I had already been to Croatia last summer as I finished off my eurotrip for 2009 with Soundwave festival in July. But as I stepped off the plane in Split, Croatia in September, at the same airport i'd boarded a plane to London at less than two months before.
It actually felt like home and I could not be more excited. I think some places you just fall in love with; it happened to me the first time I came to Manchester and it definitely happened in Croatia.
Split is an amazing city and the perfect location to catch ferries out to islands, which costs about a tenner return. Bargain. So we landed in Split on the 2nd September with absolutely no idea how to get to the Island of Pag, to reach our Outlook Festival destination.
All we knew was that it was pretty damn far and that you could drive rather than taking a boat because of a bridge over the sea leading to it. After waiting with about ten other festival go-ers off our plane for a bus to the nearest city, it began to get dark and no buses were coming.
Luckily, a nice man in a huge cushy looking van rolled up and offered to take us the whole way to Pag for 15 quid each, so all we clubbed together off the plane and were on our way to Outlook for some crazy beach dub step fun.
It's fair to say we might not have made it to the festival in time without this lovely random croatian man, who let us play Skream's 'watch the ride' full blast on the journey through the Croatian mountains; definitely a sick start to the weekend.
When we finally arrived at our destination about three hours later, it was pitch black and we realised that the camp site was a good mile walk from the main road, which was another mile to the festival venue. This was definitely a down side to the festival as it made going back and forth extremely long and tiring in the heat.
Nevertheless, we kept our spirits up, deciding to camp together, going on a mission to find some good grass to pitch our tents on. Oh wait a minute….no grass? pure rocks, my friend. To be honest sleeping on rocks wasn't as bad as i thought it would be (being absolutely smashed when finally falling to sleep helped with this), it just made pitching a tent pretty difficult, but also quite hilarious as the wind kept blowing people's tents away. Aside from that, the campsite was perfect, loads of nice people, a cheap shop for beer and essentials, nice showers, toilets and a reasonably cheap restaurant.
One of the things I loved about Outlook festival was the difference between day time festival chillin' and hardcore night time. The venue was unbelievable, middle-of-nowhere paradise. When you walked into the venue you were greeted by the 'pool party' area, which consisted of a swimming pool fitted with two poles slap bang in the centre, surrounded by massive speakers so you never missed a tune when going to the bar.
Just to your left was a massive beautiful Croatian beach and view of Croatian mountains. Perfectly clear water, although, compared to when I was there in July when the water temperature was perfect, the water was pretty cold to swim in.
Up the stairs and on your left was the best chilled area; a massive wooden deck covered with beanbags and tables, the best place to chat shit and roll up in-between skanks…..or sleep, I saw a lot of people asleep there.
To the right of this deck was the 'night club' which was a massive glass cased room, with a raised DJ booth which you could climb up on and loads of tables and chairs to skank on too. Out the back was the live stage, a massive pit with balconies to get up on and bars surrounding. Drinks were pretty damn cheap and there was a shop and pizza place open in the venue all day and night , which definitely saved us.
The first night was good but i got too drunk too quickly after watching Mungo's hi-fi and Iration Steppas kill it with their back to back DJ sets in the night club and I didn't make it to watch Headhunter at 4.
However, day two blew my mind. The sick thing about Outlook was that a lot of people played two sets, so if you missed someone or you had a clash, you could catch them the next day. Day two saw Sukh Knight dropping Ganja dub VIP followed by Stenchman, who opened with next hype and sent the crowd mental. I've possibly never seen a DJ go as mental as Stench behind the decks, he was basically climbing the walls.
The atmosphere in the night club was one i can't even explain, the best night out; great tunes and the crowd was really up for it. The soundsystem was the best i've ever, ever heard. The club was always packed out with absolutely everyone going crazy. Sexy girls in bikinis and topless sweaty boys raving on every possible table or chair. The crowd was full of people there for the music and no one caused any shit like at some raves.
Next was N-type, hilarious as always, holding two vinyl in the air and jumping up and down. N-type was playing again the next day, so we ran off to the live stage to watch Gentleman's dub club play one of the best sets i've heard in my life.
If you've watched the Outlook video, you'll have seen a clip with the entire crowd jumping up and down to some crazy trumpets, that was Gentleman's dub club and it was unbelievable. Another highlight was Submotion orchestra who played a chilled set outside whilst the sun was setting.
Day 3 was hardcore, with acts such as Quest, Hatcha and Cluekid playing from 6pm, so we got ready for a late one. Highlights of the night were Iration Steppas live at the outside stage who we had a nice blaze to, listening to them playing the most beautiful up beat dub.
We got to hear the first ever performance of 'general' live, which is an absolute tune. This was followed by Mala and St Pokes. Mala reloaded spongebob 3 times, what a legend, as well as dropping Distance's remix of Changes, which had the entire crowd singing the chorus in an epic wave.
Sunday now and we couldn't stop talking about how good the day before was, we thought it couldn't be topped. We spent most of the day chilling on the campsite before making it to D-Bridge and Instra:mental at 5pm. Then outside for some hip-hop with Manchester's very own Broke'n'English warming everyone up and then the mighty Zion Train.
This was followed by a mental night of Joker, who debuted 'Tron' and it got reloaded about 70 times then rinsed by every DJ for the rest of the weekend. Joker was followed by Plastician, Silkie, Spectrasoul and Alix Perez. Phew.
Another one of the best things about Outlook was that the DJs were all there on holiday too, so they all wander around all night getting drunk just like the ravers. At one point i remember having a dance and realising i had Mala and Kromestar in front of me, Sukh knight to my right and Stenchman to my left.
I also spotted all of these lot having a laugh with a table full of massive cocktails later on. I also experienced Joker nearly running me over on a scooter before asking me if i'd seen Kutz anywhere, which was interjected by N-type shouting 'You're gonna bloody kill yourself before your set boy!'
Overall, if you can't tell from my enthusiasm, Outlook festival was one of the best weekends of my life. Croatia is one of the most beautiful places in the world and the vibe was mind blowing. I've vowed when i return this year not to be 'that' person, who stands around complaining that 'this is just like, nowhere near as good as last year, this festival's changed', etc etc, but the crowd and scene has changed a lot over the last year, so I am slightly sceptical of how good it's going to be.
Also it has relocated this year to the island of Pula, taking place instead in an abandoned fort, which does look amazing and resembles Exit festival in Serbia, which is a whole other crazy experience The camp site this year is a five minute walk from the venue,
so they've solved that problem and hey, don't worry if you have to sleep on rocks, it's worth it.