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Croatia Diaries: Barrakud


bakkarud2.jpgTen Things We Loved About Barrakud Festival

There’s nothing conventional about the Italians. Nowhere is this more true than Barrakud Festival. This Italian run Napolitan-techno banger held on Zrce’s beach was a unique beast. It was longer, louder, smaller, more eccentric and more full on than rivals German Sonus or Brit Hideout. And, in it’s own, stubborn way, it was absolutely brilliant. Here are ten things we loved about Barrakud Festivai.

It’s Zrce’s Longest Festival 

At seven days long Barrakud was almost twice as long as Brit Banger Hideout. If you work out ticket price vs time that makes it one of the cheapest festivals in Croatia. Moreover the stretched out nature of the event meant that of the two venues used by Barrakud – storming megaclub Papaya and end-of-the-beach wood-n-trees underground venue Kalypso – only one was in use at any given point = consistently packed vibes, guaranteed night on night. This also meant the afterparties went on until 10am on five out of the seven days. Italian endurance.

Most Of It Happened In Kalypso. Which We Love

Kalypso is Zrce’s original venue. Starting life as an ice cream bar way back in ‘87 (that’s about 3 years before 60% of todays DJs were born) this summer has seen the 2,000 + capacity heavily upgraded with a two swimming pools, new bars, upgraded soundsystems and a weird kind of bamboo cage encircling the whole venue. It’s a wooden floors and dancefloor-trees are a world away from the concrete & strobes madness at the other end of Zrce, and seemed to fit the melodic techno vibes of Barrakud perfectly – which would explain why every single one of the til-lunchtime afterparties happened there.


This Was A Techno Odyssey

Today, festivals are like labels. There’s a smattering of household names that proudly cater to mainstream tastes, then there’s big messy, stringy web of festivals at varying levels of niche. Way, way down that line is Barrakud. This wasn’t so much a festival as an uncompromising, wonderfully Italian-stubborn display of straight up techno. Pool parties, boat parties, mainstages, afterparties – there was only one direction, one format, for seven driving days. An aquired taste, but if you’re of that mindset, you were in for a treat.

But Ellen Allien and Adam Beyer switched it up

The above still stands but genre ambassadors Ellen Allien and Adam Beyer did make like many an Italian politician and refuse to play straight – with similarly colourful and fascinating results. Adam Beyer kept it light, injecting a whole manner of tech house and house into his normally famously straight-arrow sets, bringing a somewhat churned, tropical feeling to the palm trees and sea breezes of Kalypso at 2 am. Meanwhile, Ellen Allien, at a 6am dawn seeking session at the same venue dropped in bass via My Nu Leng and even smatterings of breaks into her contribution. Amongst the driving theme of the whole festival, these unexpected surprises were well received by the fist pumping, refuse-to-flag crowd.  

Shaded Is Amazing 

US born, former punk rocker, former member of duo SHDWPLAY, Shaded, real name Skyler, was one of the stand out acts at this festival. His two hour live show consisted entirely of his own, unreleased tracks, some of which he’d finished that evening. The man himself looked visibly nervous on stage beforehand, smoking and knocking back hits of JD. There was little need, his set was a screaming, pounding, strobe filled display of techno madness, with no let-up for two hours. Keep your eye on this one.


Live Acts Are Growing

Shaded, Paul Kalkbrenner, HVOB were stand out live acts at this event, whilst Maceo Plex and many many more were incorporating keyboards, launchpads, extra sequences into their sets. Live acts, it would appear, are on the up – and judging by the crowd response, this is a trend that could stick for a while.

Kalkbrenner is a popstar now

Outside of straight up EDM, we’ve never seen a set like this: but credit to Kalkbrenner, it wasn’t cheesy, it was electric. His tracks played start to finish, with silence and cheering in between. The crowd chanted lyrics and cheered as soon as the bass dropped in the intros. Kalkbrenner himself ran around high fiving fans and frequently bowing between sets. If it sounds odd, trust us, you needed to be there. It was something else.

Carl Lio releases on Sneaks Label

Toronto’s favourite techno heavyweight has forthcoming releases on the label run by House Music’s Angriest. We’re surprised, and delighted – Sneak weighing his not inconsiderable, erm, personality, into techno is bound to shake things up a bit.


Pool Parties Were Actually Pool Parties

In fact, Barrakud called them After Beach parties but the concept was the same – daytime parties, around the pool, in superclub venues Papaya and Kalypso. However, unlike the utterly airtight every-square-inch-rammed nature of the Hideout parties, or the weird Bro-smashing-water-fest of the Ultra Europe pool parties, these hit the spot just right, busy but not rammed, thrumming techno, beautiful people lazily dancing and you could actually see the pool.

It’s Got A Greek Chapter Opening

We’ve heard the rumours. Croatia has scope for far, far more festivals. Promoters love it. We love it. However a number of people are now saying Greece could be the next international venue for big events – and already a number of pioneering promoters are heading out there. Amongst them is Barrakud Greece – that ran a kind of moving-beach-party series of day events this summer, in view of doing a full – scale festival in Greece next summer. We just sincerely hope the dates don’t clash. We’ve spent over a month on Zrce beach so far this summer. Barrakud was quite possibly our favourite week of all.  

Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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