Outlook Festival Takes Opening Show to ”Dizzee-ing” Heights!

Total Croatia News

Dave Gasson

TCN’s Dave Gasson gives us a closer look at how the 10th Outlook Festival went down in Pula.

How do you celebrate a decade of success? By throwing a party to remember; and that’s exactly what Outlook did this year. Ten years have passed since the first Outlook festival came to Croatia and this anniversary was celebrated in extravagant style by the hosting of an event with an extensive and hugely exciting line up spread over two venues and five days and nights.

The historic Roman amphitheatre in Pula was the venue for a memorable opening night. After an old-skool warm-up by Andrew Hinchliffee, it was the turn of American DJ and record producer DJ Shadow to take to the decks and he didn’t disappoint the growing party crowd.

He delivered a unique and inspiring set consisting entirely of his own music in a melody of differing ways coupled with a stunning visual show. He merged elements of hip hop, funk, ambient, jazz, soul and rock to create a new genre-bending sound.

The appreciative audience were given samples of his earlier work in the guise of the huge ”Six Days” and the recent, more political ”Nobody Speak” which features Run The Jewels and is taken from the current album, ”The Mountain Will Fall”.

Then it was the turn for the Outlook Orchestra, a bespoke ensemble of 20 of the UK’s finest musicians and led by the BASCA award-winning composer Tommy Evans. They performed and played whatever was required of them to entwine seamlessly to demonstrate what each genre of music represented.

The Orchestra was joined by some of the greatest vocalists and MCs on the current scene. Together they linked Jamaican reggae and London grime perfectly via hip hop, garage, drum & bass and dubstep and played tribute to some of the biggest tracks recognised worldwide across the dance floors of sound systems.

The first to take to the stage and join the orchestra was American rapper Pharoahe Monch, known for his complex lyrics and delivery. He was followed swiftly by UK rapper Jehst, who has been at the forefront of the hip hop scene for the past 15 years. The influential artist continued his performance with South London’s Loyle Carner, who, at just 20, is cited as being Britain’s newest hope in hip hop. Following a two track input from the critically acclaimed UK trio Foreign Beggars, it was time for one of the true pioneers of British music to perform.

The MOBO award winning Roots Manuva gave a memorable rendition of his track ”All Things To All Men” followed by the fantastic ”Dreamy Days”.

Garage music was safely represented by Jenna G’s honest cover of MJ Coles ”Sincere” and Jesse Appiah continued with covers from Burial and Roy Davis Jr. A more gentle interlude came in the guise of Submotion Orchestra’s lead singer Ruby Wood and her sumptuous vocals on her solo ”All Yours” followed by an equally divine version of ”Alicia”, originally by Mala.

Grime scene veterans Newham Generals gave an appropriate version of Breakage’s ”Hard”, refusing to soften down their music in the light of renewed mainstream interest. They were followed by the equally strong pairing of Brixton MC, Killa P and Roll Deep’s founding member Flowdan who performed the genre-defining dubstep track ”Skeng” by The Bug.

Jamaican singer-songwriter Horace Andy, known for his long association with British trip-hop band Massive Attack, gave a fine performance of his break-through single ”Skylarking” followed by ”Cus Cus” and a crowd pleasing mash-up of ”Money Money/Ain’t No Sunshine”.

The evening was presented enthusiastically by Gentleman’s Dub Club member Jonathon Scratchly who included a lively performance of his band’s own tracks ”Highgrade” and ”Gridlock” He showed a real ability to work with the audience, raising the energy levels to new heights. With the skies beginning to break and the ominous threat of rain in the air General Levy, another veteran of urban music, gave a flawless and crowd involving performance including his self-penned classics ”Pull Up” and ”Incredible”.

Congo Natty took to the stage together with Jungle underground sensations Nanci Correia and Phoebe aka Iron Dread. Londoner Congo Natty aka Rebel Mc successfully integrated modern dance music with reggae artists such as Barrington Levy and Dennis Brown to create the precursor to a style of music eventually known as Jungle. Together they performed ”Get Ready” followed by “Notorious” to a full capacity crowd.

Last but by no means least, one of the original Queens of reggae, Dawn Penn, treated the audience to a very special rendition of the instantly recognisable ”No, No, No”. This was a perfect end to this section of Outlook’s monumental opening show and paved the way magnificently for the final act of the night.

With the anticipation at critical level, the platinum-selling MC and producer Dizzee Rascal entered the stage to deafening applause.

With DJ MK on the decks, Dizzee Rascal and his crew showed just why they are largely responsible for the resurgence of grime both in the UK and worldwide.

Dizzee Rascal is accredited for leading the way and inspiring a new generation of artists and his performance showed that he was a true master as he showcased work from his latest album ”Raskit”. 

The transfixed crowd reacted with full enthusiasm to a taste of the new material with the most memorable being ”Space” and ”Make It Last”. Dizzee gave a high energy, faultless performance holding the crowd despite the heavy downpour towards the end of the set that would have been a challenge for a less talented and experienced act.

This most epic of shows was drawn to a conclusion by an unforgettable rendition of ”Fix Up, Look Sharp” from his Mercury Prize winning first album ”Boy In Da Corner” much to the ecstatic delight of his fans.

After the opening night spectacular show, Outlook moves to the beach for 4 days and to Fort Punto Christo. The location for the SeaSplash festival in July and Dimensions festival a few weeks ago. Outlook excelled itself with over 300 artists present playing on numerous stages each supplied with the very best of sound systems.

Together with the infamous boat parties, there were many informative workshops available and discussions and interviews taking place in the Knowledge Centre which allowed musicians to discuss their work and answer questions to captive audiences. Its officially party time and the festival becomes one huge dance floor.

The unsettled, sometimes testing weather did not hinder the party spirit and despite a few occasions where the stages were required to be evacuated, the organisers maintained a smooth running event. After heavy downpours during Thursdays performance from Ghostface Killah & Raekwon, the sun made an appearance the following day where LTJ Bukem, together with DJ Marky and Fabio were joined by MC’s Lowqui, GQ and DRS to provide an ecstatic audience some of the best drum and bass sets of the festival.

The beach stage was definitionally the place to be with these great DJs taking the crowd from the afternoons sunshine into the glowing sunset of the early evenings.

As darkness fell, The Clearing stage played host to an unforgettable performance by the fabulous Gentleman’s Dub Club. The opening concert’s MC, Jonathon Scratchley returned with the full band to deliver an outstanding and even more energetic set.

The band were joined by some very special guests, Lady Chann and Eva Lazarus, who each gave outstanding performances matching the boys energy and providing a hugely welcome addition to the evening. Eva Lazerus later told us how she is excited to appear on the latest album release by the Gentleman’s Dub Club.

Lead vocalist Jonathon Scratchly and the band gave an unforgettable and, at times, emotional performance. They expressed their gratitude for ten wonderful Outlook Festival years and remembered friends lost.

All the members of the band came to the front of the stage regularly and engaged with the crowd and at one point, the lead singer climbed the safety barrier and dived into the crowd for some good old fashioned crowd surfing and, as the saying goes, “The crowd went wild”.

Outlook Festival’s 10th anniversary celebration proved to be an unforgettable experience, a show of unique proportions and of the finest musical quality. It is clear to see why Outlook has grown to become the largest SoundSystem Culture festival in Europe as it continues to bring together some of the biggest names from the most cutting edge and vibrant dance scenes around whilst maintaining its integrity, love and respect for music in its purest form.

Cheers, Outlook Festival! Happy 10th birthday!


Text by Hannah Smith, images by Dave Gasson – Not for reuse


Still to look forward to in Zagreb later in the year are Bryan Adams on the 9th of November, 2017 and Beth Hart the following day, on the 10th of November at the Boogaloo club.


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