Wow! What a week! If you’re looking for the short version of my thoughts on Modem Festival, they would be that I am hoping to be back for it again next year. For the longer experience story, keep on reading…

Let’s wind it back to the 5th of August, when I packed up my car and headed off to Slunj for a night before heading into the festival site. Originally I had thought about getting a bus to Slunj and then the shuttle to the festival site so had booked a place to stay the night before the site opened for camping. In the end after looking at the bus schedules from Otočac I decided that driving was a much better option and ooh yeah it was. In hindsight I am really happy with the decisions I made. I still decided to keep my nights accomodation in Slunj so that I could take some time to check out Rastoke and it was lovely walking around there and not rushing pre festival.

On Saturday morning I got myself organised and made my way to the Modem car park. Next year I will also buy a dolly to transport all the things! I had packed pretty well so that I could just carry everything in one trip but could do with some extra bits and more organisation next time. At least the years of festivals and partying had prepped me pretty well for this one. I dumped my bags and asked a friendly Greek chick who was waiting with a bunch of stuff if she could just mind my bags for me while I went and got my wristband all sorted. Afterwards we then had a quick chat about where was good to camp and she gave me a bit of a lowdown on the map.

It was time to go wait for the shuttle to take me to the camp sites. I joined the group of peeps sheltering in the shade and started chatting to a few of them. Finally the bus came, I loaded my bits and was on the way to the site. The first stop of the bus I was confused if this was where I wanted to get off or not. Intel from others who had previously been had said second stop for the Swamp but that wasn’t quite ringing true with my gut. I confirmed that this was Swamp end camping and I quickly got off the bus and collected my things. I started following the camping signs and walked past the group I had been chatting to at the stop. The entry to the camping was filling up and I kept following a path around trying to keep an eye out for a spot I would like to camp in. I found a patch in the shade to drop everything for a minute to catch my breath and have a drink as it was hot. It was a cute little spot but my tent wasn’t going to fit there. The same group from earlier walked past me and we exchanged nods.

I picked everything up and kept going. I chatted to the dude who was keeping the van parking spot clear and he said there was some really nice camping further down in the shade near the river still. He was Aussie too so I was trusting his advice on knowing where there was a good place to camp. I headed in that direction, passing the group from earlier again. I then came into this lush spot that was shaded and had a lovely tree line and nice canopy. The weather app had said there might be some rain and I thought the tree canopy might also offer some good protection from both sun and rain. I dropped my things and decided I was home for the week. As I started to clear the ground and start setting up my tent Robin from the chatting group earlier walked past and said ‘Trust the Aussies to find the good spot, we might camp here next to you.’ I was like yeah, great. They were a cool group of 2 couples Robin and Lara from Germany and their friend Berfin who was now living in Australia and her partner Ariya from Sydney. I was a little excited and happy that we ended up camping near each other as I had got good vibes and energy from them all and it was nice to straight away connect with some people. Of course it ended up that Berfin and I worked out a few mutual connections too over the week.

I had ended up leaving a gap between my tent and the last tent that had set up already. I did ask them if they were leaving space for anyone and was going to set up closer to them but I ended up looking up and choosing to leave a gap and put my tent in the bit under the trees that spoke to me more. It ended up working out well because a couple rocked up with a tent that perfectly fit in that space. Annalisa and Martin from Estonia ended up being neighbours on that side.

The actual music for the festival wasn’t starting till Monday evening so until then it was pretty much just a chilled out camping trip. I had bought some clip on ears I had started to make along with me that just needed clips sewn on so sat around doing that and chatted with the neighbours for the evening. It was so nice to feel welcomed and invited into another group’s space and included straight away in conversation so easily. All of the pre festival ah, how I am going to go meeting people and making new friends being at a festival alone, how awkward is this going to be thoughts very quickly started to disappear.

That night I took a sleeping pill and had an early night, thinking it was a good idea to try to build a good base of sleep up. The next morning I was just laying in bed as there really wasn’t any rush to getting up and overheard some voices knocking on the next door tent asking about the space between our tents. Robin and Lara’s tent had been set up with a gap from my tent as another tent was coming for Berfin and Ariya on Sunday. Chairs and a rug had been left out to try to save the space and stop anyone getting into it during the night . I heard them kind of call out that there was a tent coming but could still hear people outside trying to figure out what to do and tents moving. So I decided to be a sticky beak and suss it out.

I then see these two dudes dragging a tent around and looking about for where to put it. Since I had got in and set up the day before there had been a bit of overnight tent popping up. As they do. Tents at night are like mushrooms at the start of the festival. They just appear. Anyway these guys told me that they had just been woken up and told that they had to move their tents from where they set them up at like 1am. There was something about them. I found them interesting and was drawn to find out more about them so I helped them figure out where to put the tent. It turned out though it was figuring out where to put 3 tents with 2 more small ones coming later on as well as a gazebo that they had. We made it work and now I was part of their camp site as their gazebo was pretty much going at my door. So this was where I met Twan and Bas from Holland. Turns out 6 more of there mates were rocking up later on and soon enough I met Rory, Patrick, Michael, Lianne, Tosca, and Jurian.

These guys made my week! I am so happy that the universe delivered them to my tent door. I had so much fun getting to know each of them and was surprised at just how comfortable I felt at times. It was an interesting experience allowing myself to process and accept feeling so relaxed and welcomed into this amazing circle of friends. Such beautiful people that I will forever be grateful to have met.

The campsite and neighbours were definitely a major highlight of the festival for me. It was such an awesome crew to get to float around and spend time with, get to know, and I hopefully can catch up with again in the future. (Modem next year, same spot) It was surreal to be on the other side of the world, alone at a festival, and not feel lonely at all. Instead feel surrounded by friends and still experience the feeling that I have at festivals at home of if you wander off on your own for a bit it won’t be long till you bump into someone to hang out and have company again. I had one moment of feeling a bit like oh, maybe I am in imposing on these people too much and in their space and need to be out of it, I’m probably in the way. Those are pretty normal thoughts for me to experience, but I also felt that I was in a safe space and comfortable in sharing those thoughts and communicating them.

On Monday the actual festival started happening with workshops during the day before the stages started pumping the tunes in the evening. I even made it to a workshop. There was a hula hoop workshop at 2pm on Monday so I went to check out what that was like. I hadn’t taken any of my hoops with me overseas so I kind of just wanted to have a play. Which is what I did. The woman leading the workshop had a few hoops with her but nowhere near what she should have had for running this workshop. This is me also just me being super judgey. Having friends that run these sort of workshops in Australia and knowing how many hoops they bring along with them and what they do kind of has me questioning what others do. Anyway, I gave the hoop I had borrowed to some other chick to play with as she hadn’t played with hoops that much. I did find someone who had some mini hoops that I played with for a bit.

The stages opening times were staggered and it was pretty cool seeing everyone gathered at The Swamp for that to kick off. This was the stage I had seen some pictures of and was excited to see in real life. The site of Modem is amazing and the production and effort put into this festival is incredible. The crew involved in this event have created such a magical and amazing party. I had been hearing everyone talk about The Hive for the last two days and how cool of a stage it was too. I had also been warned numerous times about the stairs that would need to be climbed to reach it. The stairs were challenging at times and not something I would want to be doing 10 times a day. The stage up there was also very incredible. Everyone I knew who had been to Modem before had let me know that I would likely prefer the music at the Swamp instead of the Hive and majority of the time that was true and I spent most time there actually,

I had some great boogies up at The Hive and was exposed to a bit more of an understanding of Psytrance. I also got to remember at the Swamp stage that it’s the Prog element that bothers me not Psytrance. I also worked out it’s not all Prog. Some actually progresses but some Progressive music doesn’t progress. A lot of the time it seems to just bad foreplay. I’m really enjoying it, it’s good, going well and I am getting excited about where I think it’s going to take me, and then…it just stops and does something different and I am left going WHAT? Then I have to try to readjust myself and get back into the groove and then, it changes again. It’s a bit frustrating at times. Well it’s when that happens that I realise it’s Prog and I get annoyed. If it’s done well I don’t get jarred and annoyed as much.

As someone who doesn’t listen to the music that was played at this festival outside of being at an event like this it was interesting to let myself be led by those around me. I used their knowledge to try to get some insight into what things were. There are way too many sub genres. There was one set that drew me in and gave me an awesome dance sesh. It featured some DNB and Dubstep basslines and WOBBLE! There was whomp wobble bass that had me in my happy place! It was good to hear that and it has encouraged me now to delve into the music and sub genres a little bit more to try to find more of it. Maybe next year I will even have DJ’s whose sets I am like, yeah I need to see this person play.

The visuals on both The Swamp and Hive were fantastic. So creative and clever. The Hive stage was just beautiful at night and came to life. The lasers through the trees was fantastic and I had so much fun taking photos that I will be using as my computer backdrops. The effort and thought going into the production of this event is astounding. I think it’s the highest level I have ever witnessed. Even the Seed stage at night how it transforms is stunning and everything fits in and ties in with the landscape so nicely.

The site is lush with so many amazing places to sit and enjoy views of beautiful water and greenery. The fact there was a full moon this week was also amazing watching it hide behind clouds, reflect of the water, poke out between trees and all of the views of it excited me as it does. There was also a lot bugs I made friends with over the weekend. Fred was my first and most serious bug friend, we spent quite a bit of time together. He hung out crawling up my legs and arms for about 2 hours. He definitely made an impact on the Modem journey.

The market stalls were nice to wander around and I did end up picking myself up a pair of leggings and a zip up hoodie. I didn’t really have enough colder weather clothing with me and I definitely appreciated having these in my life. I had also got a poncho at one time that was pretty cheap, it is wool which I’m not super excited about owning or the fact that I bought it but it will live in the wardrobe in Croatia as a gift for Mum. I was desperate for something warm at the time I bought it and it was one of the only options I had seen when I needed it most.

Oh and of course one I’m not sure if highlight is the right word, but definitely memorable experience was catching Ghost Dogs playing at the outdoor cinema. Located just at the top of the stairs before the Hive stage it’s a nice setup with a cafe bar thing. This was a nice spot to just sit and chill in and on one night I saw a few short films but Ghost Dogs was definitely a standout! Wow! Watching that was an experience in itself. A very intense short film, and one I have now watched again…twice…

The week went by too fast, and once the halfway point happened it was over in a blink. I had been umming and ahhing about if I was going to leave on Sunday or Monday and by Saturday I was definitely leaving on Monday. Then I woke up on Sunday morning and felt that I was ready to say goodbye to Modem. Now I am just waiting to figure out the logistics to come back next year. I haven’t even left Europe yet and I am already starting to plan coming back. I think this is my life now.