- You tentatively make your way up a dusty road in the absolute darkness of the Croatian countryside. A wide path caters for the shapes of people barely visible in the black night. High above, from the peak of the hillside, comes a deep rumble of low frequency sub-bass that shakes the grit under your feet as you climb the steady incline towards the lights shooting into the sky. You've made it. Outlook Festival.
Now in its third year, Outlook has matured from a dubstep-centric affair of just 1500 people, into a globally recognised event catering for a wider range of musical tastes and 5000 fans storming the walls of a ruined Fort near Pula. Building on the success of the previous two editions, the young team organising Outlook took a huge leap forward in 2010 with the venue, line-up and sound to provide the best four days of bass music in Europe, if not the world.
In the campsite, boys and girls woke up to a 12k sound system, a hot shower and a drink at the bar before sitting on the beach to enjoy a mixture of reggae, hip-hop and dubstep from noon to dusk. And then there were the boat parties. Swamp81, Iration Steppa and Tectonic all made nautical noise on the high seas. The Deep Medi boat thoroughly ransacked the punters with Quest & Silkie, Tunnidge and Mala on board, even if an oversale of tickets made for one-in, one-out on the top-deck dance floor.
As night fell, the crowds went towards the disused Roman fort—a maze of five arenas including a huge open air courtyard closed in by 40 foot walls, a smaller dungeon and a circular ballroom. However it was the Mungos' arena that stole the show. A smaller courtyard housing the legendary Mungos Hi-Fi system provided crystal clear sound for the best of the festival, with Vagabondz, Sub:Stance, DMZ and SubDub all holding their respective showcases there.
On Friday night Appleblim, Shackleton and Scuba delivered a sonic assault of Berlin-esque future techno. The following night saw outstanding sets at DMZ from Kryptic Minds and Loefah who ended on Technotronic's "Pump up the Jam" to a dramatic karaoke effect. Tectonic head honcho Pinch also shone through with a set of skippy bass beats and back-to-back dubplate burners. Oneman, as always, knew exactly how to make a party move. The small confined space of the circular ballroom was the perfect setting for his impeccable set of funky anthems and classic jams including Robin S's "Show Me Love," which got a rapturous roar from the crowd.
In terms of dub vibrations, Channel One, Mungo's Hi Fi, Iration Steppas and Dubkasm were all outstanding, as was Mad Professor, whose fearsome sub-bass could be felt right at the back of the packed main stage. Gentlemans Dub Club, a nine piece live band, also filled Arena One with the most hyped-up crowd of the weekend, wildly skanking to an exceptional set of knees-up ska and roots reggae flavours. The ultimate highlight was Danish dub collective Firehouse Sound, Copenhagen's answer to Jamaican sound system culture. Hosted by energetic frontman J.G. and backed by fresh selector Junior, the young Sub Dub regulars delivered lashings of digital dub and hard-hitting dancehall from the likes of Maffi, Mungos and Soom T, tearing the place apart with a Firehouse special of MC Snow's 90's hit "Informer."
As a result, the Leeds promoters responsible for all this are looking to establish the fort as a regular home for the festival and have big plans for expansion in terms of the site, the music and the capacity. Can they better the fun had knee-deep in dust, rubble and grimy beats, or partying in the sunshine amongst a sea of New Era hats and skimpy bikinis? To find out, you'll need to get there in 2011. Judging by the speed at which 2010 sold out, I'd start thinking about it now.