The simple truth of latter-day (cultural) event management is incontrovertible – either events are backed by colossal piles of money and can earn their heavyweight reputation from the get-go by securing the biggest names in the industry, or they are backed by not much more than well-wishing enthusiasts and have to string together pennies to try and take off the ground, more often than not only to hit a growth plateau and ultimately fade into oblivion lest an affluent benefactor sees a viable financial opportunity and saves the day.
Fortunately, Croatia’s INmusic festival falls into neither of those categories; while founded by rock music devotees no less than 13 years ago, it never hit a roadblock in the growth of popularity, not even throughout the European recession. Now, entering teenagehood, it is a beautiful and rare example of a music event founded by fans, for the fans, which never had “too much money” at its disposal but has still managed to grow into one of the world’s most formidable festivals.
Campers walk across Lake Jarun toward the festival site / Photo: Filip Busic
Taking place on the Isle of Youth, right in the heart of Zagreb’s astonishing Lake Jarun, it’s a brilliant opportunity to relax in the nature and enjoy a few days of fresh air and pastoral imagery, while at the same time being but a spit away from the city center, and just a couple hundred miles from Croatia’s breathtaking coastline (you got that right – a weeklong vacation is the best way to go about this business). The strictly rock, alternative, and “guitar pop” oriented, three-day festival, with its limited capacity of about 30,000 people per day (neither can more people fit on the Isle of Youth, nor should there be more people; this is an ideally cut-out crowd size), and is held annually in the second half of June.
Over the past decade, INmusic implemented a peculiar business model – instead of spending the little money they had on a variety of semi-recognizable bands, they would keep the festival limited to three days, and would always spend most of their budget on one daily headlining behemoth, while filling the rest of the lineup with up-and-coming acts, many of whom would later on become household names themselves (e.g. Michael Kiwanuka). This approach yielded extraordinary results – some of the heavyweights hosted were Arctic Monkeys, the Black Keys, Florence + The Machine, Moby, N.E.R.D., and LCD Soundsystem. And the crowds just kept coming back, pulling in their friends, families and online acquaintances in the process. Last year the event saw record-breaking crowds, which congregated to witness the glory of the likes of Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, Kasabian, and Alt-J, and in 2018 the festivals rock ethos just strengthens.
INMusic by night / Photo: Filip Busic
From June 25 until June 27, those lucky enough to snatch the $75 day passes, will bear witness to new visions from the old rock greats – among the headliners are Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Queens of the Stone Age, Interpol, David Byrne, Alice in Chains, with a sleuth of sassy supporting acts, such as the Kills, St. Vincent, Portugal. The Man, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, and more.
Among the many non-musical reasons to visit INmusic is the sheer beauty of the city of Zagreb, but also the affordability and holiday appeal of Croatia’s many natural marvels, especially its gorgeous coastline. INmusic has always been Europe’s well-kept secret, but now that it’s unequivocally stepping into the big leagues, you no longer have an excuse not to visit and then tell your friends all about it.