‘Football may not be coming home, but drum and bass is.’
These were the wise words of Degs - one of Hospital Records’ trusted vocalists and latest talents. His sentence perfectly epitomised the historic occasion Hospitality on The Beach resembled.
On a week when England’s hopes of World Cup glory were dashed by Croatia, Hospital Records celebrated reaching one of their long-awaited ambitions - their first drum and bass holiday. For those who have followed, worked for and set up Hospital, this was the emotional milestone everyone had been waiting years for.
Taking place in the renowned festival hotspot of Tisno in Croatia, the tranquil setting felt like the true home of drum and bass. The combination of partying on beach and boat parties with a stunningly scenic backdrop, whilst listening to rolling drums, feel-good melodies and soulful vocals, culminated into five of the most incredible days of musical pleasure.
There was much speculation prior to the festival regarding how it would operate, with many directing criticism at the label’s organisation of certain aspects. However, this negativity quickly subsided into amazement once everyone stepped inside The Garden - an expansive paradise where ravers were able to wander freely.
With an intimate festival crowd, this made it possible for fans to get closer than ever to their favourite artists. From DRS asking for a rizzla and someone in the crowd handing him one on stage - in the process knocking over the speaker… to the guy who would go up to the DJ booths and cool down the artists with a handheld fan.
The overall festival vibe was something unparalleled to any previous Hospitality event - and believe me, Hospital have put on some ridiculously crazy ones in the past. For a label that has defied the boundaries of the genre time and time again, this was their biggest achievement yet.
The crowd, the artists, the labels - everyone put on their best performances and relished the opportunity to celebrate d’n’b at such an esteemed location. Whether it was DJ Marky scratching vinyl above his head, ridiculously unlikely b2b combinations, or people skanking on pedalos in the ocean - this was a drum and bass holiday like no other.
The layout of the festival saw four different stages: magnolia - an open courtyard next to the restaurant; the garden stage, which was considered to be the main stage with an open air feel and a variety of overhead light rigs; the olive grove - surrounded by lots of vegetation; and finally, the beach stage - a picturesque, intimate arena setting with a stunning view of the ocean.
Kicking off the Thursday was predominantly an all Hospital affair, with Med School running the beach stage and a Hospital takeover on the garden. Fred V & Grafix, Maduk, Danny Byrd and Unglued all produced stand out performances, but it was London Elektricity who drew the biggest headline.
At one point during his set, Tony Colman lay on the ground swinging his legs in the air as if he was swimming - only to be joined by one of his sons on stage in a rather peculiar dance off - with Tony doing the robot and his son pulling out the floss dance to raucous appreciation from the crowd. It was a touching moment typifying the inclusive family vibe Hospitality is built on.
Friday presented a different musical flavour to the first day, with Critical Sound taking to main stage, the blissful liquid tones of Sun and Bass on the beach and High Tea Music in the olive grove.
The majority of people congregated at the beach throughout the day and night, as there was something very special about this stage. Whether it was listening to LSB play The View whilst looking out at the deep blue of the sea, or seeing DJ Marky and Fabio share a stage and pay homage to the late Marcus Intalex.
Whilst the beach was in full swing, out at sea something just as unique was happening - a Hospitality boat party featuring London Elektricity, Degs, Nu:Logic, MC Fava and S.P.Y.
Running three times a day with a stocked bar, the boat trips undoubtably resembled one of the festivals most successful elements. From Randall b2b S.P.Y, to Kings of The Rollers and Lenzman - there was a trip to satisfy every taste. Taking place on a stylish yacht, sailing across the ocean against a backdrop of a blue sky - this was the glorious occasion Hospitality events were made for.
Throughout the trip you couldn’t help but gaze around at the setting in awe. As good as Hospitality is in a darkened club with strobe lighting, this was something else.
From people standing on the bow of the boat dancing to classic Hospital numbers and a surprise b2b2b2b between all the DJs, to speedboats pulling up alongside for a quick skank and Tony Colman lifting a World Cup trophy whilst asking who the crowd wanted to win the final (silly question…) Friday’s Hospitality boat party was a joyous affair leaving everyone departing the boat with beaming smiles.
As the weekend hit, attention turned to England’s crucial match against Belgium. Absolutely not… It couldn't have been further from mind, with everyone relaxing around the beach during the day - floating on the water nursing cocktails whilst trying to avoid the dreaded sea urchins.
This was the vibe HOTB was built around. Definitely not the sea urchins, but the state of equilibrium everyone felt in the moment - not caring about the football, Brexit, or life in general. For five days Tisno was its own world, a hidden utopia.
Saturday night was what everyone was waiting for, with two phenomenal three hour sets courtesy of Andy C on the garden stage and Calibre b2b DBridge on Spearhead’s beach stage. In particular, the latter had everyone swamping the arena, literally. There were people lining the wall adjacent to the crowd, behind the DJ shack and on jetties in the sea. All space was occupied for a special sight of two of d’n’b’s most respected.
But this was not all, as on stage two of the genre’s most respected front men, DRS & SP:MC, went b2b on the mic. It was DRS’ words ‘Let the music wash over…forget the stress of the day-to-day’ that rang true to this occasion. It felt like the crowd were being taken on a journey by the hypnotic liquid mastery.
Sunday was a different story, with energy levels ramping up for Hospitality's return to the garden stage with a sensational line-up featuring High Contrast, Camo & Krooked and Kings of The Rollers.
However, the magnolia was one of the picks of the day, with Fred V, Nu:Tone b2b Logistics and Hospital Records’ founders London Elektricity and Chris Goss all paying homage to the music that has defined their journeys through a variety of influences sets.
It provided a never before seen insight into their music, which led to euphoric moments such as Tony and Chris blasting ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ - prompting a patriotic response with people in the restaurant standing up bellowing the lyrics.
For those who didn't want the party to stop throughout the weekend, there were three after parties at arguably Croatia’s most famous nightclub - Barbarellas Discotheque. It may have only been a short coach journey away, but it felt like taking the drunk bus home from a night out - with people chanting, blasting music and even napping… However, this night was only just beginning.
The Sunday played host to S.P.Y Presents Dubplate Style, featuring himself b2b Nu:Tone for a jungle set, alongside High Contrast and a three hour masterclass from Randall to close the night - with Inja and the Ragga Twins jumping on the mic. Being situated in an entirely open-aired venue, it was surreal to see the sun rising with Randall on stage continuously shelling down dub plates.
As Monday came around, the big finale was something completely unfamiliar, unorthodox and unexpected - an all day b2b2b2b2b2b2b between Serum, Voltage, London Elektricity, B-Complex, Nu:Tone, Unglued and Logistics. Have I got your attention now?
It was a full throttle showing with the DJs constantly switching, rewinding each others music and playing tracks you would never usually hear them touch. It represented one big final celebration to end what had been a phenomenal festival. So we thought…
As the last hour approached, Benny L made a surprise appearance, but so too did a thunderous weather front - drenching the crowd in a tropical rainstorm, with bolts of lighting stretching across the blackened sky.
Unfortunately, it ended the music early - with everyone chanting ‘Fu** the rain’ whilst raising a middle finger to the sky. But as many darted for cover in the resort, the sound of music somehow grew louder…
Taking place at the entrance to the reception was a makeshift after party, with two people holding bluetooth speakers and a rapidly increasing crowd of chanting ravers - all adamant the party would continue. With a smirking Etherwood looking on in attendance, it was a bizarre experience - but a worthy ending resembling the friendly, intimate and passionate raving experience Hospitality on The Beach entailed.
The festival will go down as not only one of the most successful debut festivals in history, but it will be cherished as an incredibly special and personal experience, where drum and bass showed the world just how unique this scene is.
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