Croatia's Pag Island is the home to more than a dozen annual summer festivals. Hideout, just two years old, is one of the largest. Held across Zcré Beach and the nearby town of Novalja on Pag's northern edge, the three-day event (six if you include the pre-parties) is now responsible for an influx of close to ten thousand foreigners upon an area populated by less than 4,000 full-time residents. With a music policy that seemed blatantly geared toward UK clubbers—artists from the tech house and UK bass realms clearly dominated the lineup—this year's event was, unsurprisingly, bigger than its debut in many respects, with more artists, venues and attendees spread across its duration.
What makes Hideout special, however, is its location. Novalja and its surrounding areas are nothing short of breathtaking. Despite being overwhelmingly occupied with tourists and all that accompanies their presence—questionable dining options, busy walkways and public drunkenness—Pag Island is well-equipped to handle everything the summer holidays throws their way, be it a busload of unruly teenagers from Essex or a grumpy middle aged couple from Munich.
It's because of this immense popularity among tourists that the island is able to handle the seemingly endless groups of Europeans that make their way to its shores. This, coupled with Hideout's apparent proficiency in all things organisational meant that everything required for success was in place long before Novalja's Cocomo club opened its doors for the festival's first welcome party on the evening of Tuesday, June 26th.
The following days saw over 100 acts touch down for slots, all of them being at one of the several clubs situated on Zcré Beach (Papaya, Aquarius and Kalypso, each with an outdoor section) or onboard one of the dozens of boat parties. Throughout the festival, the daytime events proved to be consistent highlights. Getting away mid-afternoon Friday-Sunday, they featured some of Hideout's most appealing lineups, with Jamie Jones, Richy Ahmed and Subb-an delivering sets to some of the weekend's most enthusiastic crowds.
For some, finding space to breathe amongst the madness at any festival is necessary, and these daytime events provided ample opportunity to do so. While some clubbers may cringe at the thought of a "pool party," even the most sceptical would have been won over in some respect—several bars were in operation, seating space was aplenty and the sound in each venue hosting the day parties (Papaya, Aquarius and Kalypso) was more than capable of servicing the tech house and drum & bass dished out throughout the afternoons and early evenings.
The main events, held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights across the beach and its adjacent clubs, was a little less relaxed. Friday saw Erol Alkan and a back-to-back appearance from Four Tet and Caribou rank as the night's most popular showings. Despite it being the festival's first night, the crowd's energy seemed to dip at around 3 AM. Soul Clap and Jackmaster were two acts charged with taking those still at the site through to the 6 AM finish, though the former's trademark stop-start style didn't sit so well, with Jackmaster's more uptempo selections and quick mixing proving to be a slightly more suitable early morning option.
The following night featured a more heavyweight lineup, with Claude VonStroke and Jamie Jones headlining Aquarius 1 and Papaya, respectively. That night, it became obvious that any act with a slightly left-of-centre approach to house, UK bass acts included, shone through—Eats Everything was a prime example. Providing one of the festival's highlight sets, the Bristol native ran though a string of bass-heavy house cuts, most of them his own edits littered with sampled vocals. His 90 minute set contrasted with the tech house and drum & bass that had dominated the preceding afternoon, and was exceptionally well received, with his enthusiastic presence behind the decks undoubtedly helping things along. Though Maya Jane Coles' more straightforward house slot was significantly more attended, the atmosphere in the room failed to match the one set by Eats Everything in the adjacent arena.
Depending on your daytime priorities, Hideout either meant spending in excess of 36 hours on the dance floor, or 36 hours on one of the hundreds of secluded beach spots in the towns surrounding Novalja. The majority opted for the former. This meant that, save for a few scarily full bus rides, transport worked wonderfully, enabling anyone in possession of a festival-specific pass to easily reach one of several villages around the island (Metajna and Madre, for example). Amazingly, despite the extremely packed town centre, Croatia's famed serenity was just a short journey away, and those that realised that were all the more better off.