Break and Die took to the decks and the atmosphere was unlike anything, unleashing Calibre’s ‘Drop it Down’, the combination of drum and bass and resounding festival harmony was too much for me, I’m not married and I don’t have kids, I’m putting this down as my greatest moment in life!

On high spirits and slightly tipsy I crawled into my hovel of a tent, the ceiling so low by this point and the street-light rendering it transparent, I probably could have changed less shamelessly under a towel mid dance floor. The evening activities, beginning to end Metalheadz, were held in The Clearing. One of the largest arenas, sets by the likes of Lenzman, Goldie and Randall wholly went off. This stage was all about feeling, the past the present and the future of drum and bass, each set stayed true to the refined sounds of Metalheadz, funk breaks and 808’s transported you back to the 90’s, cutting edge vibes hurling you into the future. At the risk of sounding like a massive groupie, I have to admit that one of my festival pinnacles was a chat with Goldie it was emotional!

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SATURDAY

Nursing an intense hangover and alternating from the perpetual tempo of 170, we went for a cruise aboard the Swamp 81 boat. The Swamp family including Loefah, Micky Pearce, Boddika, Klose One and Chunky donned the decks for a journey of optimum garage, hiphop, bassline and dubstep. The crowds dedication to the musical cause was best portrayed via a fully suited banana man, fully immersed in the positive vibes, and powering alongside us in a speed boat, his enthusiastic banana dance a reminder of the surreal nature of this experience.

Submotion Orchestra were incontestably a festival climax, bringing jazz-influenced, electronic ambiances, the soulful, highly reverbed vocals took you on a journey far from reality.  Continuing this illusory journey, our recurrent drunken meanders as a result of a fair few clashes resulted in a considerable amount of explicit In-Reach stickering; I took advantage of a horrifically messy mans nipple, and a member of the crew declaring that ‘sex sells’ roamed the festival with a sticker atop bare batty. One such escapade led us to Bredren, manning the decks in an ancient dungeon, with the crowd confined to narrow vaults like a horde of trapped beasts, the mass of the room evoked a kind of restrained energy, serious movements aptly contorted to the hard-hitting, heavyweight beats. 21 years of Ram at the harbour was a stage of standard Ram sets, commercial beats were conjured, and the crowd were frantic for it. Aside from Skeptical btb Ant TC1 who replaced Wilkinson and delivered a damaging set of filthy steppers, I have to be honest the Ram sound wasn’t for me, after regrettably attending Nass an event in which the Ram party were out in full force, I feel I have been slightly damaged by the label as a result of having to endlessly endure Mr Happy.

SUNDAY

By this point even seasoned festival goers will be feeling like utter waste, I’m in my 20’s now, no longer a resilient 17 year old able to stay awake for the entirety of a week long festival on a cocktail of booze and party drugs, it goes without saying, Sunday hurt… I spent the day sprawled across the beach with the energy of a McDonalds overeater on the final flight of a stair case, my lifeline, a combination of gently rolling beach beats, and the waffle shops smoothies- believe me, they can pull you from even the darkest depths of your perishing, hung-over self.

Broke n £nglish a grime collective of drum and bass’ finest northerners ft Skittles, pulled onlookers from their alcohol-massacre induced dejection straight into enhanced spirits with a notable set list including a track dedicated to 2012s infamous blue haired girl, Croatian bush weed, and a freestyle in which the crowd shouted topics, and the result was an impressive rap encompassing areas from turnips to Maggie thatcher. Possibly my favourite evening for music, we spent our time at the harbour. The music of Gentleman’s Dub Club was in perfect harmony with the setting, they danced in a manner my family like to call ‘stomping’, far more aesthetically than my father who likes to re-live his subcultural heritage and ska dance in a variety of not entirely appropriate public places. Bukem’s set, all liquid funk and soulful drum and bass, took things to the next level, this is a set we all agree on as a favourite, a legend within the genre his ability to bring pure musicality aroused feelings of amiable togetherness within the crowd. Holding off the post festival blues for a final hour, Alix Perez and Icicle rounded things up perfectly, sending the crowd into gleeful tumult, their outstanding set empowered even the almost fallen outlook soldiers to battle through and enjoy the last hour of what had been a week of outright rapture.

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To conclude… 

The close of the festival and Dimensions posters replaced those of Outlook, the campsite became an odd mixture of fleeing and pained Outlookers and vibrant Dimensions arrivals.Outlook festival is a reminder of music’s power through shared passion to create unity, but more than that the organisers of this festival have mastered the creative and organisational aspects  in such a manner the experience transcends far beyond comprehensible expectation, they’ve created an experience of absolute euphoria, it was one of the greatest weeks of my life and an experience I will undoubtedly reminisce on forever. I will absolutely be returning for Outlook 2014 and I would positively recommend that others do the same.

I’d like to leave you with a closing tip, should you decide to go to Outlook, when planning flights consider carefully travelling after the festival, you will most likely have spent all of your money and will end up in the same predicament as us… Ok, so Venice is beautiful, it’s worth visiting and doesn’t smell that bad, but having spent the penultimate night trekking down the side of a pitch black motor way, ending up in a pathless, overgrown field with aggressive ducks and then testing the mental parameters of my mind as a result of 28 hours in Treviso airport, I would certainly say beware!

Out to MQ from Broken Culture too – held firm like family bro! BC review here.

And a final shout out to Liv Genesis 😉 for tag teaming the photos duties!

Fairwell Outlook 2013! We’ll be seeing you next year 🙂

Checkout the rest of our adventure below or over on our Flickr here
Full writeup by L 😉 @leslieoconnor1


Photo Edits by Dan Hainesy – Top Photo credit to: Marc Sethi

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