We were leaving a less than sunny UK behind us on the Sunday morning we made the journey from West Sussex to Split. Actually, to be totally honest, "less than sunny," doesn't really cover it, does it? What we were flying away from was increasingly resembling a terrible royal rumble featuring a variety of political clans, two generations, three classes, Richard Branson and James Dyson. As we huffed down an avocado roll in the departure lounge, neither the THUMP team nor the rest of the airport's general population seemed full of summer cheer.
In light of these times we are faced with two options. Either we commune at politically-minded festivals who are tackling the turmoil head on, allowing us to face these issues and process our collective response. Or we have a few beers int the sun get on it.
We are pleased to announce that THUMP, and everybody at Hideout 2016 opted for the latter.
If you've not made the trip to Novalja before, it's worth noting that Hideout takes place in a string of clubs that nuzzle against the shoreline on Zrce beach, on the island of Pag. Plane-loads of party-goers are stationed in the main part of the small fishing town, before being shuttled up to the cluster of beachside nightclubs for five days and nights of Adriatic action. Before we'd even landed, it was clear that the crowd were planning on giving every ounce of pent up partying they'd saved up throughout the rest of the year. A shower, three large beers and a gooey holiday pizza later and we were ready to join them.
One of Hideout's strongest features is the way it positions itself somewhere between a clubbing experience, a festival, and a straight up, traditional summer holiday, The site's five clubs are all roofless, and large enough to feel like festival stages. There's also no trudging five miles across a site the size of Lincolnshire to get from one DJ to another. And of course, being in Croatia in the middle of summer has other plus-points. The only time you'll feel close to cold is if you spend too long in the freezer aisle of the nearest supermarket deciding between a Magnus and a Solero. It's clear the team behind the festival have taken a look at everything else that's on offer, and over the course of their six year history, honed a unique experience in a peerless location.
As for the music, we were spoilt for choice. During the options ranged from Craig David's ever impressive TS5 show, a frenzy-filled set from DJ Haus and the delight that was seeing Artwork going back to back with the Black Madonna unannounced. Sauntering around from stage to stage, between session in the sea and suncream stops, the festival's daytime has an leisurely kind of pace, everybody testing the waters before the sun dips behind the majestic mountain range that watches over the punters like a loving shepherd attending to his lagered-up flock, and the nighttime swings around again.
And as for those nights, you can tell just how much fun everyone was having judging by the expressions on their faces as they dragged themselves onto the shuttle back back into town at half six in the morning. It's a very certain kind of expression, nigh-on-impossible to pin down but also instantly recognizable. It's a mix of elation and fatigue, a kind of well earned, well deserved tiredness. Occasionally punctuated by a mass sing along of "Will Grigg's On Fire". Night after night, the DJs, the crowd, the hum of the festival itself, brought their A-game.
Our week started with heavy hitting sets from our new mates Mak and Pasteman, along with Hideout regular Oliver $ stepping up to do his thing. Then by Tuesday we were going heads down with Midland, who provided a steady slew of seamless rollers, and the Bicep boys who came through with a set thick with glistening new material. That same night, the whole site seemed to shuffle into Papaya to join Skepta in shutting down Zrce, and even as we left that Logan Sama was continuing to flood the shore with basically every grime tune you've ever loved. By Wednesday it was time for the big guns, and a non-stop set from eight hours in the presence of J.E.S.u.S (Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Seth Troxler und Skream). As you'd expect, the lads didn't let up for a second, and we're proud to say that we barely missed a beat. By the end of the week, now fully sun-burnt and done in, it was over to the likes of Julio Bashmore, John Talabot, and finally Jamie XX to see the festival out.
If there's one thing linking every act on the bill, acts as seemingly disparate as Stormzy is from Joy Orbison, it's the spirit of the crowd they are playing to. Across the week we regularly commented on how hard pushed you'd be to find a bunch of people more committed to partying. It's one thing finding a beautiful beach to throw a festival on, it's another getting a killer lineup together to play there—but it's another task, and one that rarely comes together so well, bringing that sort of energy together.
Bring on next year.