What can be a better way to start off the summer than to spend three hot June days (or seven, for the hardcore campers) on the three islands in the middle of the man-made Jarun lake in Zagreb, the bustling capital of Croatia, with an abundance of great music? That was the 2017 edition of the INmusic festival, which large numbers of British guests described as the “affordable version of Glastonbury festival”, while CNN listed it among the “50 greatest summer music festivals in the world” already back in 2013 – a major feat for a festival that started only in 2006.
Indeed, for the price of mere 60 EUR, the festival offered a three-day (18th-21st of June), quite impressive line-up, headlined by Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, alt-J and Kasabian; the rest of the line-up included Flogging Molly, Michael Kiwanuka, Booka Shade, Slaves, Danko Jones, Public Service Broadcasting and others, with a bit of the local flavour present – Darko Rundek, Repetitor, and more.
The main island of the venue transformed into a magic music land, with an easy navigation and a top-up card system to avoid dealing with the (for the majority of foreign guests) unfamiliar Croatian Kunas on the various food stands (with kebabs and hamburgers dominating the field, though the daily lines for crepes and pizza/fries were also impressive at 2 in the morning) and on the beer and soft drink stands with – surprisingly – no headache-worthy lines, simply because there were located on virtually every corner, including one smack in the middle of the lawn in front of the main stage; after all, it does get hot and thirsty as one ventures closer to the mosh pits…
For those who lived off-site or wanted to explore Zagreb, the city guaranteed free transportation on all city trams/buses. But the attendees also had no grievances over chilling only at the Jarun lake itself – the artificial lake has neat beaches for those who wanted to cool down with a swim, and on the main island, besides the Main Stage and the World Stage, the festival also had a karaoke venue, a festival theatre stage with daily shows (and even a cabaret performance!), several smaller stages (one dubbed as the “Hidden Stage”) for alternative/electronic music with various DJ’s taking the floor before and after the main concerts, while one of the festival favourite stops turned out to be the Tesla Tower with its projections of music legends, while playing the same legends’ famous tunes.
All in all, apart from the music, and with the camp just a pontoon bridge away, with free Wi-Fi for all the campers, the trio of islands successfully transformed into an INmusic Neverwhere, where the festival goers wanted for or needed basically nothing that was not provided. There were some complaints about the lack of free water by the local visitors, but the general price list was truly affordable. Kudos to the organizers who made sure the festival was such a well-oiled machine with no visible issues!
And now, to the bands: Arcade Fire really rocked the venue on the first night of the festival, and many of the festival goers named their performance as the highlight of the festival; the performers themselves expressed their shock at the audience enthusiastically singing along to their freshly released “Everything Now”. However, in terms of audience number, it was Kings of Leon who drew in by far the largest number of visitors to the main stage on the second evening; they delivered a truly solid music performance, turning the audience ablaze especially with certain of the audience favourites, such as “Sex on Fire”, “Use Somebody” and “Waste a Moment”. While the music performance was on the dot, it must be said that the Kings themselves felt a little off – they especially left us wanting in terms of audience interaction.
On the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, the 2017 edition of the INmusic festival came to a close with a storm (an actual storm) that helped settle the fine, dry dust at the venue and inspired a showcase of rain-boots for those who showed up mud-ready. The final performance of the main festival line-up was delivered by Kasabian, who closed their performance with “Fire” – there is no doubt that it warmed up the audience for their final festival party night.
The rainstorm perhaps somewhat lowered the final attendance tally, but not too much: the number still broke the festival’s own record. In the three days, the organizers counted 100,000 visitors from 60 different countries! It is safe to say that the 2017 edition of the INmusic festival was a total success, and it is worth keeping an eye out on what the 2018 line-up will bring. At this rate, for INmusic there is no way but up!
Written by Sanja Struna
All photos © Sanja Struna