Dimensions and Outlook are important for Croatia. You can hear the opening concert from the ruins on the other side of Pula, and brief chats with the locals show how much the events are doing for communities around. This is important – this is a British festival abroad, a tough feat to pull off, yet the team and the attendees make it an event that blends well with the local culture.
Our introduction to Dimensions was two days before the festival. We got to the beach after 24 hours of travelling through Europe, our bags still on. The fraction of the site that was open was a dreamy affair – full of lovely people and suitable music blasting until 4 AM. It was a brilliant intro that left us feeling that we’d be perfectly content if this were the actual festival. We welcomed the morning after in Fažana, a small town near Pula, that had all we could wish for – a place to shelter from the sun, a supermarket, and a cheap food place. Although missing all the extracurricular partying going on on the campsite, we were fucking thrilled to see all of our belongings dry every morning.
The day after the opening concert, the rest of the site, situated in a beautiful abandoned fort, has opened. Each stage featuring a different sound system, each stage sounding beyond excellent – venues at Dimensions didn’t clash, most of them covered by walls from both sides. We did stumble upon a few odd Outlook-only places, including a massive stage by the sea that wasn’t open for Dimensions, which made it seem like an odd opening to a larger party next week. The icky police situation felt just like being back in Poland, with undercover police giving huge fines to anyone found with drugs, then putting them back in their pockets. Consistent enforcement of rules that do not work and do not make sense is what Eastern Europe does best, and there sadly is no change in sight. We met a drug dealer when hitchhiking to the festival on one of the days, who seemed to be loving the opportunity to do business to crowds less conservative than the local Croatians.
Now, music. The first night saw Hyperdub steal the show with their showcase. After a soothing set from Jessy Lanza, Laurel Halo went on stage to play mesmerising anti-dance music in her excellent live show. Kode 9 was equally great, though in an opposite way, playing hits that made Hyperdub the label that it is today. Afterwards, Marcel Dettmann was exactly what we wanted it to be – took a while to get into, got louder as it got to the end, and closed with a ridiculous edit of Never Grow Old as the sun went up.
We started day two with Greg Beato, who, brilliantly as ever, played tunes The Moat was designed for. We moved to The Clearing for Jon Hopkins, a stage that had a large projector in the back. Adding a visual element to live music is tough, and I’m not sure if it should have been there at all – repeatedly showing the name of the performer and playing videos, including that one; one of the least suitable images for Jon’s music.
Another highlight was Moodymann, who played a set that fit our mood perfectly, featuring the exceptional Seven Davis Jr’s “One”. Near the end, Kenny Dixon Jr, turned down the music and started a dialogue with the crowd, preaching how he’s our bartender tonight, and justifying his genre-free selection with “I cannot fuck my girlfriend in the same position”.
One of the few times we got up early was for the Eglo boat party. There is something about taking a few hundred musically like-minded people and locking them on a boat together. The session resembled Plastic People with the lights on, with sun-soaked crowds and DJs smiling throughout. Alongside Hyperdub, Eglo was the best crew at Dimensions – appearing at multiple stages, Alexander Nut and the team always managed to get an amazing party going.
The last night was, well, something else. What started with pre-drinking with a couple of Croatians, one of them proudly shouting how he brought his rain coat and us not believing it’s gonna rain, ended rather brutally. It was sometime during Underground Paris that the rain hit, forcing everybody to run for cover and all the stages to shut. We were fairly fucked but it all seemed pretty serious, with thunders louder than any of the bass. A few of the stages came back on later, including The Void, which had Floating Points going back to back with Motor City Drum Ensemble all the way till 6 am. A match made in heaven, that – the drunk, exhausted, and soaked bodies all around us kept going till the end, dancing to exceptional music played by exceptional people.