Featured Review: Outlook 2016
I was awash with mystery and excitement on my way to the airport. Outlook festival, being both mine, and inSYNC’s first overseas festival, painted a picture that although similar, was in some ways polar opposite to its well-treaded English counterparts. The dream of swapping wellies for flip-flops, muddy tents for AC apartments, and same-old big tops for roman stadiums created huge expectations – and boy, did it deliver!
When on the plane journey itself, I took a moment to look around and get an idea for the sort of crowd I’m going to be sharing the weekend with, the budget airline unsurprisingly dominated by festival goers. From my limited observations and eavesdropping, I came to the conclusion that I was amongst a mostly young, British, and slightly rowdy crowd, who were certainly here to party. Special mention to the hilarious Scottish lad who made no attempt at hiding the fact that he “has already noshed a coupl’a swedges”. At this point the whole experience feels a little too much like an Ibiza-style lads holiday.
Upon arrival at Pula, I got the impression that it was a usually quiet, cultured town that was only temporarily overrun by festival goers – the sort of location that a Thompson Gold tour might stop at for a few days of quaint sailing and relaxation. I wondered about how the locals themselves felt about how the festival, and its impact on the community. I had an opportunity to ask one themselves, when my airbnb host kindly offered to grab me from the airport. Her conclusion was that the locals generally welcome it with open arms, meaning that the organisers have clearly put some thought and effort into its impact on the area and working together with the local people for a sustainable future.
The first night meant the famous opening party in the roman amphitheatre. Despite arriving at peak time, we managed to enter with barely any queue. The setting really lived up to its name, jamming to Damian Marley inside a structure thought to be around 2000 years old was really something else, and proved to be the perfect warm-up to the weekend. Support from Slum Village, Iration Steppas, and ASM followed similar musical tones and kept the Dub, Reggae, and Hip-Hop flowing all night. Waking up slightly worse for wear the next morning, reality faced us; we still had a whole festival ahead of us. The only remedy, it seemed, was to head down to the beach for a daytime welcome.
Arriving at the festival site we yet again walked straight in with next to no wait. Rumours of unsavoury security were quickly dismissed – we encountered a tight but polite team that was the same as any English festival. The festival site appeared smaller than I had imagined (this wasn’t a bad thing at all), in fact I tend to favour smaller sites after one too many hour-long treks from campsite to arena.
The beach stage was perfect for a next-day revival. Vibes remained calm, and as the day went on ravers slowly became more upright, moving from sunbathing, to swimming, to finally grooving again, to the sounds of Hiatus Kaiyote and Guts. A new addition to the festival this year was a huge inflatable ‘Total Wipeout’-style course. Whilst we felt too fragile to have a go, it was easy to see smiling faces bouncing and splashing in the distance from the comfort of our warm rocks and Croatian beer.
The arrival of the evening meant time to check out some of the other stages Outlook had to offer. We mainly stuck to The Void, as we couldn’t resist the killer line up hosted by Just Jam. DJ Barely Legal was the first act that we saw, providing a bass heavy set that rang true of the musical style of the festival. DJ Q then took things up a level with a heavily bassline orientated set, a highlight of which was him dropping his famous track “Rocky”. Zed Bias closed the stage for the evening, his garage set complimented by the on point sound system.
We started off our Friday night at The Clearing. First impressions were a spacious stage with a loud enough sound system, but unfortunately the visuals on the LED panels didn’t strike me as up to par with the rest of the festival’s production. Kano was the first act that we saw on the stage, who delivered a solid set. ‘P’s and Q’s’ was a highlight of this, which saw us singing the catchy vocal line for the next week. Nosia then set the scene for the arrival of drum and bass legend Andy C, both playing a range of heavy drum and bass that definitely pleased the crowd.
Saturday night, drum and bass was yet again on the agenda. We also headed to the stage that everyone had been talking about. The Moat was exactly how it sounds – the dusty side of the castle ruins, home to our favourite sound system of the festival. The placement of the speakers and the natural acoustic of the thin passageway meant that despite how far back you were, you still experienced the same sound. DJ Hype brought an absolute roadblock to the stage, so much so that many people couldn’t even get into the stage at all. We didn’t face any difficulties from this, as we were tactical about when we entered and exited the stage, but I could see how that could be a bit of a night ruiner. When the constant fast paced drum and bass got a bit much, we left in search of other stages with a different type of music. We searched and we searched, and while this was good as we got to check out some more of the smaller stages like Noah’s Ballroom, we literally couldn’t find anywhere on site that wasn’t playing drum and bass. It’s a known fact that support acts on the nights tend to move towards the headlines of that night’s musical style, but it seemed a bit silly that we couldn’t find anything below 150bpm anywhere.
By the final night we really were broken. It was at this point I remembered how “Outlook is a marathon, not a sprint”. We managed to get ourselves in the zone for one final send off to end a great weekend. When we arrived on site our first point of call was The Stables, and we loved what we heard. Dubstep. And I’m not talking about Skrillex either. Old school classics, that reminded me of Caspa and Rusko echoed around the stage, and a sense of nostalgia and euphoria overcame me. This is what Outlook is all about. The Moat then hosted Benga, one of the biggest names in the Dubstep scene, who provided much of the same great vibes.
Just as his set was finished, a downpour erupted onto the site that brought an abrupt end to the weekend. Many tried to don waterproof ponchos to squeeze out the last few hours of the festival, but the majority had realised that it was all over and it was time to leave the site for the last time. What came next was a soggy walk home with a side order of sadness, knowing that it would be a whole year until the next time I’d set foot there again. Until next time, Outlook.
Site Setup 9.0
Festival Communication 7.0
Attention to Detail 8.0
Creative Content 7.0
Value for Money 9.0