As part of the booming Croatian festival industry, Dimensions Festival has quickly become a landmark among Europe's electronic music lovers despite its relatively new appearance on the scene. From its stellar line-up to its friendly atmosphere and stunning location, the festival offers the most complete experience for a hard-to-please crowd.
Held August 28 to September 1 at Fort Punta Christo, Pula, on the Adriatic coast in the northern part of Croatia, the festival's eight stages are distributed throughout one of the regions numerous stone forts. Dimensions' opening concert takes place in an astonishing 2,000-year-old amphitheatre, where German pianist Nils Frahm kicked off this year's fest with his dreamy tone poems in front of a captivated audience before Caribou appeared on stage to perform dressed in all white. The Canadian producer, who has a new (already leaked) album coming out this fall, mostly played a collection of his notable hits ("Sun," "Jamelia") alongside some of his new stuff, including the summery "Can't Do Without You."
The highlight of the night was undoubtedly Darkside's performance, one of the final appearances before an indefinite hiatus, as group members Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington announced earlier this summer. In comparison to other Darkside concerts this year, the show they offered in Pula was without doubt one of their best ever. After a year of intense touring across the globe, the duo has perfected their show for sure, but what made this set so special was the scenery and the environment: idyllic weather and the fantastical arches of the amphitheatre's surrounding the crowd alongside the music. It was hard to not think of Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii; taking into account that Jaar and Harrington's project was inspired by Pink Floyd album's The Dark Side Of The Moon. "Darkside" is even the code Jaar uses on stage to tell his guitarist to play some riffs à la Pink Floyd.
Live acts weren't limited to opening night, as each evening of Dimensions showcased a handful bands. Among them, the intimate set delivered by Andrew Ashong as well as the legendary Roy Ayers singing "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" along with the crowd won't be forgotten. Other winning moments included Lawrence dropping Claro Intelecto's "Peace Of Mind," Caribou's Daniel Victor Snaith's Daphni alias calling to the rave on "Ne-Noya" and on the top of everything, Moodymann infusing sexual tension on the dancefloor by playing Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap 2."
If nights were intense, days at Dimensions offered a variety of attractions, from boat parties to public Q&As with artists at the Knowledge Area. Still, the primary (and best) passtime consisted of chilling with new friends on the sunny beaches or jumping in the transparent water of the Adriatic Sea, one of the cleanest in Europe. Compared to last year, the beach parties were source of small disappointment as they mostly sounded like a permanent sound check or at best like a warm up.
Another source of frustration came from the sky. Due to severe weather conditions, the final night was truncated, with three stages shut down for safety reasons. In spite of the rains, an impromptu B2B set from Floating Points and MCDE brought back smiles in the Fort.
What makes Dimensions special beyond its stunning location and strong programming could be summed up in one word: commitment. You can see it in the crowd of music connoisseurs who know their classics and react to (almost) every track played. You can feel it from the organizers, who pay attention to every detail, including a quality sound system. Attendance plays also a great part of the festival experience: with approximately 7000 festivalgoers, the site never feels saturated, which means (among other things) you don't have to wait at the bar too long. This relatively small audience is a paradox for true fans: Dimensions is so good you have to share it with the world, even if you'd like to keep this little eden for yourself.
Follow Antoine on Twitter: @AdePointZero
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