Travel: Unknown Festival
By Joe Hand
Whether it’s Glastonbury, Dimensions or Shambala, festivals are a staple of many a student’s summer. This year, I chose Unknown, a house and techno festival in the Croatian beach town of Rovinj. (As you all know, house and techno is so in right now.) Why Unknown? I’d like to think that I wasn’t just jumping on the ‘deep house’/ ‘future [insert any genre here]’ bandwagon. This was Unknown’s first year, and going to the first of anything is usually fun – bar first dentist appointments and first days of school.
The first thing I thought when arriving in Rovinj was that there was a lot of fake tan, snapbacks and bicep tattoos, as if lots of edgy students, a few hipsters and the odd meathead had been transported to idyllic Croatia. But this was just a first impression; once I got chatting to fellow festival-goers, I realised that most people were just there to have fun and enjoy the music. And there was certainly plenty of music to enjoy, with an amazing line up curated by our fellow Mancunians from the Warehouse Project. My personal highlights included Richie Hawtin, Kerri Chandler and Jackmaster.
Although the organisers delivered on the music front, this music festival is undoubtedly a big business, a long way from the hippie roots of festivals like Shambala and Glastonbury. Punters had to book accommodation through the Unknown website, a shrewd system which meant the festival could dictate the price of accommodation. As far as I know this is a European festival first. Although the camping was reasonably priced, many of the villas and apartments were over what you’d expect to pay in Croatia.
My lasting impressions of Unknown will be great music, so-edgy-it-hurts students, and my poor bank balance at the end of it. All in all I had a great time, but I don’t know if it was so great that I’ll be back again. As a country Croatia is beautiful, and the people are very friendly. However, with Outlook, Dimensions, Hideout and Unknown all located in Croatia, I get the feeling that its festival market is at saturation point. This year I tried something new. Next year, I’m going to try something different: for summer 2014, all roads lead to Sonar in Barcelona. Many have told me it’s the best festival around, so watch this space…