Low End Lowlife Presents: Outlook 2011 - Day 3 & 4

After another trouser sheddingly hot day spent floating in the Adriatic Ocean, with my liver capacity shrinking and shares in Neuf Du Pap '86 blossoming, it was time to return to the stages for another evening of overcrowded, uncoordinated dancing, this time with a particularly hip-hop flavour.

Sep 3rd, 2011 at Fort Punta Christo, Croatia / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife Presents: Outlook 2011 - Day 3 & 4 DAY 3

First out onstage was UK hip-hop grafter Jehst , assisted by long-time collaborator Micall Parknsun, a live band complete with backing vocalists, and DJ Jazz T expertly navigating the decks. On a definite high off the back of the release of his latest album Dragon Of An Ordinary Family and decked out in a blue Superman tee reflecting the artwork of the record (Parknsun could also be seen to be donning a red fitted shirt emblazoned with Superman logo) the performance was certainly a full package. Opening with 'Starting Over' and sliding straight into the bass heavy bounce of 'Hydroblowback' gave the more organic sound of the live band, drums in particular, and the Main Stage's mammoth sound system a chance to show off both their respective ranges in full. Throughout there was tight synchronisation from all involved (especially taking into account it was only their second show as a touring outfit) with Jehst picking his way through tunes both old and new, Parknsun given time to showboat with 'So What' from his first album and Jazz T cutting up some Public Enemy to rapturous response. Things were settled down a little with an appropriately chilled out rendition of 'Camberwell Carrots' and then the energy was promptly racked up a notch with the encore for Jehst's almost terrifyingly accurate track 'England', a bold choice for a final song at a summer festival, but a gamble that appeared to pay off as the crowd joined in on the embittered refrain of 'I still got love for the place where I'm livin' but right now there ain't nothing great about Britain'. In fact the only true negative to come from this particular set was I spilt my double gin & tonic down the back of small Kiwi lady. What's that phrase about omelettes and eggs again?

Whilst picking up numerous slaps to the face (in a rare moment of diplomacy I decided to call the pint sized Kiwi lady a hobbit) and a fresh G&T, Pharoah Monch took to the stage, assisted on decks by long time master DJ Boogie Blind of X-Ecutioners, to begin what sadly became a set slightly less than the sum of its nigh-on legendary parts. The dropping of Monch's classic track 'Simon Says' was met with the expected mad response, only for it to be reloaded and then promptly mixed into another track, which was something of a shame, as the track in full is always a guaranteed winner. Things picked up again however when Monch launched into some cuts from his newest LP W.A.R, 'Still Standing' & 'Shine' got the crowd back onside, the latter showing off the accuracy of Monch's delivery in particular. Old school vibes prevailed throughout the set with spins of classic Notorious B.I.G, Ice Cube and a genuine and heartfelt tribute to recently deceased Nate Dogg all meeting rapturous response, but herein lay the problem in my opinion; we came to see Pharaoh Monch perform. Not just another DJ. Thankfully however there was no cause to leave on a sour note, as 'Simon Says' made one last appearance for the close of the set, this time in full form, which more or less removed any ill feeling from the initial underplaying of it.

Foreign Beggars, another time tested UK hip-hop name, brought their particular brand of chaos to the Main Stage next and very nearly brought the house down en route through a set that encompassed everything from the old school bounce of debut album IAsylum Speakers, through drum & bass, the dubstep sounds found in the hyper 'Lines In Wax' and recent chart single 'Badman Riddim', which was potentially one of the most enthusiastically received tracks of the festival thus far. The sheer range of the groups selections truly did provide a bit of something for everyone, but without that any of that "look at me, I'm soooo open minded" bullshit Damon Albarn has been peddling since he ran out of genuinely clever songs, and was testament to a group that have managed to keep their sound developing over the years without ever feeling like they were bandwagon jumping. After a juicy slice of straight up hip-hop it was off to the Fort Arena stage (where sadly the unnecessarily shredding bass levels still hadn't been sorted on the soundsystem) to catch the psychedelic squelch almost exclusive to the Scotsman they call Rustie. It was herein the Fort system became a real problem. As much as it took out the high end on some of the Kode9 set the night before it completely obliterated the intricate and fidgety details of Rustie's own productions, which it is probably fair to say are the man's bread and butter in terms of production, and made an exciting set featuring a wealth of material from the man's forthcoming Glass Swords album much more of an effort to listen to than it should have been. As Hudson Mohawke, another fine Scottish export, took over the reigns to push the limits of sound production even further it became apparent that nobody had any intention of touching the levels on that sound, and regrettably, another crazed set of psychedelic hip-hop and abstract beats became little more than an earful of sonic mush and white noise. Again something of a shame. With heads pounding and ears ringing things were only ever going to get worse before they got better. However this time in a positive manner, as down at the Mainstage, packed to the proverbial rafters (it's an outdoor stage) Benga was firing up a headline set of nearly 3 hours which was guaranteed to have nothing if not sheer energy coursing throughout. From the drop it was every man for themselves, with Benga relentlessly spinning everything from his Magnetic Man works, through his newest track 'Acid Lie' to a wealth of classic dubstep, drum & bass, garage and even some left field rock and electro. With a soundsystem that was much more evenly set up it was truly a phenomenal sound, and to try and cover it in any deeper detail here would only serve to give a headache akin to what the Fort system was attempting to put out earlier in the day. Besides which it was about 6am and my beard was about 80 proof through misplaced rum... Again.

DAY 4

Day 4 had an early kick off, complete with a splash of variety in the form of a semi-conscious dip in the ocean and an alcoholic beverage of which the name escapes me. It was a cheeky little white number... Might have been an '86. No sooner had the fermented grape magic started to tickle my liver & kidneys in a way only weapons grade radiation really should it was off down to the docks for another boat trip, this time hosted by the peoples of Clash Magazine. It made a refreshing change for a Yarmouth lad to make a trip to the docks without the end result being to pick up a quad bike off a pikey or a pair of prostitutes so I was in a particularly chipper mood.

This mood was only further elevated by the selection of DJ's and spirits the boat had in store. First up was The Heatwave, specialists in dancehall, bashment and all things in between that link the musical friendship of Jamaica and the UK. With it being the last day of the festival the set had a particularly celebratory vibe, never veering too far into sounds too heavy for a Sunday afternoon sipping mojitos type of dancing session. The feel good vibes went through the roof as the crew ran through nearly every generation of dancehall music, taking in some classics such as the Mr's Marley & Dekker alongside some of the carnival vibe sounds of artists such as 80's toasting mystro Admiral Bailey to name but one. A medley of early noughties dancehall in the mould of tracks from Wayne Wonder's laidback summer number 'No Letting Go', Beenie Man's swaggering 'King Of The Dancehall' and a whole other load of songs that reminded me of throwing Fox's Glacier Mints at girls I fancied in Cliff Park High School's dinner hall was of particular enjoyment for me. In a rare moment of introspection, stood in my pants, I mused on how my levels of maturity really haven't come on the leaps and bounds they could have done in the eight or so years since those tracks initial release. C├ęst le vie. After more solid work in the same vein from Mr Mafro, plus some of the unique ragga-hip-hop laced MC'ing of Rubi Dan and Soom T, possibly on even finer form than her Disrupt set from night one, it was time for dub infused dubstep master RSD to take the role of skipper. Showing off a vast array of reggae and dubstep knowledge, carefully not forgetting to spin some of his own productions such as 'After All' and 'Pretty Bright Light' which bridge the gap between the two styles perfectly, there was, by the end of the trip, a genuine sense of community for all onboard, bolstered substantially by a peacocking competition with the passing Shogun Audio boat which featured both boat's sound systems getting cranked up a notch, numerous heckles and hand gestures and two particularly immature gentlemen baring their birth naked bottoms at the rival boat. One love indeed.

After the laidback loving feeling the Clash boat had instilled it was time to go and get my bowel smashed in once more at the Fort Stage with its ridiculous bass levels. Today however, the slightly over zealous sub sounds were working in favour, as it was time for Circus Records co-chief Doctor P to do his usual thing. With the relentless unloading of bruising track after track, taking in his own productions such as the electro tweaked 'Big Boss' and the 8-bit mischief of 'Gargoyle', alongside crowd pleasers such as label mate Flux Pavilion's 'Goldust' remix, it was an hour set bordering on sonic warfare, the sheer energy of which bolstered only further by the cranked system, which came to a cacophonic finish with P's perennial classic 'Sweet Shop' leaving more or less every male under 30 (aka everyone) shirtless, sweating and diving around in the arms of a probable stranger.. Something slightly akin to a modern club interpretation of the Oliver Reed starring 1969 picture 'Women In Love'. The aural assault and battery then continued for the next two or so hours with similarly themed sets from the always amusingly named Funtcase, whose 'Gorilla Flex' might have been the most brutal test on the threshold of lower intestine control all night, and Stenchman, who arguably got the raw deal by being the last of these particularly exhausting acts. The dusty trek down to the Dock Stage was then on to see Scuba bring a particularly unique blend of dubstep, juke, house and funky tracks including his more rhythmic up-tempo tunes such as the excellently presented 'On Deck' through to the much more spacious and atmospheric feel of tracks such as the blissfully melancholy 'So You Think You're Special'. Taking a step even deep into the cavernous recesses of leftfield bass sounds came the appearance of Shackleton, a man who seems to move, much like Burial, in a field completely of his own design. The set was comprised entirely of his own compositions and from the spare opening handclaps and reverb laden vocal clippings the crowd were hypnotized throughout with a hazy weave of the almost tribally rhythmic style the man has made entirely his own. To bring the night and the festival to a close it was left to the back to back performances of Pearson Sound and Addison Groove. Both parties played wonderfully varied sets, encompassing more or less anything you could qualify as sound, to a surprisingly packed out crowd (there was the distinct feeling that tired or otherwise no one was too excited about heading back to Blightly.) So, instead of rounding out this festival write up in a fluffy and elegiac prose of pretentious shite or other I claim to have mused as the morning sun rose for the last time over the picturesque bay of Pula blah blah blah (I barely even noticed it, let alone mused on it; I was faced) just finish reading this, stick some trousers on and pop over to any reputable record peddler and listen to the aptly titled Addison Groove cuts 'Work It' and 'Make 'Um Bounce'... Because I need to go shave.