Continuing on from my Croatia #1 blog post (and My ears like to hear series)…here’s talk of Soundwave 2014, a music festival in Tisno, Croatia, that I’ve wanted to go to for years (thank you manaXi for making it happen). The festival took place a little outside of Tisno on a campsite and beach called Garden Tisno, about 15 minutes walk from our apartment in Tisno. Tisno, Tisno, Tisno. manaXi and I arrived in Tisno late on Thursday 17 July after a day in Zadar. The festival actually started that day but we missed it, getting involved in full force on the Friday. We were glad we got an apartment rather than camp on site (I’d got insider info from the Letherette boys as they’d played last year)…as it was damn hot that weekend, and as you’ll discover, unpredictable and stormy. It’s going to be difficult to keep this blog post to a minimum as manaXi and I saw, heard and engaged with so much music and musicians over the 4 days of the festival. I’ll try to be succinct, keeping it just about Soundwave and not the in between adventure life (that’s the next blog post)…let’s start with Friday. And so it begins…
Friday, early afternoon, started with Somersby cider en route, kicking back by the beach stage until the 4.30pm Reggae Boat Party with Origin One and Gentleman’s Dub Club. We had no clue what to expect but it ended up being something special, a private party where everyone was there for the same reason, feeding manaXi’s reggae love (he runs a soundsystem out of Northampton called High Grade Rockers). Origin One are simply lyrical niceness with an old skool traditional reggae punch behind it with varied bitey staccato male to soulful smooth female vocals that drive through – hysterical boat shouts of “Oh my gosh!” and “Call Kev a Chav”. I’ve been in touch with them since and they gave manaXi a copy of their latest EP. We played it throughout our time in Croatia and I think it might have become a bit of a soundtrack. The Dub Smugglers (who’d given us tickets) changed their set time which we had no clue about until 1am…when we found they’d done a 9pm-1am set in the Olive Grove tent/Pier Stage whilst we were elsewhere watching Gentleman’s Dub Club, so we completely missed them. Gentleman’s Dub Club, well, hands up I (shoulder) skanked my sox off (until manaXi could carry me no more) to you boys. You really kicked off Soundwave getting the crowd fired up for more, more, more. Non-stop jumping and getting low, low, low. Unbelievable showmanship that triggered crowd love and a little pit action that might have got a touch messy-aggressive. manaXi jumped in with a little crowd control as we saw teenage girls with the fear during “If the truth be told I’m a sucker for the High Grade”. Love that track.
Saturday evening was fuelled by The Mouse Outfit who I’d never seen before. Another brass band-boy band with a hip-hop edge that were infectious. Then there was the one the only Riot Jazz who I’ve seen many times, always support and I will never ever stop giving my dancing all to…they did a couple of insane covers including Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ that took the crowd to the next level…alongside the renowned Sousamaphone, obviously. “Sexy sexy sexy…INCOMING”. Ha, ha, ha. I heard a hint of Gold Panda afterwards but got caught up in the most intense tent (Olive Grove/Pier Stage) driven by Mr Thing and DJ Bobafatt. I reckon this was the session that everyone (well those who went to it) will remember…all the people manaXi and I spoke to loved it, and loved the love going on. Hip-hop intensity with jolts of soul, funk and cuts of quietness like with Al Green’s so in love with you. The only thing that was a little frustrating was that they finished on ‘Happy’ by Pharrell (about 1 hour 5 minutes into the mix below). That song is done with me unless terrorised in a remix by DJ Bobafatt. Seriously. I heard quite a few people say that too and it made me laugh. I like Pharrell though and N.E.R.D., and all the work he does through his Charity ‘I am Other’. DJ Bobafatt has produced a great ‘Soundrave 2014’ mix here on Mixcloud that brings it ALLLLLLLLLLLL back. From Busta to Beyonce, Wu-Tang to Stevie…and so much more. I love(d) every second. Soundwave loved every second.
Sunday was a late starter with the soulful vocals and sampling of female solo artist Tawiah. Lyrical intimate emotion that started the night off perfectly at one point bringing me to tears with her track . She’s one to watch I reckon in the coming year. Next was Shigeto who consumes me aurally. I was completely and utterly lost in his solo 120% engagement with his electronic and physical rhythmic creation. I think he’s more sound art sometimes than music as such. There’s a fine line though lately with so much sound creation. I’ve written about him before through my blog…talking of ‘what my dreams would sound like…definitely my cloud dreams. Shigeto‘s – Zach Saginaw’s – electronic and live instrumental sampled wonderment builds with excitement and awe. The percussion driving through. “Shigeto” is his grandfather’s name meaning “to grow bigger”, and his sounds do…in so many ways’…and did that evening. Another one to watch this year. Can’t wait to see him live again. Huey Morgan’s set followed. His set was pretty standard Huey, taking us back to teenage years of musical niceness, and it made manaXi and I smile when one teenage girl we spoke to referred to him as a posh wedding DJ before she then got distracted by disco music and ran off. No darling. It’s a generational thing…we grew up with this music in our lives. Run off to disco town. It was sweet to see Huey so in love with his wife Rebecca who was there stage side. manaXi and I didn’t stay for long and decided to go for late night drinks in Tisno unintentionally entering into late-night mega life chatter.
The final day, that most festival goers we saw were trying to push their way through – “come on boys just one more push” – Monday, started with RAIN, rain, rain and a very cloudy sky. manaXi and I wanted to go to Krka National Park but that wasn’t going to happen. It was such a humid struggle of a day fuelled by a trillion macchiato veliki’s and naps, and the air was filled with tension, great tension of the last evening ahead. Uncertainty that would make it something special. We had no clue what to expect after rainfall, or what the festival site would be like…all part of the fun right? manaXi cleverly thought a poncho purchase might be good…and he wasn’t wrong. We sneaked in cans of cider and pivo, as much as we could, to fuel our evening with Riot Jazz again followed by Mr Thing and Essa. Riot Jazz were again unstoppable (great to finally meet Steve the drummer), where the crowd were next level. Sam from the band gave the audience, the front row that I was part of, a taste of the Croatian digestif drink Pelinkovac that I never need to drink again…EVER. A Croatian Jagermeister. Nuff said. Thanks though Riot Jazz. They did another cover, this time of A-ha’s ‘Take on Me’, a ropey, bass heavy clip of which is below. So much fun. Essa only just made it to the festival with his partner and 7-week old baby after missing his flight from London. Again an honest lyricist like Tawiah who spoke, clearly, truthfully and honestly about the hear and now. Truth, message, lyricism, sound.
Fat Freddy’s Drop were supposed to be the finale, but as manaXi and I sat by the cocktail bar overlooking the sea, we felt one spot of rain, then another spot of rain…then, in less than a second the heaven’s opened with one of the heaviest rainfalls and mega storms I’ve seen in a while. It was beautiful, real and seeped into my soul. I love storms, the non-stop thunder and lightning, like synapses in your brain having an angry conversation, raw energy that can’t be contained or controlled. It gets insides me and fuels me, consumes me much like music. Rain in hot places is always nice. Ponchos on (we could have made a fortune that night) we darted from under the straw umbrellas to the Olive Grove tent/Pier Stage that was starting to cave under the pressure of the water. manaXi jumped in with the Soundwave security to hold marquee poles up…then we ran for it, well actually walked home, no running at all, whilst the rain fell creating rivers and streams covering our feet with water…not realising that Riot Jazz were doing an impromptu gig in the Garden Tisno restaurant (see their video on the Facebook page, it’s so good!). It looked insanely funtimes in there! Dammit! The walk back was pretty special though, really something else to just stop and take it all in…and the blanket balcony times afterwards was too, spent watching the sky like a TV show, one of the best TV shows that money can’t buy.
One thing I couldn’t get over was the fact that it was never felt crazy busy at the festival. It was still small-scale (only 2500 people-ish) and that’s what made it for me. You saw the same people and faces day-to-day, a sense of festival community that at any UK festival you’d not get the chance as they’re the size of small towns now. You maintained a sense of space, place, of Soundwave, of Tisno…of the unexpected beauty of Croatia, which was essential to the music experience. That’s what made it too. From sunsets to sunrises, Tisno your beach parties and boat parties, “Oh my gosh” to “call Kev a chav”, reggae roots dub grind, Paul-Kev-Idris and friend-K head-Hungary boys-Carrie-Sasha-Mirna, high fives and knuckle punches, “can I take a selfie?”, bites and rashes, waterproof ponchos, pivo pivo and um more pivo, dirty vests to sweaty men’s chests, the gun show, 5 bikini’s, Adidas tropical shorts, honey box, LADS, frontin’, getting low low low, INCOMING, Sousamaphone x 2, Riot Jazz sexy sexy sexy, “It’s like we’re in the future, today”, Somersby cider by the can, cuba libre time, (shoulder) skanking my sox off, sun naps…this was the sound of summer from Soundwave Croatia, Riot Jazz (thanks for the pelinkovac), Origin One, The Mouse Outfit, Gentleman’s Dub Club, SHIGETO, Tawiah, Dub Smugglers, DJ BobaFatt, Mr Thing, Huey Morgan, Gold Panda, Essa and more, finishing on the most heart-stopping thunder and lightning storm before the final set that stopped the festival and filled the sky with a light show like no other for hours…on…end…THANK YOU. No one is going to forget that night. Do you remember the Soundwave storm of 2014? Yep. I was there. Maybe I’ll be there in 2015…Seasplash in Croatia looks pretty good too…