All photos by Tomislav Sporis.
As our first impressions demonstrated, there were some mighty fine presences onstage at EB Festival Zagreb. We’re talking young men with great hair. We’re talking harps. We’re talking a shirtless Patrick Wolf sweating and bellowing in our faces. Yeah, boyee.
We love going to our Zagreb festivals not only because of the music, but also because we always enjoy the warm and convivial atmosphere that the lovely Croatian audience inspires. Yes, folks: we got tore up, straightaway. By the time Eyedress hit the stage, we were in just the right spirit to be drenched in their strange (yet quite cohesive) blend of aggressive rapping and ’80s-y smoothness. The group maintained a humorous onstage rapport and never seemed to take much seriously, but they captured a few serious hearts that night and made at least one of us do the ooga chaka baby dance.
One of the things that really attracts him to Croatia, says Patrick Wolf, is that he wishes to be with those who wish they could live their sexuality more freely. He certainly brought out the lust in the crowd that evening, both aurally and visually. Wolf prowled the stage like a beast, and eventually shed his shirt, jump off the dais, and started flirting with an unimpressed bouncer.
Headliner Erlend Øye made some divisive comments during our recent interview, including that “the problem” with electronic music is that it’s “fucking boring to see live.” That one certainly inspired more than a few comments on our Facebook page. While Erlend was more congenial than controversial with the Croatian audience, his atmosphere had more of an “Uncle Erl’s Front Porch Singalong” vibe than the audience was really into. As for his closing stagedive to the Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg’s classic “Je T’aime.. Moi Non Plus”, it was more “øye vey” than “øye øye øye!”
Den Sorte Skole had a flavor that fits well with our Berlin sensibilities. It’s a sort of World Music-meets-Moderat energy that would kill around these parts. Hearing their set at the end of the night was both electrifying and educational, and by the time we got back to the hotel room we could barely find energy to get into our beds.
Thanks again, Zagreb, it’s always beautiful to see you.
Dive into last night’s impressions from our latest festival installment in Zagreb, Croatia. After highly energetic nights in Podgorica, Vienna and Budapest, Zagreb offered a more oneiric lineup with Erlend Oye, Patrick Wolf, Den Sorte Skole and Eyedress. Stay tuned for our full review on monday and forthcoming live videos in the next weeks!
Photos by Tomislav Sporis and festival guests.
Den Sorte Skole
Electronic Beats’s festival season has gathered steam with a rainstorm rave in Podgorica and a Halloween bash in Budapest, and this coming weekend the fun continues with another impeccable line-up, this time in Zagreb. We’re still in recovery mode after popping in to many of Budapest’s best hangouts, but we’re already researching the places we’d like to visit in Croatia, so we tapped a local crew to recommend some of the capital’s must-see locations. We’re also giving away 20 tickets for our November 8 show, which stars recent interview subject Erlend Øye, Den Sorte Skole, and Dark Matters.
Sirup is one of the most loved clubs in Zagreb and probably the most famous place to dance the night away. Over the past seven years, its booth has welcomed a laundry list of some of the world’s most renowned spinners. It recently moved to a new location in an old, historically-protected steam mill factory from the industrial revolution. If you’re keen to find Zagreb’s answer to Berghain, look no further than Sirup.
Masters is the best-kept secret of the Croatian dance music scene. It fits a mere 120 people and the best sound system in Zagreb, and its devoted clientele once saved it from being shut down. Recommended if you like an intimate and relaxed atmosphere, house, disco, and DJs like Gerd Janson and Mark E.
At Daus, you can party as if you were in a warehouse in more famous clubbing capitals like London or Berlin. It’s located in an abandoned building, and its unusual location combined with its interesting crowd and solid bookings has made this place a must for any serious partygoer in Zagreb—especially those who crave adventures in little-known hotspots that the likes of Resident Advisor and Facebook haven’t found yet.
Funk Club is a small bar/club located in Tkalciceva street, which is mostly reserved for the nightlife and bar parties in Zagreb. Although the street is bursting with bars, Funk is one of the two places that stand out in a musical perspective. The place is divided into two sections: a bar on the ground floor and a club downstairs via the spiral staircase. The vibe is chilled, drinks are cheap, and the sounds are indebted to disco, funk, afro, and soul. And to top it all off, Funk club is open every day.
The only other spot on Tkalciceva Street that’s worth mentioning to a musically-discerning audience is Melin. The place itself is a bar during the week, but on the weekends, it offers top-knotch jazz concerts. It’s decorated in a retro style with old school TVs set up as improvised tables and an open terrace surrounded by forest. It’s perfect for summer lounging.
Medika is an autonomous cultural center and squat that’s located in an abandoned pharmaceutical factory in the very heart of Zagreb. The grounds house several independent collectives and organizations which all deal with various sorts of promotions of different strains of culture. If you’re familiar with squat culture, you probably know what Medika’s about in a musical sense: reggae, dub, punk, bass, dubstep, and drum n bass.
The Bon Ton store/gallery is a “concept store” whose concept is music. They’ve got all kinds of musical equipment (Rewox amplifiers, rotary mixers) and a great selection of 12”, clothes, and books. The store/gallery is also a place to chill and mingle, so you can come here and have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while listening to your favorite vinyl on a vintage Celsetion Deeton speakers.
Močvara means “The Swamp.” It was originally a cult club devoted to Zagreb’s “alternative” culture, but over the years it has become a place where all sorts of audiences interface. The programming features theater performances, films, workshops, lectures, and, of course, concerts and club nights. Despite its eclectic schedule, Močvara focuses on live bands.
Pogon Jedinstvo provides a space for cultural, musical, and youth-oriented programs in Zagreb. Every year, Pogon hosts over 200 various open public happenings from all disciplines of contemporary culture and arts: exhibitions, theater and dance shows, new circus shows, concerts, lectures, public panels and more.
Pitch Record Store
This vinyl record store might not be a club or a bar, but music lovers shouldn’t pass it by. Situated in the very center of the city, Pitch owns a great selection of 12″s and an open decks policy, so it’s an ideal place for a weekend warm-up or a nice afternoon chat. Although the idea of open decks might seem to attract amateurs, DJ TLR and Delta Funktionen often take advantage of it.//
It seems as though nothing stifles Erlend Øye’s enthusiasm. When I met the Norweigan musician at the end of a long press day of back-to-back interviews, the singer-songwriter laughed off news that the Bubbles record label planned to unveil his new album, Legao, on German Unity Day, when all record shops would be closed. Doh. His judgements on electronic music and reggae are refreshingly frank and a bit caustic, but he remains optimistic and committed to the simplicity of his current acoustic set-up, which you can witness in person on November 8 when he performs at EB’s festival in Zagreb alongside Patrick Wolf, Den Sorte Skole, and Eyedress. In the end, Øye comes across as a deeply loveable crank. First in his line of fire is Manchester, a town he lived in between stints in London, Berlin, and Sicily. I fled the city myself less a year ago, so I opened our conversation with our common ground.
What led you to Manchester in the ‘90s?
In 1999, I met the guys around Twisted Nerve Records: Badly Drawn Boy, Andy Votel, and Alfie. I’d been in London for about a year, and it was so impossible to get anywhere. I met those guys from Manchester, and it felt like here was a possibility to go and actually be part of a scene. It was because of Manchester in the end that I actually made it happen.
How did you find living in Manchester compared to living in Berlin and elsewhere? You’re now living in Sicily, right?
I mean, if I wasn’t there for this music scene, well… it was a terrible place! Everything’s wrong with that place! Violent people, the food’s not great…
It’s cheap, though.
Yes, and that’s crucial.
How do you find that being in different places has affected your songwriting? Is it to do with the city itself, or the music scene there, or something else?
It’s different from place to place, really. All my life, I’ve been learning things about music. I remember Ian, the guitarist from Alfie, and we’d hang out at his place and he’d play me some music I didn’t know. He’d say, “Can you hear that?” and I’d think “Ah, that’s something.” When you meet different people and you see that they like something, you want to figure out why they like it so much.
You’re attracted to it because you don’t know what it is or why people like it?
It must have changed, because at some point, I was really against a lot of things. It’s easier now, I’m much more into things that I don’t know.
Is there one record which has been your “Holy Grail” over the years?
No. The funny thing is that when I listen to the records that used to be a Holy Grail now, I think, “Eurgh, that doesn’t sound so good, does it.” It changes all the time. The only things that really stick with you are the records you listen to as a teenager, like Wish You Were Here and Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd. I mean, there is still nobody making these kind of records, there will never be anything like that ever again.
What do you like about them most?
I like the pretentiousness of it all; “Let’s just make a huge opera.”
Why’d you choose Hjálmar to work on your record as your backing band, and how did they influence your songwriting?
I make a lot of song ideas, and if I played them all on an acoustic guitar they might sound a bit like the old records. The idea is to try to move these sounds in different directions than how I would have done it 10 years ago, just so that they have a different taste.
Hjálmar is an Icelandic reggae outfit, right?
Yes, their own band is pretty much a kind of reggae music.
Is reggae an influence on your own work?
There was a time in my life when I would have said that I don’t like reggae. But then I remember a random night in my hometown when I was listening to a DJ play loads of actually good stuff, and I thought to myself “I think I was wrong.” It’s just that there’s so much crap pop-reggae that we’ve heard in the last 20 years on the radio without any subtlety. It’s too clean and there’s nothing exciting about it. With this band, anyway, they’re not religiously into reggae. They don’t live a “reggae lifestyle.”
Did your time in Berlin inspire you to experiment with using electronics? What made you attracted to electronics, and what made you move away from it?
Well, I started when I met the guys from Royksopp and I found that my voice really gelled with electronic music. I made a solo record in 2002, worked with many different producers from around the world. Then I tried to tour it live, and it always seemed very complicated. You can’t “play” it, so you record it, and it’s very hard to recreate without bringing a huge amount of equipment with you on tour. Ultimately, it’s not very exciting, because people don’t see what you do—you’re moving a button. In the end, I couldn’t imagine working with a kind of music where the live show was just a presentation of what we’d been doing in the studio. I want to be in a live situation where right here, right now, magic can happen, new music can be created. This is the problem with electronic music: It’s fucking boring to see live! No one’s able to visualize what the musicians are doing, there’s nothing to look at.
So you don’t think you’ll ever return to that way of music making?
If I did, I wouldn’t want to do a live version, and that’s where you make money, so I’d lose money on the record. Maybe I could crowdfund it.
Erlend Øye will appear at the Electronic Beats festival in Zagreb on November 8. Buy tickets here.