Snap backs? everywhere. Hawaiian shirts (coupled with short-shorts)? Everywhere. Gimmicky tattoos and hi-fade haircuts? Everywhere. That’s right, the hipster Brits have landed, to leave their Dalston footprint all over Croatia’s face.
Billed as the younger, sexier and cheaper kid sister of Outlook, Dimensions Festival was new on the scene this year, and it started with a vengeance. Situated in Croatia at Fort Punta Christo, Dimensions boasts the same beautiful setting as Outlook (minus a mainstage), and the line-up this year was formidable. Dimensions laid claim to anyone who’s anyone in the world of underground electronic music – from the best of deep house, to the hardest of techno with a healthy dosage of drum and bass and dubstep to help us along the way.
Thursday started with Portico Quartet, who was probably the only artist at the entire festival to suffer from the extremely high specification sound system. Their expertise at creating walls of sound with live instruments did not seem to resonate within the fort, which lends itself to electronic music so freely.
Another live act, who most definitely did embrace the electronic music set up, was Fatima. The darling of Detroit’s Eglo records produced a set so powerful and beautiful, even the most psychologically liberated members of the audience seemed touched by her vocal.
In the Courtyard, George Fitzgerald played a set with such grace and elegance; he could easily be a contender for Set Of The Festival. The London based producer seamlessly dropped exquisite tracks, toeing the line of house and garage. As he so easily does, Fitzgerald created a set shaded with both light and dark, feeling complete yet leaving us all yearning for more.
Imagine the scene: an abandoned moat, hundreds of revellers, and Blawan. That is how the first day of Dimensions ended. He played a set that didn’t hold back on techno. Set highlight was the macabre ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage’, which is every bit as hard and wonderful as it sounds.
As the Friday dawned upon us, the Croatian sunshine simply dissipating any remnants of a hangover, I experienced the other beautiful aspect of Dimensions Festival: a Boat Party. The particular one I sampled was curated by XLR8R, hosting a line-up of Koreless, Dark Sky, Machinedrum and Shawn Reynaldo. Koreless, performing a live set, started proceedings, taking the crowd into a euphoric blend of sea and sunshine. MTI perfectly accentuated everything the Croatian coastline had to offer and looking out into the idyllic bay, one would be hard pressed not to think they had actually ascended into dance music heaven. The unassuming, extremely friendly Scottish lad quite possibly played the set of the festival on the boat and seemed as happy as each and every dimension-goer there.
So as the boat party pulled into the harbour and the sun began to set, another night of beautiful music fell upon for Punta Christo. Eliphino played in the Ballroom, the smallest of the Dimensions stages, dropping so many grossly dirty and harsh hip hop tracks, the whole crowd was butt-shaking and slut-dropping, embracing the Hip Hop Honey that lives inside us all.
The Friday night took a suitably techno turn and once again I found myself in an abandoned moat, a chemical haze and a sea of blue lights – whilst my own kidneys were being bass-raped out of my body. And who was to blame? Only Pariah. Arthur Cayzer, the young techno prodigy, played a set that transcended both techno and deep house, proving just why he’s become the go-to-guy for collaborations (both Blawan and Midland have recently joined forces with him). Giving a nod to Blawan, he played the ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies…’ track, but then contrasted this darkness by acknowledging his garage-tinged roots. He took the crowd into the depths of their psyche, and then perfectly brought them on up to greet another beautiful Croatian sunrise.
Saturday hailed the final full day of music and it didn’t disappoint. The award for Best Set Even Though Your Name Is Annoying Award went to 2562/A Made Up Sound, who played an amalgamation of both 2562 tracks and AMUS tracks. Personal highlight was a great remix of ‘Lotus Flower’ by Radiohead, managing to be quite removed from the rest of the set, yet fitted in seamlessly.
However all seemed to pale into insignificance as the Hour of Parrish came closer. The formidable Detroit house hero played a three hour set that had so many formidable hip hop, soul and house tracks that not one second was wasted. You really felt like you were watching a master at work; Theo Parrish is truly the saviour of electronic music, and his mixing was flawless.
And who could be emphatic enough to follow this perfection? Moodyman. That voice! That bass-filled, chocolate fondant voice! Despite the constant chat between tracks, which did begin to feel a tad laborious and forced at times, Moodyman managed to fill Dimensions (and probably a good five mile radius) with love and warmth, bringing this festival utopia to a euphoric end.
Dimensions festival is truly a unique festival. One didn’t have to look far to find a Machinedrum, a Pangaea or even a suave looking Space Dimension Controller enjoying themselves, willing to talk to any admiring passer-by. The barriers between artist and punter seem to have been dashed by the sheer simplicity and beauty of the event.
But there was so much more! I could ramble for days about Machinedrum and how both of his sets were incredible; or how the entirety of Hessle Audio commanded an entire arena; or how Four Tet, Joy Orbison and Little Dragon proved just why they were deserving headliners; or even how much I danced to Floating Points. But there aren’t enough seconds in the day.
In case you haven’t realised already, Dimensions was perfect. There’s very little that I can flaw it on, and I’m usually pretty cynical. I suppose logistically, having to change all your money into tiddlywink tokens is rather inconvenient, but one is rewarded by finding these little doo-dads EVERYWHERE after a big set (they are quite easy to lose). And I suppose the fact that it’s a plane ride away is a little difficult – but hey, it’s a holiday! Stepping into it is like stepping into a weird semi-reality where the only things that matter are good music and hi-top trainers. Dimensions festival, I think I fancy you a little bit.