Entertainment & Arts

A Massive Attack of music in Croatia

Massive Attack
Image caption Massive Attack like the enthusiasm of the Croatian crowd

As the popularity of Croatia as a holiday destination has rocketed, the country has fast become a vibrant destination for European festival-goers.

Now a hot spot for big name acts too, Massive Attack's Robert '3D' Del Naja told the BBC it's because: "It's a different mentality. You get a very passionate audience in Eastern Europe."

Its biggest event, the T-Mobile INmusic festival in Zagreb, culminated on Wednesday with show-stopping performances from The Flaming Lips and Massive Attack.

Only 15 years ago, Croatia was in the midst of a war fighting for its independence, but with the help of Garden, Outlook, Soundwave and more, the picture now is of a blossoming festival market.

In the festival context, any social tensions were non-existent and 3D said the extremely respectful crowds are a product of the country's troubled past and a deficit of live music events up until around six years ago.

"Because they've had the experience of being in that situation, unlike the generations of kids we've got now in England and western Europe who haven't been in a war time, there's an appreciation to music which is very different I think, because people have memories of what it was like not so long ago."

No strangers to Zagreb, the Bristol trip-hop pioneers played their own headline show here last year and returned with long-time collaborators Horace Andy and Martina Topley Bird in tow.

Ever-growing

Since its conception five years ago Kraftwerk, N.E.R.D, Lily Allen and Sonic Youth have graced the INmusic stage.

Image caption INmusic now attracts big name acts like Lily Allen

More than ever, it's attracting big headline acts with Billy Idol, Alice In Chains, LCD Soundsystem and The Flaming Lips among the 2010 torchbearers.

"I don't think this festival is very old but we've heard people talking about it," explained Lips singer Wayne Coyne. "I like these sorts of things. It's out in the woods and feels like you're more free.

"You don't feel as though it's a big corporation coming in to sell you products."

With their next stop, Glastonbury this weekend, the psychedelic rock band from Oklahoma made no attempt at stripping things back and came complete with confetti canons, giant balloons, smoke machines and a clan of costumed dancers.

Coyne even brought along what he called his "space bubble", beginning the show by walking on top of the crowd in a giant rubber balloon.

Cultural alternative

As large-scale European festivals such as Benicassim, Exit and Roskilde continue to grow in popularity, it's not uncommon now for British music lovers to head to sunnier climes to consume music - and the location is another of INmusic's main draws.

Roughly 20,000 people per day descend on the compact site, which is situated around the attractive man-made Lake Jarun, just a few tram stops from Zagreb's city centre.

Image caption Del Naja describes the crowd as "passionate"

All the action takes place across three nights from 5pm, giving punters who have travelled from further afield the opportunity to explore Croatia's cosmopolitan Capital.

And with the option of a six-day camping pass, festival-goers can easily indulge themselves on the festival site, partaking in water sports, rollerblading, biking, hiking or soaking up the cafe culture.

Tourism makes up 22% of Croatia's GDP so big events like the INmusic festival are hugely beneficial to the local economy while there is a recession on. But despite the ticket price tag of just £35, it still remains fairly un-trodden ground by UK festival fans.

No doubt as Croatia's music scene continues to evolve, this gem of a festival will expand further, but in its current state, Lips' showman Wayne Coyne summed up the experience perfectly when he said: "It's simply bands, you and your friends, and trees, and it feels like it's about music and ideas in this little community."

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