SUNceBEAT 7 in Croatia this year was quite simply outstanding! Everyone who attended made friends for life, enjoyed such a deep cosmic experience and were elevated by the remarkable musicianship that highlights Suncebeat is a gem in the Dalmatian Coast. Watching Louie Vega, to a packed Main Stage on Sunday night followed by the sunrise, was an unforgettable memory shared with all of the Suncebeat fun loving, unity conscious family, who always embraces the spirit of tolerance and togetherness.
Things change, that's one thing we can rely on and over the last 6 years, the site in Croatia moved from Petrcane to Tisno, and Southport Weekender has gone! I chatted to many at Suncebeat 7, who were visiting Croatia for the first time and had never been to Southport Weekender, this was quite poignant to me, highlighting that the past is the past, move on! It doesn't really matter what was, because Suncebeat 7 is acclimation of all that work. It was magical, the music was great, the vibes fabulous, fantastic atmosphere, and that's what counts now.
Croatia is beautiful! It has a pristine vibration, gorgeous clean sea, joyous sunshine, great food and a truly accommodating local community. Suncebeat certainly stands out as something quite different to the other festivals happening in Croatia, it has a mature and discerning crowd and the line-up speaks for itself. Artists such as DJ Jazzy Jeff, Louie Vega, Derrick Carter, Terry Hunter, Rich Medina, Mike Dunn, Henrik Schwarz, Osulande, Atjazz, Grant Nelson and for many a big draw this year Black Coffee, all on the line up. Suncebeat 7 is an international festival, with people from every continent attending and holding 3000 people this year (the biggest so far), making it intimate enough to make close connections and have real conversations.
Arriving on Wednesday hearing Ben Brophy, Gavin Kendrick, Terry Jones and Ronnie Herel was an excellent way to enter this year. It's important to remember the contributions that the residents and Southport Weekender family create always seem to fill the gap musically, playing tunes you haven't heard for ages and keeps the Southport Weekender ethos alive and well!
The lighting and sound quality was exceptional! The site at Tisno was perfect for Suncebeat 7 with a Beach Bar, Main Stage and the Olive Grove, where I saw some great performances, notably Osunlade presents the Yoruba Sessions, featuring Rafael Moraes, Mike Steva, Toto Chiavetta, and also Atjazz's set on Sunday which celebrated 20 years of Atjazz - the addition of some live bass was great to see too!
There's food on site and direct access to the ocean if you fancy a swim! It's beautiful and incredibly picturesque. It's great that people go for a week, to make a holiday of it as you can also easily go for something nice to eat at a restaurant off site, or even visit the stunning national parks.
Barbarella's was the club space at the festival, starting at 12am going on till 6am, a short taxi away. There was some fantastic gigs on here with awesome sound quality. Friday night's 'Unfinished Business' featuring Detroit Swindle, Joey Negro, Grant Nelson and Neil Pierce was off the hook! They played some great classic dance tracks all mixed seamlessly. Saturday night's 'We Are One' was a fantastic night too. Steve Butler starting, to Osunlade, then Terry Hunter and finishing with Black Coffee which all created a sublime experience. The spirt of Africa and the tribal rhythms of dance took it to another level! Amazing!
The boat parties are what makes Suncebeat so good! Dancing on a boat to some of the best DJ's in the world on the Adriatic Sea is heavenly! Two boats on offer with the Martina and the original Agronaughty means everyone can have a chance to experience this. I went on 'Chicago's Chosen Few Picnic Boat Party' that was awesome and featured a lovely excursion to a restaurant to eat too! Natasha 'Kitty Katt' Probert, Sadar Bahaar, Mike Dunn and Terry Hunter played smooth sets. It was great to see 'Kitty' on the boat, in fact, it was great to see so many female DJ's on the line up this year. I really enjoyed Sam Divine's set and seeing Anane Vega smash the Beach Bar on Monday certainly stood out!
'The Farewell Boat Party' was not to miss! Starting with the James Morgan and leading to resident Gavin Kendrick, who played a truly sophisticated and musically experienced set, build up the boat perfectly for the legend that is Ronnie Herel who played a set of bangers that reminded everyone of great times gone by. Rich Medina headlined the boat playing a smooth, deep house set that had integrity and passion woven throughout. His ode to everyone on the boat was heart warming and honest, with the closing words "Kill them with kindness." There were many memories on boat parties this year to be treasured.
The influence of Afro House was big this year, of course Black Coffee was a main draw for many attending with his progressive and effortless DJ style, as well as DJ Afrozila, who fortunately played on the Main Stage Sunday night with Louie Vega, where due to technical issues at Barbarella's meant their set happened on site. This was lucky indeed.
For me, Rich Medina took the crown this year, his set revealed true craftsmanship and originality, merging a fusion of hip hop and deep influences of dance music, to create something unique. This was no fluke and required practise and commitment for it to be so standout. DJ Jazzy Jeff also brought his unique DJ style and love of music to the audience. It was great to see DJ Bigger, Lil Stevie and always a pleasure to catch up with Andy Davies! Other great sets from Prosumer, Mile Servito, Luis Radio, Mark Stone, Jeremy Underground, Black Madonna, Opolopo, Fish Go Deep, Manoo, Sean Mccabe, David Bailey, Antal, Hunee, Mo Colours, Auntie Flo, Henry Wu, Gordon Mac, Al Dobson Jr and Aluku Rebels are safely etched in the memories of the Suncebeat 7 family! Respect!
It was great getting to know many of the artists onsite, as the boundaries of separation are genuinely eroded at Suncebeat, due to the profound appreciation experienced. So many people of all faiths, backgrounds, gender and ages, can lose their inhibitions for a moment, free from the stress, conditioning and expectation of modern life, and can connect on a heart level.
Since my last visit to the festival it has developed and even though it's found its perfect home, it's still able to grow. It would be awesome to see the Main Stage used more, especially with live music and hopefully we will see more of that as things progress.
On a final note, Suncebeat 7 is far more than just a music festival; it's a magical place that offers a loving, cosmic and deep experience that allows visitors to let ones hair down from all the stress of the modern world! Suncebeat 7, much love and gratitude.
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