Love Intl cover

9 moments from Love International Festival

The buzz around Croatian dance music festivals has dwindled somewhat in the last few years, as prices have risen and new, cheaper parties have cropped up as far as Albania. We headed to fresh festival Love International, now in its 3rd edition, to see if things were still as utopian as ever. Held at the legendary Garden Resort and with just 3 stages for 2500 people, but over 8 days, LI sells itself as Croatia’s answer to Ibiza and its former relaxed balearic vibe. We found exactly that, albeit with a shed load of hype thrown in. Here’s 9 of the best moments we had.

1. Optimo drop Madonna
With only one stage at the main festival open on the Wednesday night, it was only on arrival at Barbs that we felt that we’d arrived. After a heavy warm up set from Dan Beaumont, Optimo reset the room in style with some outrageous prog-rock and Rolling Stones before swapping eclectic and classy cuts with Young Marco. Things were all getting a bit serious, but then they teased the vocal from Gimme Gimme Gimme before dropping Madonna Hung Up. Then shit got real.2. Roman Flugel, Ata and Benedikt Frey slay our first boat party
As the Argonaughty pulled out from the pier with a cheer, there was a broad consensus that all aboard were living ‘their very best lives.’ A hazy afternoon of atmospheric house and disco ensued, with the indulgence aided by the beautiful surroundings of the azure Adriatic and verdant rocky islands. With Flugel at the helm, captaining a yacht of heavy fog-horn beats with splashes of tropical strings, I think all could appreciate the company, sounds and the setting. Even a punter relieving himself through a hole in the deck floor and an over-eager chap thrusting against the mast failed to disturb the blissful event. We returned at 7:00pm elated, albeit a little wobbly.

4. Midland takes centre stage
Despite being given a slot on the third and smallest stage of the main site, albeit a 4 hour set, Midland still managed to make it the place to be on Friday night. The man played with the ecstatic, new confidence he’s strutted with since Final Credits cemented his name as a mainstay last year. Effortlessly battling the noise spillage from the nearby beach stage by keeping his cool and sticking to his guns, he slowly built the foundations for a classy finish, ending the set as he began it, with an a cappella of Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’. Another highlight was hearing him mix in and out of Daft Punk’s ‘Disco Cubizm’ remix multiple times. All hail the new Midland.5. Artwork and Joy O get the main stage pumping
The main (Garden) stage struggled at times to get fully busy, with Gerd coming out on top on Thursday night down at the Beach stage leaving Move D with a dwindling crowd. Palms Trax drew a busy but not huge crowd on Friday night, and Saturday night looked to be much the same when Avalon Emerson’s late substitution, Artwork, started playing to almost no-one at 9pm. But if there’s anyone out there who can get a party started against the odds, it’s Artwork. Playing around with vocal samples and house-y electro, the man quickly had people running and had the place heaving for Joy Orbison. Wearing a fitting football shirt, complete with Hinge Finger Records sponsor, Joy O set about bringing the house down with womp-y bangers before getting deeper, heavier and faster, which came as a relief to the mostly British crowd after a few days of house and disco.

6. Hunee plays the Prodigy as the rain starts to fall
After a flawless deep house set from Gideön, Hunee took to the decks at Barbarellas at 4am, opening with a staple of his – Pointer Sisters’ ‘Happiness’ – before dropping a classically balls-y entrance in the form of Barbataques’ ‘Baiana’ (Wolf Mueller’s Drum Drop). With three hours to go, Hunee held the crowd in the palm of his hand, slowly giving the crowd more and more to go wild over, before surrendering to the beauty of the night with a gorgeous ambient track at 6ish which had everyone’s hands in the air for a good 5 minutes. Who needs kick drums. And then just when we all thought the sun was gonna rise and make the night even more memorable, it poured with rain. And he played the Prodigy. An unforgettable set.7. Four Tet + Floating Points NTS boat party heals the hangovers
Although the boat was rammed and prickling with anticipation, this ever present pair had a clear idea of what’s needed on a Sunday boat party that starts at 3pm. They begun with soft and pleasant funk, soul and reggae, before being rudely interrupted by the boat’s captain, who made clear that it wasn’t just gonna be a party, it was gonna be a “very f****** good one!” Then things got very loose, and airing’s of Floating Points’ new techno-ey tune that he keeps dropping and two introductions of Daphni’s ‘Ye Ye’ made the lucky sailors who made it onto the boat feel very special indeed.

8. Ben UFO smoking loads of cigarettes on the Hope Works Boat Party
After a cracking b2b set with Craig Richards at Barbarellas the night before, Bufo set about tearing the roof off the Argonaughty boat party on Monday night. With it being a Hope Works special, and Job Jobse sadly missing the boat due to a broken arm, the club’s founder Lo Shea warmed up for 90 minutes, covering ambient, disco, house, techno and breakbeat. Ben UFO then quickly reminded everyone how versatile he is, playing a hugely varied set of global heaters, all the while looking slightly tired and smoking like a teenager who’s just been allowed to go to his first festival. We were intrigued by this change in character – Ben always has seemed the quiet nerdy type -seeing him out at the sunrise sessions ’til the early hours the night before and chaining the cigs felt odd. So we asked him after his set how late he had stayed out. He answered “1pm… you only live once right?” Highlights include the Four Tet’s much hyped Nelly Furtado remix, 15 minutes of jungle at the end, raised gun fingers when the fog horn got pulled, and a playful disco closer.9. Rub N Tug close out the beach stage with Cerrone
One of the nice things about Love International was the frequent sightings of seasoned middle-aged ravers, all of which knew their shit, singing along to classics and filling out the stages that didn’t have a superstar DJ playing at them. It was here that you most felt the ‘balearic’ vibe that the festival prides itself on, with a very relaxed yet focused dance-floor everywhere you went. Watching Rub N Tug close the beach stage with the eternal and never ending Cerrone version of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ was just about the most ‘balearic’ moment of the whole week, and left a sweet taste of the main festival site which we’ll definitely be returning to.

For more information head to the Love International website.

Photo Credits
Cover Photo: Jake Kay
Barbarellas: Here and Now
Midland on the Olive Grove Stage: Here and Now
Four Tet & Floating Points: Here and Now

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