29 - 6 July
Love International is as idyllic as festivals get. Yet, there is a seamlessness flowing through its programming across seven days that makes it slightly disingenuous to even call it a festival.
It doesn’t carry the usual facets I’d associate with a festival. Love International is hedonistic, but comfortable, with its gorgeous surroundings and vivacious atmosphere soothing the usual morning-after woes. Shaking off consumption, tiredness or even the odd errant thought is unbelievably easy. In fact, the whole action of partying has many of its more unsavoury outcomes removed by the sun, the sounds and the setting – probably the three things that any outdoor event strives to perfect or attain.
For those unversed, Love International is the fresh incarnation of the esteemed and pioneering festival Garden. In the same location – the fishing town of Tisno on the Dalmation coastline – Garden ran for 10 years and garnered an incredibly loyal following while also managing to refresh its audience year on year. Its sign off last year with DJ Harvey closing out final night was the perfect curtain call, rolling in a new era for the event. The involvement of Bristol-based events production crew Team Love gradually evolved over the final years of Garden. Their commitment to continuing the rich legacy with Love International was documented in our video last year that showcased the event being handed over to the new promoters.
Based on the first edition of Love International, its future is in perfectly safe hands. With music running the best part of 18 hours a day and sometimes longer, it’s almost impossible to make the case that your musical experience was definitive of the festival, but there were some stand out performances this year. Discodromo’s Cocktail d’amore party in the newly re-imagined Olive Grove stage was a perfectly pitched mix of modern Italo and house bangers from two of the most underrated figures in modern electronic music. Hunee’s no-bullshit set on the Beach Stage was also a highlight, mixing classic disco cuts with the odd-banger… and Phil Collins.
Similarly, the Crack Magazine-hosted boat party with Ben UFO was honestly amongst the most enjoyable four hours of partying I’ve ever experienced (with one of the festival’s more senior organisational members describing it as “the best boat party [they’ve] ever been on”, who are we to judge?) It’s possible that Ben UFO might have been the first person to be granted a rewind at Garden/Love International courtesy of MD X-Spress’ God Made Me Phunky. The subsequent foray to Barbarellas (the offsite nightclub of Garden) to watch the aforementioned Ben DJ alongside Craig Richards under the stars was picture perfect. It was evident that they are two of the most studious protagonists in the game, with Midland’s Final Credits – arguably the tune of the weekend if not the summer – doing the damage in the final stages.
Khruangbin’s sunrise session in the woodland area was, from an aesthetic point of view, the festival’s peak. Unfurling their swooning low-slung guitar jams at 9am to around 100 people, it was a beautiful contrast from the frenetic club atmosphere. A much-appreciated change of pace, it was another reason that staying up all-night at Love International is somewhat easier than most other festivals. It was a stunning sixty minutes of mood-enhancing music. The Futureboogie party at Barbarellas also proved a hit, with Felix Dickinson continuing to affirm his rising status with a set that managed to push hard but also retain groove, while mainstays Dave Harvey and Christophe provided a similar mantra, with Late Nite Tuff Guy’s ecstatic I Get Deeper getting a special reaction.
After the highs of Glastonbury and the lows of Brexit, coming to a quaint, sun-soaked stretch of Croatian coastline was a much-needed chaos-free haven. With this year’s slightly younger audience, and word about the festival set to reach new ears in time for next year, Love International isn’t going anywhere. While moving to some of the finest across-the-spectrum selectors and reconnecting with friends in and around some of most ludicrously picturesque scenery a music event could offer, you’re constantly reminded why this is one of the most beloved events in electronic music’s calendar.