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AAA Music | 19 June 2024

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STOP MAKING SENSE 2013 – Live Review (Part 1)

| On 12, Aug 2013


Hi, my name is Gonzalo, and I think I may be over festivals. Or that is at least the way I felt about a week ago. I’m 29, weak in the knees and just… well it’s not that I can’t hack it anymore, seriously, I just think I shouldn’t have to ‘hack’ it on my time off. Hacking is what I do with the bastards at work… why should I hack on the few days of the year I’ve specifically requested off so I don’t have to ‘hack’ anything. Time off should be a breeze, no? Not traipsing around in mud, so you can catch a 45 minute set in the rain; not sleeping one hour a night before the sun turns your tent into an oven; not spending seven quid a pint so you can drink warm cider; not waiting 30 minutes crammed in next to Mr. Elbows and Mrs. Screechy so you can hear her sing over your favourite artist while Elbows digs in to your ribs while you try and peer over Johnny-Tall-Hat so you can see the silhouetted speck that resembles that guy (he’s gonna be really big apparently) that did a mix with Thom Yorke. No. Can’t I just have a good time – no queues, no coaches, no ridiculous i-need-to-hold-hands-with-my-male-friends-to-not-lose-them crowds; just a good time. So… I think we get the picture, I’m old, and festivals are only making me older.

Anyway, so after the long coaches and epic crowds of Sonar; the sleepless nights and days of the 35 degree quarry in Berlin that is Melt Festival (where you can only sleep in a tent so hot that nuclear fission may occur, yet you have to queue for half an hour to buy water, and what do they have? Three types of water… very fizzy, mild fizzy, and not-so-fizzy, not still water – that would be crazy); and after the thirteen year old, nostalgic for eras that they didn’t live through, pretrendy-hippies of Secret Garden Party, all in the past few weeks, someone, some genius (evil genius perhaps?) recommended Stop Making Sense as something a little different, something a little older perhaps, or maybe just a trick to finally finish me off. Well… we shall see.



So I arrived straight to the beach to try and find my friends – again, usually a festival downer, but at Stop Making Sense it’s really not an issue… in fact if you don’t like your mates, don’t go. By my estimation there was probably less than 1000 people all weekend and less than that on site, and if I lost my friends I knew they’d either be there, or a little bit further over there, and I really mean a little bit. The site for those that haven’t been to any of the other festivals in Tisno, Croatia – home to the larger Garden Festival, the more eclectic Soundwave, and even the 40+ ravers reunion house festival that seemed to be on a few days before we arrived (by the way, FYI, never look a 40 year old gurner in the eyes. Never). The garden is a nice, all-inclusive-y type resort, so the entrance to your festival is through this sterile hotel reception. Through the wooded park, full with swings and massage parlour – yeah, really – you get to the beach and pier and two bars, with a about 100 people on it… and that’s it, that’s your lot, kind of an anti-climax except, s**t, we are surrounded by beautiful islands, everyone is super chilled, and someone is playing some pretty sick house in the corner. Ok, yes, this is a festival, is this what I wanted?

So I sat down and listened to the cool tracks of DJ Laizi, who seemed to know why he was there. This was sit-on-your-lilo-and-boss-it house – a niche perhaps, yes, but I hoped he had passed the memo around to the other DJs that this is what I want them to play all weekend. Looking at the line up it looked likely – only house DJs aaaaaall niiiight, every night.

Later on I went to the FACT boat party. Again, not something I would, in my premature state of geriatric cantankery, think I would like, BUT it offered what would turn out to be some of the only interlocutors of house for all the weekend. Tom Lea, T.Williams and the guy I would start to see everywhere I go – yeah, that guy, DJ Laizi hit it off, they switched seamlessly from house to garage and even dropped a bit of hip hop. T.Williams, after the two sets I saw him play at SMS is fast becoming a new favourite of mine. He gets it. For so many people, garage just came back in to their lives out of nowhere about five years ago and is sharply disappearing, but for him it’s in everything he does, he gets that it was always there, at the end of every run down high street, on every Thursday Ladies club night for years, every furniture store town south of Norfolk, in the wilderness… it was never far away, and is in everything we do, and everything he does – he gets that, and thinks that you should too. His straight up house set later on in the weekend was laced with two step beats as its backbone, like all of England is, and was definitely the musical highlight of the weekend. He rocked it, and he knew it. You know when a set has such intricately delicately woven beats that you just do that mini-dance move thing with your hands, moving them like a microscopic conductor, like a whole dance will break the tune so you make teeny tiny shapes and bite your lip, and you giggle, you giggle ‘cause it’s just so good… do you know what I mean? Well that’s what T.Williams was doing through his set, that’s what we were all doing, and I’ve rarely seen a crowd that upset to see a DJ go, but I thought if communal tears could be shed, it would have happened then. It didn’t though, people just shook his hand, so at least I guess we know for sure now – a communal congregated body of people cannot create one giant tear, not possible… fact.



Friday I thought I’d have a normal festival day, enjoy the beach, try and not step on any urchins or drink too much beer…. instead I swallowed a wasp – true story – except I was sat with some new friends and didn’t want to cause a stir so just sat there trying to work out if I was having a heart attack. While I never went to the hospital so can’t be sure, I sat it out, didn’t make a fuss and it went away, so no, I don’t think I had a heart attack. And with these new life lessons (a. don’t eat wasps, b. 29 year olds are not that prone to heart attacks – no matter what you’ve done to yourself, and c. I’ve got so much left to give!) I set off for the festival.

On site apartments cost about 600 English big ones for the week so I got a nice one bed apartment with basically the best view I’ve ever had anywhere over looking islands and blue blue, blue, did I say blue(?) sea – about 15 minutes walking distance away for 325 English medium sized ones (still talking about pounds). Better than the flat was actually that it meant I had a solid excuse to take a taxi boat into the festival everyday – I will never be as close to being James Bond as I was during these five days, and did I take a Prosseco bottle with me on the boat? Sure, sure I did, I’m that much of a twat. So we rock up (on a boat… holding a glass of Prosecco that’s full of sea water – its ok, I hate me too) in time to see Will Saul on the rocky beach stage winding up the evening as the sun sets over those islands and rocks. It was – and now remember how poncey this sounds considering I’m holding a Prosecco – ethereal. Seriously though, Will Saul took us to some ethereal places – kudos young buddah, kudos. Midland carried on the vibe seamlessly stepping between classic and some upfront house slowly cooking up a storm until he flexed Leon Vinyl’s ‘Brother’, basically smashing any ideas of a nice chilled night any of us may have held.

Now I needed a sit down but unfortunately the two onsite stages are so close to each other that when I sat in my favourite bar I just got a god awful sound clash. I don’t know how SMS can change this next year but please: let me sit in the basket chairs and watch the young folk and listen to just one music – not in a weird way, I think that’s a pretty reasonable demand. Oh yeah, and less wasps too please. So I had to make a decision between musics and as I was seeing Appleblim the next day, on a boat (everything is cooler on a boat), I decided Prins Thomas beckoned. Now maybe I missed the years when I should have been getting this. You know those Happy Monday Bez lookalike guys you see still harboring nostalgic love for their 90s acid house warehouses that perhaps now go to Greenpeace marches and sit in trees? Well, Prins Thomas was for them, not for me… I had eaten non organic tuna that afternoon, this perhaps morally alienated me from the music. So I sat in a tree and tried to embrace the spacey love in the air as Prins Thomas slowly turned it into disco house and finally Fleetwood Mac, obvs.

From my solemn tree I couldn’t really work out if the dancing and singing along was in irony, and I don’t think the crowd knew either. I think it’s better that way. Anyway I pulled some ‘ironic’ moves up the tree with righteous certainty that they would catch on and join in the spacey love. It felt good, I just can’t admit that in public fully. I then grabbed everyone I knew, which seemed like everyone in the crowd at that point (and probably wasn’t far off) and took them to the pier. DJ Laizi taught us a new dance – he’s always there! – while we waited for a boat and then we took it to the club. 15 minutes of stars like I’ve never seen and we arrive with our humongous crew of bessies for the night. At this point I think it’s truly possible to learn everyone’s name in the festival and start to try – and people are so nice no one hits me for being a dick; seriously nice people. Then, dear god, the aforementioned T. Williams set that hit it off, and the seriously sick sounds of Steve Bug’s house music, so cool it had sunnies on. One boat home and this tree-hugger was ready for bed.

…Please click here for Saturday and Sunday (Part 2)

Review: Del Newman

Photos: SMS