It’s very hard to review any festival, especially one that runs over the course of week, for 24 hours a day and, aside from the site itself, encompasses numerous boat parties and a stand-alone, world beating nightclub. Finding a common experience is a tough call . We had friends who attended every night at Barbarellas Discotheque and others opted for a more sedate pace of life, hitting the beaches in the day and easing into the festival as the sun dipped into the sea. The vibe of Love International is coherently upbeat. Set in a relatively sleepy fishing village, the site itself is rustic and pretty, the locals seem to have adapted to the foreign revellers mingling among them and the weather was glorious, notwithstanding a couple of pretty dramatic thunderstorms. Everyone ate a lot of squid.
This was Love International’s fourth year in Tisno and once again Test Pressing came along too. We hosted the sunrise sessions which ran between Thursday and Monday from 6am through to noon. Some people drifted in from Barbarellas and some for a fresh start to their day. Many returning favourites joined us in the hut – Lexx, Begin (more on whom later), the all-star dub version session and Peter Leung. Some of the festivals bigger names took the opportunity to play a more expansive set in the super-chilled surroundings, so Orpheu the Wizard took us far out and Powder explored the more eclectic reaches of her USBs. All to an appreciative and blissed out crowd spread across the hammocks, decking and rocks just spitting distance from the azure water of the Adriatic.
So what else went down music wise…
Young Marco was in festival mode at Barberalla’s on the first night and looked like a man who knew the drill, knew what the crowd wanted and knew exactly how to give it to them. Bandana firmly in place he built it up with firm favourites like the Compass Joint and brought it home with a couple of well-timed classics like the evergreen ‘Passion’ by Gat Decor. Coupled with a peppering of the oddities upon which he earned his stripes like a bugged out version of the KLF (was that the Echo and the Bunnymen remix?)…
Andrew Weatherall executed a masterclass in incrementally increasing the intensity at the Beach Bar on Sunday night with an exponentially increasing crowd. It was glorious to see kids not that far beyond their teenage years losing their collective shit to his set.
The Beautiful Swimmers held down one of the longer and later slots of the festival between 6am and 10am in the Olive Grove. The pair played a blinder to a sizeable crowd as ever treading the line between the obscure (a 20 minute live tape only go-go jam) to the cheekily familiar (Todd Terry’s mix of Everything But The Girls ‘Missing’) with panache. Blaze’s ‘Lovelee Dae’ as the sun pounded down sounded just about as apt as it ever has.
Ben UFO went for the jugular but illustrated the adroit ability to change lanes with jaw-dropping technical nouse that has become a trademark. He set the scene for the inevitable Gou-mania that was brewing. Peggy herself was loads of fun and for a massive headliner walked the tightrope between superstar DJ drama and credible bangers with ease – ‘Nervous Acid’ in particular sending the crowd into overdrive.
Meanwhile on the beach bar Optimo’s fear of being left playing to the sea urchins whilst the crowd swarmed Gou-wards was proved unfounded as the pair tore into festival classics like ‘RIP Groove’ with unabashed glee.
Vladimir Ivkovic & Ivan Smagghe’s b2b set was set against an apocalyptic downpour that perfectly matched the druggy, claustrophobic sounds rolling out of the crystal clear Pioneer sound system. The tension finally broke at the end with the absolutely beautiful Global Communications remix of ‘Ob-Selon Mi-Nos’ by Mystic Institute.
Two hours of DJ Harvey at Barbarella’s was enough to see that this would be one for the books. When the crowd finally washed in the reviews were uniformly gushing – music, pacing, tension and release, DJ Harvey proved once again that pretty much no-one does the all-night thing better. The following morning Heidi Lawden arrived by boat with the whole crew and played a perfect set alongside Orpheu The Wizard and Apiento. Oprheu tripped it, Apiento brought the happy and Heidi had the perfect selection of (proper) deep house and morning-after business.
James Holroyd showed his experience and knocked it out of the park at both of his sets. For us as Begin on the first day and in the 2am slot of the Love International takeover of the Olive Grove. He certainly won himself a whole host of new fans from the latter. Get yourself a DJ that can do both! Younger DJs could do well to learn a thing or two from James’ humble attitude, GSOH and baked in acid house know-how. National treasure status is his.
The Maghreban played, for my money, the best set I heard. Entirely ploughing a unique musical furrow with a style that brought enough of his hip-hop skill set to the table to sound like no-one else. From breaks heavy funk to deep, dark house music he 100% nailed it and also previewed a forthcoming track of his own that went down like an instant classic.
It’s always a struggle reacclimatising to normal life after full immersion in a festival but never more so when the setting is so idyllic. We’re thinking about next July already…
Tickets will be available soon for Love International 2020