Love International 2016 Review

Original Review on Watch The Hype

This summer marked the first year of Love International – the spiritual successor to the much-adorned Garden Festival that was held between 29th June – 6th July in Croatia this year. Dave Harvey and Tom Paine decided to keep the festival spirit going under the new fangled ‘Love International’ get-up, having previously worked the bookings alongside The Garden’s founder, Nick Colgan.

Hidden in the South Western fringe of the Croatian coast, it may still be off the radar in most of the festival-goers calendars but with such dedication to stellar electronic music the team managed to put together a roster stocked full of big names; with the likes of Motor City Drum Ensemble, Dixon and Ben UFO taking the realms across a mixture of stages throughout the week.

The festival is pushed to the outer limits of Croatia, around 90 km from the popular Split airport. While the location demands the need for a 2-hour coach journey on arrival, the small but dedicated crowd that head to the Dalmatian coastline really add to the intimacy and experimentalism that make Love International so special.

Formerly a holiday camp for the Croatian military, the festival site sits adjacent to the small fishing village of Tisno. Situated only five minutes away from the festival, there was an energy and buzz that engrossed the town. The old harbour has a captivating charm, blessed with a trusty selection of cheap restaurants all hosting picture-perfect views of the surroundings. Costing next to nothing, it’s the ideal place to drink as you watch the sun go down, or indulge in a fresh fish or meat platter.

The Beach Bar at Love International 2016
The Beach Bar at Love International © Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (

The resort itself is a true slice of unexposed paradise. The Garden has three open-air dance stages that host the acts and DJs – the Main Stage, Beach Bar and Olive Grove. All three stages were in effortless reach of one another but never clashed sound-wise. The Main Stage, based nearest the entrance to the festival, was relatively plain. The other two, however, were a completely different story. The Olive Grove was situated under a canopy of colour and had all the decorative hallmarks of a psychedelic stage. Only a hundred metres away, The Beach Bar looked out over the bay and its impressive setup was perfect for rounding things off for the night as the music came to a close. Spread around a private beach enclosed by the wilderness, there really is no place else like it.

The Olive Grove Stage at Love International 2016
The Olive Grove Stage © Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (

During the day the vibe is chilled-out and sluggish. Anyone who’s been there before will be quick to tell you it’s way too hot to do much of anything other than lounge by the sea with a cocktail in hand. Fortunately the stages were bustling by the evening, with the Olive Grove serving as a great starting point for music lovers gathering under the trees.

Thursday saw the festival proper commence, and along with a considerable in-flow of punters The Garden resort started to piece together. Rhythm Section got things off to a leisurely start on the Olive Grove stage with real substance. Stirring up the crowd, Bradley Zero bounced his way through a stack of records and gave a shining example of how daytime sets should be performed.

One portion of the festival line-up takes place on either The Argonaughty or The Martina; two stylish party boats that dock by the main bar area during the day. Following on from the sun-kissed selections the evening before, the Ransom Note versus Dance Tunnel boat party on Friday afternoon had everyone moving from the get go. As we circled the nearby deserted islands, Tama Sumo, Dan Beaumont and Francis Inferno Orchestra crafted a largely disco-focused four hours of music. With an upper deck and tickets kept to a restricted number there was plenty of room to let loose. Heading back to the bay, Tama Sumo closed off the party in emphatic style with Gregory Porter’s – “1960 What? (Opolop Kick Bass Rerub)” acting as the perfect climax to a day of smooth sailing.

The Argonaughty Boat Party at Love International 2016
The Argonaughty Boat Party at Love International 2016 © Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (

Love International hit its stride on the Saturday, when early in the afternoon crowds gathered by the seafront to take part in an exclusive lilo party. It was an opportunity too good to miss as Eats Everything, Luke Solomon and Lukas served up a fine selection of relaxing summer jams for eight consecutive hours. The shallow water was awash with inflatables to cater for every need and it became an effort to even consider swimming ashore, with those on dry land called upon to deliver the requests from their partying peers.

The Garden Resort at Love International 2016
The Garden Resort © Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (

Hunee’s closing set later in the evening was an energetic mix of disco-tinged house and quickly became the basis of many an after-party conversation. The crowd were eagerly cheering for one more as Risque’s – “Starlight” worked the sound system to perfection.

The venue for the after-party was Barbarellas, a club so ideal that when the last song finished at around 2am you couldn’t help but feel like things were just getting started. Fledgling partygoers reaped the benefits of the intimate atmosphere and positioned by the sea with a completely open-air roof there’s a real purity about it.

Ben UFO and Craig Richard’s laid down a thumping mix of hard techno on Sunday night for the Just Jack takeover. Although the speakers at Barbarellas were a little quiet at times, such an unexpected onslaught gave us no choice other than to dance the duration of the night. Unconcerned with any urge to play it safe, the performance was the stand-out set of the festival and had everyone hooting on the dance floor until sunrise.

The Sunset Sessions in the early hours of the morning provided a mellow soundtrack as the sun came up over the horizon by the Beach Bar. Despite the massive amount of sleep deprivation, the crowd at Barbarellas regularly ventured back here to continue the party. Throughout the duration of the festival there was never a lack of spirit, with everyone left longing for more as they headed to bed with their heads held high.

The Sunrise Sessions at Love International 2016
The Sunrise Sessions © Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (

With the dust now settled and the astounding range of quality music digested, the lasting impression of the festival is one of pure achievement. Even though it was the first year under new ownership, the charm and intimacy of it’s predecessor remains firmly intact and there are few places in the world that can provide as many magic moments as Love International. Here’s hoping that Team Love keep on trucking for years to come.

Original Review on Watch The Hype

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