Review: Love International 2017


Written by Simon Doherty
12 Wednesday 12th July 2017

“You, you and you – you’re not nearly colourful enough. Come with me,” a girl purposefully argued before leading three of us to a bar that had been repurposed as a space to cake people’s faces, limbs and bodies in thick layers of glitter. The area looked like the epicentre of an explosion at a factory specialising in mass producing glitter, face paint, wigs, garish headbands, feathers, moustaches, capes, masks and all manner of wacky props.

It was Friday afternoon at the second instalment of Love International in Croatia and we were onboard the Magic Door boat party. Once suitably jazzed-up we promptly returned to the deck of the famed Argonaughty session ship. Then came four hours of sailing around the Adriatic, copious amounts of Session Ale, a masterclass in funk, disco and house - plus vigorous, lively and determined efforts to move limbs in time to a beat.

For the people of Birmingham, Magic Door is more than a club night; it’s an extravaganza of vibrancy; an experiential journey. Aboard the Argonaughty, which was sailing at maximum capacity and still with room to dance, I was regaled with tales of slides used to exit the club night, a secret “magic door”, mazes and other immersive elements that make their night a unique experience. The atmosphere was an overwhelmingly positive one and the tunes – supplied by Magic Door regulars Deano Ferrino, Dukes of Hazard, Jit (Magic Door’s promoter) plus their guest Maxxi Soundsystem – did not disappoint in the slightest. Jesus, if this is what they can do with a boat in four hours then I’m going to be making my way up to Birmingham very soon.

Other highlights of the seven-day marathon for us included the return of psychedelic funk trio Khruangbin. After going down a treat next to the beach stage at a 6am sunrise session last year, this year they played at the end of the pier on Friday at sunset.

Their slow-motion sounds created an ambiance that complimented the picturesque surroundings exquisitely. We were surrounded by blue crystal clear sea whilst twangy wah-wah guitar, wistful tonal melodies and funk bass consumed the atmosphere. Life was good. It got everyone warmed up for the peak of the session - Friday to Monday - nicely.

More live music in the way of Harvey Sutherland and Bermuda, who smashed the Main Stage on Thursday night with groovy futuristic disco twists on some of his best tracks such as ‘New Paradise’ and ‘Priestess’. This was followed by a solid set by Tony Humphries who dropped crowd pleasers, such as Gregory Porter’s ‘1960 What?’ and Ezel feat. Tumelo’s Get Down (Ezel Bayacou Instrumental Mix)’, before closing the stage.

The Main Stage on Saturday was one to remember too, with Session Victim and Paranoid London proving to be good bookings. But the highlight of the night was without a doubt was Canadian powerhouse Heidi. Her vigorous jacking house set was something that many people won’t forget for a while.

My memory of Sunday was dominated by Crazy P’s live performance and Midland’s epic set on the Main Stage. And PBR Streetgang dropping a diverse offering (from the likes of The Cruve’s ‘Close to Me (Extended mix) to Voyage’s ‘Lady America’) sending the Beach Bar into a state of flux.

Other notable performances of the festival included The Black Madonna at Barbarella's, Moscoman & Lovefingers closing the Olive Grove on Monday and Young Marco closing the Beach Bar on Saturday. After his b2b set with Motor City Drum Ensemble last year (the highlight of that week for many) it was obvious that he’d been rebooked. And he didn’t disappoint this time either, playing the likes of Kaiden’s ‘Forever Young (Club Mix)’ and Tori Amos’s ‘Professional Widow (Armand Van Helden Start Trunk Mix)’. He’s got to be one of the most exciting DJs about right now.

On Monday morning at 6am, after what had already been a drastically heavy weekend by all accounts, the tempo temporarily dipped for the Reggae Version Sunrise Session with Felix Dickinson and Craig Richards. A bit of dub at that time was a nice touch; tunes like the Black Survivors’ ‘Every Knee Shall Bow’ and Scientist and Roots Radics’ ‘Dangerous Match One’ was the right vibe.

For the second year, Love International once again showed us why they are leading the way when it comes to throwing parties in Croatia. It’s no secret that the market is becoming more saturated by the year, but Team Love seem to be managing to keep the legacy of the Garden Festival alive whilst keeping it fresh and still attracting the right type of festival-goer to their annual disco oasis.

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