Impact headed to the Continent to take a look at some of this year’s summer festivals.
EXIT Festival – Serbia, 8-11th July
This year boasted a spectacular line up including the likes of Chemical Brothers, Placebo, LCD Soundsystem, Faith No More and Missy Elliot. Fans of Misdemeanour may have been disappointed with her 15 minute set in which she passed the musical baton to her DJ, leaving herself plenty of time for a few tracksuit changes. However LCD Soundsystem held their crowd like puppets, blasting out hit after hit with pure pitch perfection. The Dance Arena – accessed only by a teetering mass of scaffold – was not for the faint-hearted. But as the sun came up on the last night accompanied by a back to back treat from Busy P, SebastiAn and A-Trak, the whole fort shook with euphoric energy. After spending days recuperating along the beachy shores of the Danube, EXIT was truly difficult to leave.
Monegros Desert Festval – Spain, 17th July
This 20 hour long festival is not one of which many of us have heard. And there is good reason, ‘Spain´s Largest Rave’ is on the fringe of dance festivals and few English festival goers would need to venture this far to find electronic music. But its lack of diversity is where Monegros fails to compete. The line up was filled with hardly any recognisable names and a few wholly unimpressive headliners – Pendulum and Laurent Garnier, to name but a few. Music wise, Monegros features only house and techno although more specifically Latin House; think La Mezcla by Michel Cleis. Busta Rhymes made an appearance briefly in the same way Kanye West did at Global Gathering a few years ago- to bring in a more commercial crowd, and in the same way his act was out of place. As the night progressed Latin House turned into Speed House and whilst many had passed out within giant tepees, still thousands remained awake. If you like your house and techno, Monegros is certainly worth a visit…especially for only 70 Euros!
Melt! Festival – Germany, 16–18th July
Time to forget about English festivals, ‘ze Germans’ not only smash us on the football field but also in the world of festivals. Located 2 hours outside Berlin, it’s a painless commute to the campsite where gazebos, tents and BBQs are in full flow by the Thursday evening. The campsite is pretty standard in terms of facilities, but there is also a huge lake surrounding the festival where you can spend your days recovering. At the festival site you’re greeted by huge illuminated cranes and old mining machines hosting roof top bars and the 5 main arenas. Music starts at sunset on the Friday and finishes at sunrise on the Monday; Melt! has a huge range of artists playing but for us the highlights were the likes of Massive Attack, Booka Shade, Simian Mobile Disco, Yeasayer and Moderat who played a spine chilling set (Youtube ‘A New Error’ if you’re curious). For those who don’t want to go home there is a sleepless tent, which as suggests, never stops. Crowd wise, Melt! comprises mainly Germans and luckily there’s no GCSE kids on their summer holidays (think Reading and Leeds). In short this is a seriously good festival with consistently excellent line ups, a unique atmosphere and non-stop sunshine. The likes of EXIT and Benicassim had better watch out. That said, the only water available at the festival site was sparkling…sort it out!
Sam Knight & Nicholas McClintock
The Garden Festival – Croatia, 2-4th & 9-11th July
Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Croatian coastline, The Garden Festival ran over two weekends: the 2nd – 4th July and 9th – 11th. I attended the latter, but double whammy tickets were available – and very affordable – for the more dedicated festival goers. This low-key festival played host to a string of both under-the-radar and big-name DJs and acts; the four hour set courtesy of Mr. Scruff, who played everything from reggae to dubstep, was undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend. Aside from the main stage, the infamous drink-fuelled boat parties set sail twice a day with hours of DJ sets, cheap beer and, for one poor scrap on the lower deck, an afternoon of ‘chundering’ overboard. Perhaps the only drawback to such a small scale event was that the main stage was the only stage, so if you didn’t fancy what it had to offer then…other amusements had to be found. These usually appeared in the form of face painting and an unashamedly cheesy 70s nightclub. The weather was perfect, the setting idyllic and the atmosphere electric –an intimacy existed between the crowd and artists that you don’t tend to experience so much at the larger festivals. For any music lovers, The Garden Festival is Croatia’s best kept secret.
Sziget Festival – Hungary, 11-16th August
Sziget, set on the leafy “Old-Buda Island” on the River Danube, offers – unlike many of its counterpart festivals – a whole host of musical genres. From jazz to world music, hip hop to electro, Sziget caters for pretty much all musical tastes and it is this diversity that brings all sorts of Europeans together. What with Hungarians, English, French, Germans and (hardly forgetting) the Irish all camped up on one island, the atmosphere is crazy but nevertheless friendly –possibly helped by the fact that alcohol is dirt cheap. Being in central Europe in August does make for blistering temperatures and the trees on “Old Buda” only offer so much respite after an all nighter. In terms of music, Boys Noize played a storming set, as to be expected from a man of his talents, and Madness kicked up an absolute ska-filled treat. Annoyingly, The Cribs cut their set short, but this disappointment only lasted for a short while as it meant that we could all go to the Party Arena to get a prime viewing position for Calvin Harris. The only real drawback about Sziget is the number of beggars milling around; being hassled isn’t something one expects from a festival and the lack of policing is something that the organisers should look into. That aside, Sziget, with all its mix of people and music is amazing and definitely worth a cheeky summer trip.