Scroll to the bottom for a playlist of 200 track IDs.
In its sixth year, Dimensions Festival, the little sibling of bass-heavy Outlook Festival has secured itself alongside Dekmantel as one of the heavyweight electronic music festivals to – as a fellow journalist so appealingly quipped – “provide 4/4 to twentysomethings in expensive caps and Trilogy Tapes T-shirts”. While I was wearing an Honest Jon’s t-shirt for much of Dimensions Festival, I can assure people I have listened to enough records and did well enough in music class to say that their lineup reaches far beyond that common time signature and the steady house beat that comes with it.
While the stormy weather may have caught everyone by surprise the monolithic lineup still stood strong over the four days, championed by the audience who were there to make the most of it despite the odds (and my lack of proper shoes). The variety boasted throughout the weekend ensured multiple tastes, all provided on systems where you can actually hear them properly.
The Beach stage was many peoples’ first encounter of the festial. Accommodating the croatian sunshine and rustling waters we at Stamp the Wax played host to Henry Wu’s Kamaal Williams, DJ Okapi, Khruangbin and Donna Leak on the Thursday while an impressive list of live acts likeas Amp Fiddler, Chui, Moses Boyd and Dam Funk soon followed throughout the week. DJ sets were well covered coasting from Leeds party makers Cosmic Slop to Norwegian hero Oyvind Morken, and dampened Antal and finishing on a disco high note from Sadar Bahar. One particular fond memory was witnessing the power of MJ Cole’s ‘Sincere’ as a more or less empty dance floor turned into a stampede within 20 seconds of it filling the air.
The Clearing, the largest and most triangular stage, played host to Floating Points’ live show, Dam Funk with an RnB and disco laden sing along, Parris Mitchell with chicago ghetto classics, Jeff Mills playing ‘The Bells’ (twice) & Aux 88, the Detroit electro wizards who i more or less went to the festival to go see and yet missed due to bleeding feet. The Moat played host to the more techno dominant sounds of the festival with Hessle Audio Crew playing alongside Helena Hauff starting off the week, with Conforce, Luke Hess, A Made Up Sound and Mike Dehnert during the remainder.
The Void played host to a more varied lineup, from Rhythm and Sound favourite Paul St Hilaire and Rhauder’s dub influenced live set, Maurice Fulton’s sombre to chaotic percussive workout and ://about blank resident Resom’s stripped back and minimal soundscapes. Tama Sumo & Lakuti closed the stage (and the festival) blending techno and jazz with mind-bending dexterity. Mungo’s Hi-Fi catered to the more bass heavy spectrum featuring Goldie, Randall & Bailey in pure metalheadz celebration, Kode 9, Alix Perez and Equinoxx. The Stables went from the moody atmospheres of Andy Stott and Demdike Stare, booming 808s of Dopplereffekt & Radioactive Man to the more upbeat notions of Sassy J, Antal and Sadar Bahar and a beats workout from MNDSGN.
The slanted dancefloor of the Garden Stage provided the dare i say more ‘fun’ side of the festival for me. This is more than likely because it felt like the stage where they gave DJs more freedom given the longevity of the sets. Given the trust to work the dance floor however for extended periods of time were Mister Saturday Night, a marathon set from Theo Parrish, 3 hours respectively for the ever eccentric Mr Ties and then Danny Krivit on Sunday, accompanied after Gilles Peterson and Thris Tian.
For a more in-depth look, here are six standout sets from the weekend.
Part of the opening concert held in a breathtaking Roman Ampitheater constructed in 27BC, Grace Jones, following Yussef Kamaal and Moses Boyd, took to the stage fashionably late but with an aura about her that’s hard to explain. The sexuality, the oozing of confidence and, excuse the pun, grace, creates the kind of performance that seems physically impossible for a 69 year old. Her body, over clad and painted, transformed and sheared off throughout each song, hula hooping her way through classics like ‘Private Life’ and ‘Slave to the Rhythm’, accompanied by a talented band and muscular pole dancer. There are few artists that have the showmanship Grace Jones does and the audience let her know just as much as she already does.
Eight hours of Theo Parrish. Eight Hours. Eight hours is how long I go to work for. It is timeframe most DJs would dread playing. Not only do you need stamina, you need the charisma and the record collection interesting enough to engage and appeal to an audience of people for that long. If there’s one DJ we all trust enough to pull it off, it was Theo, who took over The Garden on Saturday. Whisking through disco, nasty acid that’ll break Shazam, beatdown, house, funk, soul, RnB and just about everything in between, Theo’s technical ability shone through just as much as his musical knowledge. He dropped the tempo in half as easily as the flick of a switch then went back to blending songs for marathon minutes on end. While I left feeling like wanting to give up on DJing completely, I still felt left inspired for a long time to come.
Boat Parties are one of the main features of Dimensions Festival, with six leaving the shores each day providing a unique experience put on by each boats organiser. DDS (Demdike Stare) hosted their own with Equinoxx on the same freshly repaired boat from the rained on Stamp the Wax Boat / Waterfall party the previous night, with the equipment and speakers now adorned in more water-resistant attire. While some may think Demdike Stare on a boat party seems a bit more appropriate going down the river Hades than the Adriatic Sea, people seem to forget they’re also some of the most serious collectors in the game. Equinoxx’s set was some of the most fun I had at the festival, bouncing between tribal soaked 2 step, dancehall and – to my 17-year-old self’s joy – a bit of bassline. While Demdike’s set was cut short by the rain, the limbo party that spontaneously started downstairs on deck provided the entertainment until the boat safely arrived back at shore.
A strong aspect of Dimensions musical ethos is rooted in booking legendary US pioneers, be it Larry Heard last year or Underground Resistance the year prior. These performances often draw the biggest crowds of the whole weekend and Aux88’s headline slot was no different. Despite the heavy rain all weekend, people were clamouring to get a glimpse of the electro legends, who took to the stage donning orange jumpsuits and glowing neon Auxx 88 badges. Storming into a selection of Detroit classics they played renditions of ‘Direct Drive’ and ‘Break it Down’ amongst other booty shaking numbers. Mixing up the party with a few hands in the air 4-to-the-floor UR tracks, they weren’t deterred by the heavy rain. Repeatedly getting on the mic to whip the soaking crowd into a frenzy in the fashion of hip-hop superstars, they showed everyone that Detroit really are still the kings of techno. [Words by Alex Theodossiadis]
DJ Okapi and Esa
When Dimensions announced their annual run of boat parties, Rush Hour’s stuck out as one cruise we couldn’t miss. The boat set sail on Thursday afternoon – the most sun filled day of the festival – helmed by head honcho Antal and backed up by South African natives, DJ Okapi and Esa. Although the pairing weren’t playing together, both sets warranted an honorary mention. As the boat sailed off into the Adriatic, Okapi set the scene with joyful pop rhythms from his homeland. The Johannesburg native and recent Diggers Directory guest has been a pioneer in the resurgence of this buoyant synthesized South African sound and, under the hot rays of the Croatian sun, it supplied the perfect soundtrack for the open waters. After saluting his shipmate for the last hour, Esa stepped up to the plate armed with a smile and a bag full of grooves. Carrying through the same sun-drenched vibes Okapi had kick-started, he bounced enthusiastically behind the decks which only spurred attendees on more. When he wrapped up with the roaring bass and staggering vocals of ‘Blast’ from his own release on Dekmantel, the boat rocked under the weight of jumping feet and rapturous applause. [Words by Rosie Cain]
While plenty of festivals support up-and-coming talent, Dimensions goes one step further. Beyond being a three-pixel font in the bottom of a line-up poster, they have recognised the DJs doing exciting things in their respective cities by giving them some of the most sought after sets at the festival. Many names in their newly-founded DJ Directory featured strongly in the programming of The Ballroom (above), a 50 cap cylinder of a stage cut into the brickwork of Fort Punta Christo. From italo weirdness, afrobeat and electro, sets from Will Lister, Alex T, Kay Suzuki, ATLAS, Champagne Funk, Heels & Souls, Sean OD and Sam Hall were among the enviable DJs playing to continuously packed out crowd, with one person in particular going as far to tell me they hadn’t been to another stage. They were some of the most accomplished across the whole weekend, possessing the kind of pedigree that justifies inclusion on some of the festival’s bigger stages in future years.
Listen to our playlist of 200 musical moments from the festival. Thanks to the ID crew: Jeremy, ATLAS, Champagne Funk, Alex T, Sean OD, Leanne Wright, Will Edge, Will Lister, Heels & Souls