This summer the Dalmatian region of Croatia was graced with quite possibly the cutest festival I’ve ever attended. Cute in the sense that you never felt threatened and for me that’s a sign of a festival succeeding. In order for good vibes one has to feel comfortable in their surroundings and the folks over at Terraneo did an outstanding job of transforming an old military compound into a three stage, three dance hall, four day summer festival with more sun-drenched bedazzlement than you could shake a stick at. So you’ve succeeded at making your festival friendly, what now? Snag a great line up and find a place to host the thing, and boy did they. Not only did this festival’s line up impress (they’ve only been in the business for two years), the setting absolutely took my breath away. Not 20 minutes from the site of the festival one could visit one of the most beautiful coast lines I’ve ever witnessed and this only served to enhance my experience, as indeed it probably enhanced every festival-goers experience. Labelled as “The Summer’s Eco Music Festival” not only is this a festival for festivals sake but a workshop project to raise environmental awareness, even winning a prize for being the most environmentally aware organization in Croatia.
Tuesday: Apart from being the first day of me witnessing the amazing coast of Sibenik, Terraneo opened with a strong first day line up.
Anna Calvi – An absolutely breathtaking performance by this relatively unknown (hopefully not for long) act. Anna not only bewildered with her ferocious vocal range but showed off an impressive amount of guitar prowess to leave me utterly entertained, and heck, somewhat attracted!
The Notwist – The German alternative rock stalwarts known for their experimentation and Krauto-rock sensibilities played through a set of ear pleasing hits, many from their critically acclaimed album Neon Golden. Any fans will have left the gig completely satisfied and the accessibility of their intimate gig will surely have turned a few keen listeners.
Friendly Fires – I commend them for their energy but more specifically I commend Ed Macfarlane, to be able to perform their whole set without huffing and puffing; a testament to their dedication to getting people moving… and boy did they get people moving, playing hit after hit from their first two LPs, Friendly Fires did not disappoint.
Future Islands – My pleasant surprise at this years festival. The Baltimore trio had me perplexed with their sampler/bass guitar/eccentric singer combination that they managed to hold my attention photography-wise for a good half hour. On the left is one of the few photos of the frontman standing still (no joke, the dude jumped around and smashed his fist against the stage floor a lot more than I thought possible).
Wednesday: Possibly the most difficult day to cover due to the overlap of gigs and just the sheer amount of sets going on at once, consequently the Wednesday of this festival was quite possibly the most ‘happening’ night.
The Horrors – Coming from a successful third LP release with Skying, The Horrors set to the stage to impress and despite a rather static stage presence (bar frontman Faris Badwan), and a thoroughly photographer-unfriendly gig, the sound was of top quality and fans of their LP’s had nothing to be disappointed about!
The Vaccines – These boys need to release some new material ASAP! They played true to their image and with fervor, just not for very long! At this point in the career of The Vaccines, one can limit themselves to saying that their sets are indeed short but extremely intense.
tUnE-yArDs – Probably my new favourite live act. Merrill effortlessly recorded and sampled her voice (and the voices of the audience on a few amusing occassions!) and percussion to blend together a seamless and vibrant rendition of her first two albums. Hearty commendations to the saxophonists and bassists for keeping up with her pace as well. Not only do I congratulate how perfectly Merrill managed to capture the sound of her LP’s, I congratulate her effortless stage presence. She may seem ill at ease but she very quickly proves her kitschiness is there to win us over.
The Roots – Very little can be said about The Roots at this point in their career. The staples of live action hip-hop delivered once again playing hit after hit with the stage abound with movement and impromptu jamming. So captivating were The Roots that they nearly managed to distract me from ?uestlove’s afro for a second.
Thursday: The final day of the festival (discounting the final fourth day full of DJ acts) saw the musical acts change slightly to accompany the main event.
Wild Beasts – Having missed these boys when they played in Southampton I was pleasantly surprised to see them on the line up and, after introducing themselves in a rather abashed manner, proceeded to mesmerize the audience with their intricate falsetto vocal interplay, guitar harmonization, and intriguing percussion. They proved to be the perfect lead in to the main act of the night.
The XX – Being a huge fan of Jamie XX and thus inadvertently the XX, I was curious to observe how the intimate debut album of the XX would get translated to a live a setting. The answer? With A LOT of bass. When the band weren’t playing their hits or introducing (some rather amazing) new material, Jamie was supplying the audience with enough bass to actually make my entire body shake, it isn’t often that stage hands rush to ensure equipment stability after a bout of bass rumbling. That being said all of the elements employed by Jamie inter-played beautifully with the musings of Romy and Oliver. I left this set, somewhat shaken, but thoroughly satisfied.
On a final note, this festival, and Croatia in general, are well on their way to attracting more and more young people to their beautiful country. Sure bigger festivals with more robust line ups exist, but none of them (and I mean this) can beat the location Terraneo has decided to host itself, and with only two years of pedigree as a fully fledged festival, I cannot wait to see what the organisers have in store for next year.