"Into the light, into the sun, free your mind…" Electric Elephant
Having loved 'the chair' and all that have sat in its incredible musical environs for many a year now, it had started to become a little embarrassing when people would say "have you been to Electric Elephant?" My usual retort was "Yeah it's always the festival I mean to go to." Not anymore…
With this firmly in mind, it pissing with rain for about two months solid round these parts and it conveniently becoming clear that a friend was driving to Croatia around the same time I hastily threw some shorts and questionable shirts into a bag and boarded the Renault Clio bound for Dover.
Seven countries and what can only be described as a pretty horrific, sleepless 24 hours non-stop drive - almost falling asleep at the wheel on numerous occasions - later, we arrived on the pebbled coastline of the Adriatic and northern Croatia. A comedy lack of running water in said friend's abode for a few nights and a drive South to Tisno ensued.
Having not been to the Petracane site which EE had originally called home on their intial forays into the sunshine, there was hushed trepidation amongst the Elephantine regulars we'd ingratiated ourselves into, upon arriving in the town. Would it live up to that of the last site? Arriving on said site - The Garden they call it - on the Wednesday at the tail end of Garden Festival - which took place the week previous - you're struck by the difference in age of the casualties from the week before, as all the
old fkkrs Elephantine masses begin to descend on the site... An incredible half-moon bay, a beach bar replete with a dancefloor backing onto the sea, a rather fine cider and a rather fine first night. Derrick (Carter) does Disco is something we decide to swerve out at Barbies. Not because we don't have unerring love for Derrick but simply because... well because we're fkkin knackered. Thursday sees R$N's levels of excitement build as promise of the A Love From Outer Space - you might have picked up we quite like them round these parts - boat party draws close. Now, I've been on a few boat parties in my time... quite a few in Barcelona as it goes - yeah get you mate. But this boat party does not cost €75 and the drinks don't cost €10 each. No, no this is Croatia. The boat costs 15 quid to get on and the beers are about 2 quid. Oh and did I mention the people? I didn't, well it just so happens you're stuck on a boat for 4 hours - Weatherall and Johnston not exceeding 122bpms - with a boat load of some of the nicest, most enthusiastic 'heads' you'll come across this side... well, of Manchester I suppose. And this really is the whole premise of Electric Elephant; it's simply one of the most friendly 'festivals' (loose sense of the word) I've come across where like-minded electronic music souls enjoy some incredible aural delights in the sun... and I just couldn't fault it.
Four highly inebriated hours later we dock onto dry land and navigate our way to Barbarellas, the open air club where the nocturnal disco excursions take place. Yes it's a 15 minute cab or bus journey but I've heard it's a hell of an improvement on the indoor 467 degree heat of Barabarellas on the previous site. Dancing amongst the trees as the sun comes up is never a bad feeling to behold.
I guess I should bang on about which DJ smashed it here and who smashed it there... I could do I guess but I'd be doing the festival a dis-service. Of course said DJ smashed it, they smashed it pretty much every day and night - notable highlights Trevor Jackson, Capracara and Nathan Gregory Wilkins at the beach bar, Ivan Smagghe, Ewan Pearson etc etc another great etc - but coupled with that I had a wonderful 5 days of sunshine, music and good people....
And I guess - I like using I guess, it gives you space to manoeuvre - herein lies the beauty of the Elephant... the older crowd the less obsessive nature that a younger audience has. Obsessive, not in the sense of spending hours in dusty basements leafing for disco/house/other obscurities but in the sense of 'shit, that person's playing I must run over and catch them.' attitude. This lot are too
old long in the tooth for that. Besides at EE you know they'll turn up playing on some stage or boat or other later on anyway...
Of course there's always the worry that banging on about it in elated and indeed elevated tones as I'm doing here endangers the festival of losing it's magic but then that raises many elitist arguments so I will just shut up, or rather not shut up and just say you should just go... incredible people, 90 quid for a week's festival, 15 quid for a boat party, 2 quid for a beer... that's certainly not Ibizan prices and not one you need to mortgage a kidney for.
Do go if you want: laidback sunshine vibes, a quality of crowd, Andrew Weatherall, Ewan Pearson, Ivan Smagghe, Sean Johnston and other playing a lot, watching the sun come up dancing outdoors.
Don't go if you want: Tech House - simple. Should I call this 'Underground House'?
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Photo by Heather Shuker