Full disclosure straight away: the INMusic Festival is in Croatia, but that makes the entire summer vacation prospect (or city break) all the better for it. In the southwestern part of Zagreb, Croatia’s lively and compellingly affordable capital, the event sits near lake Jarun, a scenic area featuring loads of loud birds, ravishing sunsets, plenty of cafés, and a sports and leisure center. Located merely a couple of miles away from the historic city center, it is a splendid getaway for many a young frolicker seeking refuge from their daily ordeals—and its heart is called the Youth Island, a comfortable grassland which found itself home to what is today known as one of Europe’s best festivals, hands down.
Founded in 2006, and celebrating its 12th year on June 19, INMusic is not just another cunningly seized opportunity for opening Central Europe to music festivals. In fact, it is that truly rare event run by music enthusiasts who wanted nothing more than to help bring the best of contemporary rock and pop to their fellow men and women. While these romanticized stories of event management ventures seldom come to fruition, the people behind INMusic persevered, and managed somehow to keep most of their investors even through a fiscally turbulent climate, all while coming out on top. What had started as a small fest featuring Franz Ferdinand, Morrissey, and a slew of local performers, the event has now turned into a sensational gathering for music aficionados from around the globe.
By taking the festival road less traveled—namely that of avoiding booking popular DJ/Auto-Tuned acts as headliners in order to sell more tickets—INMusic organizers have skillfully succeeded, year after year, in bringing the most commercially viable names in rock to the Central-European masses. Over the past 11 years, headliners have been almost exclusively the biggest names on the contemporary rock/electro scene, among them LCD Soundsystem, Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys, the Black Keys, the Stooges, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Prodigy, Massive Attack, Moby, Kraftwerk, and more. This year, over the course of three days and across four stages and several adjunct performance venues, more than 70,000 people will get to marvel at Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, Alt-J, Kasabian, Flogging Molly, Danko Jones, and more.
The greatest perk, though, is the amount of new material we expect to get from multiple headliners. After a hugely successful headlining set several weeks ago at the Primavera Sound festival, where they announced their new album, Everything Now, Arcade Fire will surely treat their Croatian audience to a set sure to be rich in new tunes, some of which may even be premieres. Another headlining band, now a trio, Alt-J, will also present work from their new, third album, Relaxer. Kasabian, on the other hand, have debuted their freshest release, For Crying Out Loud, in May, but haven’t had the chance to dry run the song batch yet. The only headliners without completely new material are Kings of Leon, but if their WALLS tour thus far is any indication, we will be treated to a sound mix of decade-old hits and more recent chart-toppers.
While, admittedly, flying to Croatia from the U.S. is anything but cheap/convenient, the price of the festival ticket—along with general affordability of Zagreb (think about $2.50 for a pint of beer) and the exquisite landscapes of a vibrant European metropolis—will make your trip more than worthwhile. If you’re aiming for a summer vacation, bear in mind that Croatia has one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. On the other hand, if you’re already in Europe, Croatia is easily reachable by a one-hour low-cost flight from basically anywhere. Wherever you are, INMusic truly combines the best of what music today has to offer with the kind of childish enthusiasm and natural charm its attendees find irresistible, year after year.