Outlook has spent the last 6 years thoroughly proving that it is the best place on Earth to experience a wide variety of electronic music and with more festivals popping up each year, they have had to excel to new heights to maintain their status as the Mecca of bass music festivals. This year they surpassed all expectations and provided what can only be described as a near utopian musical experience. With a wide variety of genres covered in a thorough manner, it seemed impossible that outlook could bring together so many different vibes and styles into one place and still make each one feel as special as the others. The resulting experience was more than anyone could be prepared for and is going to be nearly impossible to explain in words but we thought we would give it a shot.
Wednesday Night – Amphitheatre
Music at Fort Punta Christo now lasts for what feels like weeks, with Dub Smugglers setting up on the beach and playing music until well gone 3am from the weekend before the festival. The party never ends and it’s impossible to tell when it starts, however, this year the organizers attempted something both adventurous and epic to launch the festivities; a one off show at Pula’s impressive Amphitheatre in the town centre.
Featuring J Rocc, Grandmaster Flash, Earl Gateshead and the remaining members of the legendary ‘Wailers’, who performed with Bob Marley, this line up was a star studded musical experience that although landing outside of the electronic scale, entertained to no end. J Rocc started with a journey through old school hip hop and then Grandmaster Flash stepped up. It would be wrong not to start off my explanation of his set with anything other than intense admiration for the way in which this man can simultaneously work the decks and crowd. The video my friend filmed below is an example of the way in which he hypes the crowd to an unbelievable level and plays such an intense variety of popular and classic music. Reaching for Eminem, Dre, Snoop, Lauren Hill and more artists and songs than it would have been possible to remember. It was a musical experience I am glad I saw and one to never be forgotten.
After that it was time for the main event and the atmosphere and pure excitement felt in that amphitheatre surpassed most events I have ever attended. Anyone who was there will have felt it to; the overwhelming sense we were seeing a truly classic performance by a selection of artists who haven’t been on stage together in a number of years. Despite a few lighting problems, the set was a spotless musical masterpiece and was appreciated by everyone within the beautiful venues walls.
Either side of the headlining acts was the one and only Earl Gateshead, I hadn’t put a specific mention for the Trojan Sound System head selector and that was a sever short sight on my part. He’s a pioneer of the original reggae sounds Outlook is so thoroughly involved in and held the amphitheatre in nothing but the best spirits either side of the other acts. In his own words he ‘loves and Supports everything that’s happening’ with outlook, so I look forward to seeing him out in Croatia next year no doubt!
Again another non-electronic event was the High Focus Records Boat Party so I shall keep my explanation very brief; pure unadulterated vibes. People were bouncing from the front to the back and every single tune had people screaming the words and stamping their feet. Hip hop at its absolute finest and a label that everyone should have their eyes on.
As soon as I saw the line-up for Outside the Fort on Thursday night I knew there was little chance of me leaving this particular arena at all and I was completely correct. Outstanding 140 sets from everyone across the board from both ‘Osiris’ and ‘Blackbox’ and it would be impossible to explain every set in detail so here are the highlights.
Due to illness or otherwise (I have only heard rumours), Jack Sparrow was unable to perform at Outlook this year which meant a full live Author show could not happen. Instead, we were treated to Ruckspin and Submotion Orchestra’s trumpeter, who provided an equally magical live production experience. They opened with the live interpretation of ‘After Time’, an Author song that has the ability to silence a crowd in pure awe; something it managed with ease on this occasion too.
Anyone travelling to outlook for dubstep had probably seen the picture Killawatt posted with his list of dubplates. The next special moment was Kryptic Minds reaching for ‘Static Tension VIP’, a song I was only expecting to hear once over the evening but an early showing was not unappreciated. As soon as I heard the morphed synths I knew we were in for a real treat.
The rest of Kyrptic Minds set was magnificent it was the usual fast paced adventure through dark and dangerous dubstep and techno; blurring the lines between genres to provide one of the most mesmerising musical experiences around.
Following Kryptic was Youngsta, a man who has secured himself safely on top of the DJ pile and is legendary for his ability to provide fast paced technical mixing in the most perfect way. His set was a highlight of the festival but for no particular reason other than his tune selection and mixing abilities set him above other DJs of similar styles. Highlight of the set was him going from Joker – ‘Headtop’ into a new Proxima tune, wheeling that then double dropping it with Midnight Request Line in what is one of the most technically perfect harmonic mixes I have heard to date. Musical mastery!
Some of the names I had been looking forward to most at the festival fell at the same times on this night and I believe evil powers were at play when Mala vs Goth Trad and Deleted Scenes landed at the same time. Sometimes these things cannot be avoided though and I opted to see Pinch and Distance’s legendary minimal partnership over the Deep Medi label boss.
This was one of my best decisions of the festival, with Deleted Scenes providing an exciting hour and a half journey through the music they have been working on over the last 5 years that few ears have ever managed to hear. Distance was playing the live drums for a while in what was easily the most musical diverse experience I have had in his presence. His usual DMZ mash ups and angry synths were nowhere to be heard in this set, with the focus on extremely weighty minimal bass lines and explorative dubstep styles that have been lost in time. Highlights from the set include hearing both ‘Memory Loss’ and it’s VIP, two tunes which have not lost any excellence in their years of existence, a play of ‘Insides Hurt’ and some creative techno pieces that I had not expected from Distance.
Before this ground breaking performance the rest of the Tectonic heads played a diverse and exciting collection of sets, including a performance by ‘Beneath’ which shattered the Moat. Pinch’s label never disappoints; no matter which genre it is focussed on.
I ended my Friday at Mungo’s arena to see Truth play to about ¼ of the capacity of the venue. This however, was a completely inaccurate representation of the set they played and to say they ‘killed it’ is a complete understatement. The eagerly anticipated remix of ‘Walter White’ was one of my individual highlights of the festival; the trademark wavering bass lines of Truth smashing through Seven’s drum kits was a piece of audio artwork and everyone (left) in the arena was going absolutely mental for it. A few new pieces from themselves, the 2013 remix of ‘Fatman’ and Coki & Benga classic ‘Night’ brought together what was one of the best dubsteps I have seen in a long time and provided a seriously high energy experience for a 4.30-6am set.
Only a quick but fully necessary mention of the Swamp 81 boat party; few labels boast a constantly happy extrovert vibe like Swamp can maintain. The party had started before we even got on the boat and spirits are always high when Loefah and his crew are on board. This was the only set by Mickey Pearce I heard all festival and his expansion into American hip hop creates a really interesting bass driven experience. Across the pond they heavily use 808’s and other classic drums in their tunes and he’s brought that across into the classic UK bass style to create some incredible pieces of music.
If you went to Outlook to experience some 140, then it would be a great surprise if you spent anything but your entire evening glued to the clearing stage for the DMZ takeover. Due to my friends messing around, we didn’t get there until Distance’s last tune, which turned out to be his remix of Mala’s ‘Changes’. He rarely plays this out and hearing it as we arrived set the theme for the entire evening and got the vibes flowing at full capacity.
Next up was someone I’d been excited to see since I saw he was on the line up; American based Joe Nice is definitely the cross Atlantic connection when it comes to dubstep and his radio show has been an staple in the community for many years. With big connections to DMZ and other minimal producers, his set lists always feature a mixture of old and new tunes to have the crowd on their toes. He actually played ‘DMZ vs MZN’, a song I truly never thought I was going to hear and it’s magically relaxing tones washed across the now well excited crowd. Kahn followed with an equally energetic set; Flowdan spitting the bars to ‘Skeng’ over the quite frankly obscene grime remix of ‘Joker – Tron’ that Kahn has been rinsing recently was a highlight of the entire festival the crowd literally exploded.
With excitement at critical level and the clearing now reaching maximum capacity it was time for the night’s main event. I’ve seen DMZ vs Loefah countless times, easily into double figures and I can confidently say this was hands down the best set they have done as a trio. Two and a half hours of only the best selections and some long forgotten classics. Loefah played ‘Spooky – Spartan’, continuing his theme of the festival of reaching back in time to make his sets the best he could. Mala did the mix of the century; rewinding ‘Kromestar – Mere Sha’ and playing the DMZ remix of ‘Cay’s Cray’ at the perfect moment to use the breakdown of ‘Mere Sha’ to support the echoing vocals from Fat Freddy’s Drop.
There didn’t seem to be a moment where they lost energy either, from start to finish people were moving and excited. The songs that needed to brought back were too, with Joe Nice leaping into action to rewind ‘Coki – On Board’ before the first bar had even finished! The MC thought there was a technical it was so fast. By the end of the set the stage was packed with MCs, DJs and friends of DMZ which only further added to the party atmosphere they managed to initiate. They seemed to be having as much fun as we were and it was a magical two and a half hours of dubstep.
I had never seen Hackman and when an opportunity presented itself to see him play through Mungo’s rig I couldn’t miss it. It was everything I hoped for and more; a bass heavy, garage driven set and he even finished on the classic ‘Close’. Perfect!
Next I went over to the Swamp 81 take over outside the fort and timed it perfectly to see the whole of Boddika’s set. He’s someone who’s rooted himself very firmly in the house and primarily the techno scene with his relentless back catalogue of both melodic and pounding music. He played some really interesting techno pieces, some more trippier than others but that is what makes a Boddika set so unique; without a deeper knowledge of underground techno you won’t know many songs. He did however draw for some very interesting tunes, particularly the new remix of ‘Sicko Cell’ and a slowed down refix of ‘Footcrab’.
From here, I ventured into a BPM I hadn’t experienced much of so far at Outlook and descended into the moat to enjoy some 170 destruction from the Critical Audio gang. I caught the end of Phace and the beginning of Emperor b2b Mefjus. All three of these guys have been making insane movements in the drum and bass scene, producing some truly insane pieces of music designed to shatter chests and keep feet constantly moving. The build ups were long and epic, crackling down into deep sub rumbles with fast paced drum patterns. The only tune I properly recognized was the Noisia classic ‘Block Control’. Nevertheless, this was a very enjoyable change to my staple diet of beats in Croatia.
Finally closing the evening and the main arena of the festival were Stoke locals Sub Faction, with Anwha, Smokes and Mentok going b2b2b in a northern beats mash-up. The mixing and tune selection was both varied and technical and the room was rammed front to back with sweaty Stokies going mental to their friends from home playing in a Dungeon in Croatia. It was actually a magical hour of music and there was one of the bes t vibing rooms of the entire festival. It was like Sub Faction had just been placed in its most beautiful location to date. The music was a good mixture of grime and dubstep, bringing some classics to the table and also keeping it new.
The organizers of Outlook seemed truly dedicated to never-ending music this year, with further boat parties being offered on the Monday night; my choice being the Staunch party. Although slightly echoing the Swamp party from Saturday, I knew another oportunity to see a great mixture of techno and house on a boat should not be missed. Loefah and Zed Bias opened up the fun playing a smooth mixture of garage and tech house. Loefah played the classic Wookie / Exemen remix of Sia- ‘Little Man’, which got one of the biggest reactions of any song I saw all festival.
Next up was Boddika again, playing a similar set to the previous evening but this didn’t faze the crowd one bit, everyone on the boat was excited to have another night of fun added on and every tune went down a treat. Following him was Paleman, who provided a darker techno angle with classics like ‘Boiler’ getting the crowd really going.
Finally was the mixing master Klose One; someone who, for me, really defines how mixing should be done. His ability to double drop tunes to create almost completely new rhytms is outstanding; it’s often hard to tell how many or what tunes are even playing. He always turns heads when he’s behind the decks and the last night of Outlook was no different! This was the best way to end the festival imaginabe and I hope they stick to this extended line up next year.
It would be entirely impossibly to choose an actual highlight of Outlook this year, as every part of it was musically perfect. From 110 all the way up to 170 BPM, every need and taste is catered for at this Croatian bass playground and it’s delivered in a professional and exuberant manner. The stages are spectacular and this year there was a real emphasis on audio and the rigs were loud and weighty across the board. If you are a fan of bass music, of almost any degree, you really should make the trip to Croatia next year and experience what happens out there, because you need to see it to believe it.
Written By Michael Thomas
Photographs by Holly Johnson https://www.facebook.com/HollyJohnsonPhotography?ref=ts&fref=ts