Techno dispatch from Croatia: Dimensions was really quite good

Photos: Dimensions Festival / Dan Medhurst

A near-brush with an apocalyptic storm wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of the thousands of techno lovers at this year’s Dimensions festival in Croatia.

A thunderstorm, akin to the sort of stuff you’d see at the end of the world, forced a festival-wide shutdown on the final night after lightning struck one of the stages at Punta Cristo. The hundreds that braved the horrendous conditions were treated to a limited opening of the Moat stage later in the evening, while many opted to call it a night, seeking shelter.

Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald were wrapping up their hour-long set as Borderlands when the storm hit – and we went from warm house vibers to panic and a torrential downpour. As hundreds charged back down the hill from the main stage looking for shelter, a booming crack in the sky halted all the music.

Although it was a sour (and moderately terrifying) note to finish on, revellers had been treated to a week awash with sunshine, beats, and seriously good vibes.

dimensons theo

Set in an abandoned fortress, Dimensions provided the perfect setting for techno lovers to cut loose on the Croatian coast. Now in its third year, the little brother of bass fest Outlook continued to punch well above its weight drawing in some massive names to a bill which boasted the likes of Theo Parrish (above with Move D), Jon Hopkins and Moodymann while still tickling the gizzards of the underground for the more discerning crowd.

It opened on a spectacular note with a concert at the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre in nearby Pula. The awe-inspiring setting had the music to match, with stunning doses of the chilled and the amazing coming in the form of live performances from Caribou, Darkstar, and rising star of the summer Kwabs.

dimensions neils frahm

But it was German Nils Frahm (above) who stole the show, setting the benchmark for the next five days of music with a classically inspired set of electronica which had equal amounts of jaws-to-the-floor brilliance and hands in the air moments.

The first day of the festival proper kicked off the following afternoon, and there was no better way to do it than being on a boat party hosted by the Hessle Audio crew.  Ben UFO, Pangaea, and Pearson Sound went in heavy from the word go, with a packed deck of ravers going totally nuts to an array of raw bass and techno as the sky fell dark.

dimensions marcel

Later that evening, the truly worldwide and global sounds of Gilles Peterson had us dancing to a slightly different beat, before heading to The Void stage to witness a 2-hour techno masterclass by Marcel Dettmann (above). He took absolutely no prisoners, in a seamless set which did not miss a single beat. It made up for the technical issues poor-old Tama Sumo had experienced on that stage a few hours earlier, as it looked like someone had not set-up the turntables properly. Every time a bassline arrived her needles left the groove, and she was visibly pretty pissed off. You would not want to be that sound engineer, believe us.

The Moat stage was among the most impressive I personally encountered at a festival – a tunnel of stonework in a 30ft deep moat lined with some properly heavy sound.

dimensons tunnel

On Friday Ben UFO gives us another slice of the properly hard and fast beats – well beyond the 132 BPM mark. The following evening we totally lose our shit in the same arena to the mind-bending techno of Petar Dundov.

The absolute highlight of the weekend for us though was Jon Hopkins‘ live show on Friday night in the Clearing. The energy he pushed into his performance oscillated through the crowd – taking us on a journey of the beautiful, to the very heavy in the space of an hour. It was unbelievable to experience – and we feel there is still an awful lot to come from this talented Englishman.

Overall, with the campsite just a stones throw from the beach, and a 0.5 of beer costing you a reasonable 3(ish) quid it starts to make the trip out East all the more appealing. Oh, and you’ve probably worked out that the line up was pretty good as well.

Every stage had crystal clear sound – you could tell some serious investment had been put into getting it right, and it fully paid off – particularly with the crowd of easy-going ravers caring about the quality of their music far more than your average person on the street.

A bloody job well done to the Dimensions crew at pulling off a truly mind-blowing festival which touched across the full spectrum of all things techno and beyond. We look forward to seeing you back at the fort next year!