International Festival Review: Dimensions Festival

After rave reviews from friends who have attended Croatia’s Dimensions Festival the past two years, a visit to Dimensions was the first thing I’d planned before I’d even booked my flights to Europe.

Festival preview videos and aftermovies tend to provide a misguided representation of events at times, but Dimensions was definitely not guilty of false advertising and delivered on all fronts.

From the late-night partying amongst Roman forts of yesteryear, to the relaxed vibes on the boat parties, six days at one of the most unique destinations I’ve ever partied was an amazing experience.

Usually I’m the person looking after my friends who have suffered festival injuries or have overdone it, but now it was my turn to suffer an inconvenience.

Following a quiet night at a hostel in Pula, four friends and I checked in to an apartment near the festival site and started sinking Croatia’s famous Osjukaka 1.8l beers.

After countless beers and banter we ventured to the festival with our newfound Tinder friends, en route to a surprise beach party.

What would happen next threw a spanner in the works of my time at Dimensions.
While walking down a dark residential road, I suddenly fell into an uncovered drain and sustained a nasty gash on my knee.

With the relief that I hadn’t broken my leg, I soldiered on, paid a quick visit to the festival medical tent for a clean-up and I was on my way.

Any initial pain was blanketed by the excitement of our first taste of Dimensions, with quality house and tech house at the beach.

This uncovered drain caused me a lot of grief, but six days at Dimensions Festival was worth pushing through the pain.

Although Dimensions didn’t get off on the right foot (pardon the pun), I was determined to push through the pain and enjoy everything the festival had to offer.

And my struggles to walk throughout the event were well worth it, starting with the opening concert at the spectacular Pula Amphitheatre.

Pula’s most famous landmark was built in the first century AD and hosted gladiator battles with about 20,000 spectators during medieval times.

Now, the ampitheatre is used for regular performances and is the home of Dimensions’ opening concert, which featured 70s and 80s songstress Grace Jones and Berlin electronic supergroup Moderat – a collaborative project between Modeselektor and Apparat.

The peak of the opening concert was by far the live performance by Moderat.

The progressive build-up of techno melodies combined with Sascha Ring’s sublime vocals had the crowd in a trance, and dancing away in the breathtaking ampitheatre was a surreal experience that I will hold with me forever.

There were so many exceptional Moderat tracks to cherish, but without doubt the singalong of “This is not what you wanted, not what you had in mind,” during ‘Bad Kingdom’ was the climax of one of the best electronic sets I’ve seen.

The Pula Ampitheatre was one of the most unique and incredible stages in the world. Photo courtesy of Dan Medhurst Photography/Dimensions Festival.

The first official day at the festival site on Thursday saw us check out Floating Point’s live set at The Clearing – a typical festival stage with open spaces and an impressive audio/visual display behind the decks.

He lifted the vibe with acidic techno that was much different to his disco DJ sets and sent everyone’s minds into a spin with experimental sounds at times.

We planned to check out Ben UFO at The Moat stage, but unfortunately long queues for the limited capacity stage saw us return to The Clearing.

I was able to explore The Moat at different times throughout the festival and was amazed by the fact I was dancing in the surrounds of an ancient Roman fort, which was now being used for the enjoyment of underground electronic music.

The disappointment of missing a highly-anticipated act was counteracted by the high quality of acts on offer across the festival, including Dam Funk, who delivered funky tunes with shades of hip-hop at The Clearing stage.

After a ripping set alongside Jon K at Dekmantel Festival, Joy Orbison was high on my list of acts to witness at Dimensions.

He closed The Void stage, a more traditional festival stage surrounded by trees which had an intimate feel.

In typical Orbison fashion, the London selector mixed things up throughout the set with plenty of genre hopping, including a personal favourite of mine – Tessela’s ‘Hackney Parrot’ – which drew praise from the loving crowd.

the clearing dan medhurst photography
The Clearing Stage was a typical festival stage with wide open spaces, highlighted by a stellar set from Daphni. Photo courtesy of Dan Medhurst Photography/Dimensions Festival.

On Friday we set off for the Hessle Audio boat party at sunset.

Our first boat party featuring Ben UFO B2B with Pangaea and Pearson Sound saw the DJs placed downstairs due to threatening thunderstorms, leaving more space for a boogie upstairs and an up-for-it crowd surrounding the decks downstairs.

The selectors onboard delivered electric vibes throughout the party as the fortunate attendees enjoyed the sunset and stunning sea views.

As we left the boat, the predicted storm rolled in and we were pelted with torrential rain.
With the festival site completely shut down, we returned to our apartment to dry off and reload.

We made our way back to the festival later in the night and visited the smaller Arija stage, where Folamour served up the groove-laden house we were after, with joy on the faces of the intimate crowd.

You know that feeling when you discover a DJ for the first time and can’t wipe the smile off your face? Well that’s the feeling I had during Folamour’s set.

The good vibes continued with Feelings DJs closing the Arija stage, complete with Floorplan’s bopper ‘Tell You No Lie’ and closing with Tears For Fears’ timeless classic ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’.

boat party kate berry
The boat parties at Dimensions were something else. Photo courtesy of Kate Berry/Dimensions Festival.

I stumbled home and snuck in a few hours sleep before scrambling to the Dure Vie boat party on Saturday, making the boat just in time for boarding.

My hangover was instantly cured when I realised I was receiving a second serving of my new-found love, Folamour for a delicious late brunch, alongside Dan Shake and Dusty Fingers.

Once again the decks were set up downstairs and I thought to myself that the dance music played on this particular boat party was the type of electronic music that even your parents would appreciate and groove along to.

Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ were perfect examples of the disco classics that were being thrown around.

Saturday night started by checking out the start of Theo Parrish’s marathon all-night long 9pm-5am set on the Garden Stage before moving back to The Clearing for Daphni.

I was incredibly curious to see what the alter ego of Canadian producer Caribou had to offer and I was blown away by the talents and energy he showed on stage during a three-hour set.

Not once did he give the crowd a rest as he pumped out bass-driven house, which was just what the doctor ordered for many tiring bodies.

Midway through the set he gave a nod to Aussie fave Mall Grab when he dropped ‘Pool Party Music’, and struck a chord with Four Tet’s unreleased ‘Question’. (I highly recommend you listen to it here.

Chicago house veteran Parris Mitchell kept the party going until the early hours with funky house, kickstarted by Gwen McCrae’s ‘Keep The Fire Burning’.

Paul Johnson – Get Get Down (Laidback Luke Remix) was another certified banger to feature in Mitchell’s set.

Consistent rain on the final day saw us wait until later in the evening to join the huge crowd at The Clearing for Nina Kraviz’s set.

garden kate berry
The Garden Stage played host to Theo Parrish’s marathon set. Photo courtesy of Kate Berry/Dimensions Festival.

Kraviz gave punters high BPM slamming techno and from there I swung between stages, discovering new music and exploring parts of the festival site I hadn’t visited, including The Stables – yet another incredible stage in the fort with the glowing Dimensions neon sign adding to the magical atmosphere.

After a few final shoeys, the sun rose and the main festival site closed, so I kicked on to the after party at the stunning beach bar and reflected on a memorable six days at the truly unique Dimensions Festival, which was well worth pushing on with a dodgy leg and more than a few cheeky painkiller beers.