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Rob Boffard recalls Soundwave 2010
Words Rob Boffard // Images Romain Kedochim
As the Beatnik crew headed down to Soundwave Croatia a couple of weeks ago, our very own Rob Boffard got his pen and pint ready to make some observations. Read his diary of the festival below.
If there was a defining moment of this year’s Soundwave Festival, it was when Riot Jazz picked up their instruments—including a massive white sousaphone—and marched into the sea.
They did this at the behest of Beatnik Editors Ali and Sven, who wanted to get photos of them, but things started getting interesting when they began to play for those on the beach. Pretty soon, an impromptu jazz jam was going down, and as waves washed around their legs Riot Jazz found themselves with a whole new beach stage to contend with.
But that came later. Soundwave—a three-day festival in Petrcane, back-end-of-nowhere, Croatia—was a lot bigger than that. And boy did it take some travelling to get to. By the time Ali and Sven were at the festival grounds on Friday, this writer (plus partner and photographer Nicole), Beatnik chief snapper Romain and his partner Ilana Lorraine were barely into the country itself.
Four busses, a delayed plane, a cab and a lot of walking. Zadar – the town on the coast where we crashed out – might have been beautiful, but it’s pretty damn remote. Arriving at half nine on the Friday night, the only instinct was to get food and lots and lots of beer. And sitting in the restaurant by the marina, one thing made itself abundantly plain: drinking beer by the Adriatic under a clear sky at one in the morning is a wonderful way to spend your time.
Soundwave isn’t the biggest or most widespread of festivals (it tops out at around 3000 people, most of whom only arrive after sunset) but it must rank as one of the most chilled. When we arrived at the tree-covered grounds, with direct access to the rock beach, the DJ was playing Jaylib and the beer was flowing. We tried to get access to the boat party, failed, and went back to crash out by the water and enjoy it. Yeah, yeah, we had interviews to do, but we could deal with those later.
Highlights? The thing about Soundwave is that despite its underdog atmosphere, it delivers dozens of cool little moments. This writer’s pick? Dancing to Rick Ross at the Beach Bar as the waves sloshed over our feet and Kidkanevil played in the sun. Frankly Saturday afternoons don’t get a hell of a lot better than that.
Especially when they’re closely followed by an evening of DJ Format and Mr Thing playing anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better on the main stage. Jam-packed, riotous and rowdy as hell, it was one of the gigs of the festival. And if you didn’t like that,Paul White was rocking the beach bar. What can we say: it worked.
The thing about Soundwave is that you don’t sleep. Not only is it hellishly hot (especially in a flat with a broken aircon) but the Croatians breed crack regiments of attack mosquitos. You only get a few hours rest in the time after 6AM, when the sun cracks the horizon and the vampire bugs fly back to the ninth circle of hell.
Every morning, Nicole looked like she’d come over with a case of chicken pox. And here’s the thing: Croatian supermarkets don’t sell bug repellent. Raid, sure, but nothing you can use to actually spray on your skin. Clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made by someone enterprising. Anyway, by the time we grabbed a meal in the town of Petrcane, your correspondent was feeling a tad woozy from lack of sleep. Like, hallucinating-type woozy.
Still, duty calls: in this case, an interview with DJ Format. He’d played four gigs at the festival, and reckoned he enjoyed the boat party more than he did the smasher with Mr. Thing the night before (if you want to see why, check our interview coming real soon!).
And it was funny: on the Sunday, which you could argue was the main day, you could see the Beatnik doing what they all did best. Romain, Ilana and Nicole took some of the illest photos you can imagine. Ali and Sven schmoozed and did editor-type stuff, as well as masterminding that Riot Jazz photo shoot.
Steve was professionally ginger. Shernay flitted in and out of the frame with the video camera. Johnny and Lolly and everybody else wandered around drinking beer. And your correspondent? Passed out by the beach, half-eaten cheeseburger in hand. Hey, strength was needed for that night, where we all got drunk, laughed a lot and had divided opinions on Cinematic Orchestra. It was fun.
Perhaps it’s best to stop at this point to tot up some stats for Soundwave.
Total travelling time for trip: 33 hours
Number of busses: 8
Number of cabs taken: 20
Missed flights: 1
Overbooked seats so people had to stand on a bus for three hours: 1
Beers drunk: 2,654
Dodgy festival meals consumed: 64
Mosquito bites (estimated total): 80,000,000,0005
Ridiculous faces pulled by Sven while videoing: 18
Interviews conducted: 9 (possibly 10, but the trombonist from Riot Jazz looked bemused when asked if he drunk vodka out of his instrument)
Number of instrument valves lost by Riot Jazz in the ocean: 1
Number of injuries: 2 (Steve diving in finger-first and Romain playing Bruce Willis)
Times attempted to interview Broke ‘n £nglish: 192
Number of super-helpful Zagreb airport employees: 1 (Thanks Damir!)
Great moments: Still counting.
What a festival. Shouts to the whole Beatnik crew (and Noah from Soundwave) for making it happen. Have a look at the photos and interviews that pop up on this site in the next month or so. If they’re coherent, then we did what we came to do.