Celebrating their landmark fifth birthday, Hideout Festival returned to Zrće Beach (pronounced zer-che), on the island of Pag last week. It proved to be their ‘biggest party to date’ with over 150 artists, six venues and a record number of boat parties setting sail.
The long-awaited week turned out to be what it said on the tin: five days of hedonistic antics. The beach set-up is a curious one for a festival – venues rather than stages – but as the clubs are massive and open-air it definitely has a festival vibe rather than a clubbing feel. The beach itself is pebbled, not sandy, but has a vast, moon-like panoramic quality that makes it unique.
For many reasons (logistics, intoxication, word count, blah blah blah) I’m unable to provide a comprehensive report of the festival –I’m not superman – however, here were my favourite moments…
Doorly and Oliver Dollar
The set that really caught my attention was Martin Doorly and Oliver Dollar who were playing out the end of Papaya with a three hour bouncy, happy set. The crowd had thinned-out but those who were left were going for it. Dropping chilled tunes such as ‘Want You in My Soul’ by Lovebirds (feat. Stee Downes), Laura Jones’ ‘Love in Me (Maceo Plex Remix)’, and a remix of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’. They provided perfect vibes until dawn.
20:20 Vision Boat Party
Boat parties in Croatia are like school discos; everyone stands in the peripheral at the beginning, milling around in their groups and not mixing. I assume this is partly due to the fact it’s fucking early, you’re still hanging from the night before and the existence of a bizarre licensing regulation which prevents music being played for the first 15 minutes of the boat jetting off to sea.
Nevertheless, you can be assured that if you’ve got a bang on DJ everyone will be going for it in no time. Ralph Lawson was that DJ on the 20:20 Vision boat party. He got the party in full swing instantly with his famed array of upfront, no-nonsense house with a cutting electro funk edge. Tunes like 2up & Johnson’s ‘Sonidero (Original Mix)’ and Cherry Mind’s ‘The Circuit of Love’ were just the ticket.
After Ralph Lawson were We Love Space residents Bonar Bradberry & Tom Thorpe a.k.a. PBR Streetgang. They really stepped up to the plate laying on perfectly selected bangers such as Cassius’ ‘Feeling for You (Les Rythmes Digitales Remix)’, Julio Bashmore’s ‘Ribble To Amazon’ and the Live Garage Mix of garage anthem ‘Gabriel’ by Roy Davis Jr. For a Tuesday afternoon sailing on the Adriatic it was great fun.
For the more underground minded of those at the festival, 20:20 seemed to make a bit of a splash with front man Ralph Lawson smashing it again late daytime at Kalypso. Kimen’s ‘Ajanta Caves (Original Mix)’ and ‘A Shot in The Dark (Taylor ‘Trapped in ‘92’ Remix)’ by Steve Bug were both memorable drops.
We were lucky to be in the right club when DJ EZ was playing the Tuesday night out at Kalypso because there must have been as many people in the queue outside as there was inside – it was mental. Rammed to maximum capacity the dance floor was reaching riotous proportions as a result of the garage aficionado’s eclectic set.
His stage presence, furious chopping and slicing, and on-point mixing confirmed him as a solid repeat booking to bring in the crowds. Genres were thrown out of the window as he switched from grime, to hip-hop, to funky house and back to his signature garage anthems.
It was easily the biggest gathering of the week and we were proper getting on it to the sounds of Crystal Water’s ‘Gypsy Girl’ and ‘Running (Disclosure Remix)’. But the nostalgic number ‘You’ve Got the Love’ and the heavy grime sounds of DJ Q feat. MC Bonez’s ‘You Wot’ earned EZ a raucous reception. The most engaged I saw the crowd all week.
Edible Boat Party
Surprisingly not many people were lagging on the final day, most had realised they were committed to lasting until the bitter end. This was most evident at the Edible boat party which saw house supremo Eats Everything and Jasper James arrive last minute via speedboat for their 2.5 hour set which was absolutely slamming from beginning to end.
As day turned to night the full capacity crowd got down as they were taken through a journey of old classics such as Bent’s ‘Magic Love’, jumping party tunes such as Sandy B’s ‘Make The World Go Round’ and a touch of funk with Sister Sledge’s ‘Thinking of You (Dimitri From Paris Remix)’.
Nothing beats the deep and original sounds from one of the pioneers. Kerri Chandler got us nicely warmed up on Thursday night in Kalypso with a three hour set that captivated the rammed arena and set the tone for the night ahead. By dropping the likes of Frankie Knuckles’ classic ‘Your Love’, his own epic slammer ‘Bar A Thym’ and the jazzy number ‘Fox Tooth’ by Atjazz, he sent the atmosphere into one of frivolous excess. This was a testament to Chandler’s ability to deliver on every set which explains his lengthy career.
Seth Troxler’s set, the penultimate of the festival, failed to capture my attention. Overall, the range and depth of the DJs’ creative talent was outstanding but I suppose you’d expect that with no ‘live’ acts in the traditional sense of the word.
As the sun came up on the Friday morning, dying the horizon a fiery red, the final set duties were fulfilled by one of the most globally revered names in the scene today: Eats Everything. With his larger-than-life character and incredible ability to manipulate a crowd, bringing them up and down with ease, Eats was the obvious shout for the final hurrah of Hideout’s birthday celebration. He went from solid, uncompromising tech-house such as Cajmere’s ‘Percolator’ through to electro-techno builders such as Anthony Rother’s ‘Cinema’ which left the crowd literally begging for more. Before you realised it, the last tune – the anthem that is Dominica’s ‘Gotta Let You Go (Bicep Edit)’ – had been played and it was all over, as quickly as it had begun.
The production, stunning location and tunes at this festival cannot be denied – hats off to the people responsible for the organisation and delivery of the event. For these reasons it isn’t hard to appreciate how Hideout has become the pioneering electronic haven that sells out in record time each year.
The week featured a dazzling array of graphic design talent in the way of a number of live VJs performing throughout, though I didn’t see any art installations or creatively designed and structured stages like other Croatian festivals I have been to. I can’t lie it wasn’t the best crowd at times too, with a noticeable percentage looking like they would fit into the San Antonio circuit quite well. But having said that, Hideout has everything you’d need for a messy clubbing holiday that won’t break the bank, so if that’s what you want it’s well worth checking out. And that’s not mentioning that the chances of great weather vastly increase at this time of the year.
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