Croatia's got it all
Franz Ferdinand - INmusic Festival - Croatia

Croatia is a country growing in popularity. It’s a place that is consistently visited and talked about. Is this for its unending and vast nightlife, its cheap alcohol (and everything else), its pure scenery, its baking weather or secret unspoiled locations? Spoiler alert: it’s all of the above.

Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, combines the lively city landscape and historical architecture of Paris with the tranquility of the Lake District with its dense forests and refreshing blue waters, making it a completely unique location for a festival. You want a dirty club open to the early hours - it’s there. You want to roast marshmallows over a camp fire and sup local beer by the water - done. Situated by the pristine and swimmable Lake Jarun, INmusic festival provides a superior alternative to the muddy field. Here are the highlights...

Gogol Bordello pull in one of the biggest crowds of the whole event with their gypsy punk shenanigans. They even bring along some sort of MC-come-creepy-homeless-uncle along to get the crowd going, but even without him the amount of sweat and screams would be the same. Key song ‘Start Wearing Purple’ provokes some traveller style dancing amongst the most inebriated of the fans and head bops for the rest who haven’t been drinking since their plane took off. Frontman Eugene Hutz holds the audience in the palm of his hands throughout, and when he finally lets them go to exit the stage they demand several more songs. Eugene obliges with a hefty encore, making their support slot more of a headline affair.

Not all the crowds can be like this though, sometimes they can be a bit underwhelming. This is seen especially for UK act Dry the River, who play a triumphant set with their tops off in a stereotypically Englishman abroad fashion, but with so much going on in the festival such as shisha tents, cocktail bars and human jukeboxes, this could be excused.

New Order are a late addition to the festival due to The Cranberries dropping out, but they are an absolutely inspired replacement nonetheless. The group get off to a shaky start with Bernard Sumner’s vocals being slightly hit and miss, but by the time it comes to the anthems of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ and ‘True Faith’, a goat could have been at the mic and no one would have cared. Much to the delight and anticipation of the massive crowd, the band bring their set to a close with ‘Blue Monday’ and Joy Division’s classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Obviously it’s not going to be the same without Ian Curtis at the helm, but most of the fans hail it a justifiable cover. However, it does feel like there is no need to play it, New Order are an influential band in themselves, it just felt slightly unnecessary when their back catalogue is so vast and known. They don’t need to look elsewhere.

Art rock indie troubadours Franz Ferdinand are revisiting INmusic as a headliner for a third time, and Croatia in general for the dozenth, with Alex dedicating ‘Do You Want To’ to friends he met on a school trip (bless him) - so it’s no surprise that they are happy to be here. Franz take this headline time to preview some of their new material. Some of it follows their traditional catchy ethos, but some of their new material is very synth driven, with one of them even resembling the hard smack of the Mortal Kombat theme tune. However, they don’t choke anyone with new material like a lot of bands do who want to push a new album, as they play everything from ‘Take Me Out’ to ‘Walk Away’ and everything in between. Finishing off with an intense four-on-one-drum kit assault and an inescapable sing-along rendition of ‘This Fire’, the festival is brought to a cataclysmic close. Well, not quite, the party doesn’t finish till around 4am thanks to a wide variety of DJ sets and pristine 24/7 weather conditions.

Some festivals are stressful, but not INmusic. With a relaxing atmosphere in the air but still plenty of people about to create a party, you’ll never go to a nicer celebration. It might be the first event of this nature where I haven’t been covered in urine, not even my own.

If things are kept to this capacity and at these prices and in this location, this festival might become one of Croatia’s biggest (and smallest) surprises.

Words by Jamie Carson

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