Music & Nightlife

Find the best clubs and nightlife in Croatia – and where to see the best live music shows, festivals and concerts

Justin Bieber

If you thought we'd already hit peak Bieber-fever, don't hold your breath. The Bieberenaissance is upon us. Perennial chart-topper, and former tween-pop laughing stock has reinvented himself as pop-culture's latest libertine, aping fellow chart titan Justin Timberlake's sleek R&B style crooning. The baby-faced Canadian hits Croatia for the first time in November, a date for committed beliebers and Justin newcomers alike.

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Discover Croatia's best nightlife venues

Zagreb nightlife guide

Vienna? Budapest? Ljubljana? Zagreb nightlife is matched by few places owing to the range of regular live music on offer – and for the sheer number of venues to stage it. Zagreb is also known for its music bars – places such as SPUNK transform into small clubs as the night wears on, with occasional live acts too. Read on for our list of the best places to dance the night away.

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Clubs

KSET • Zagreb

KSET is an excellent, adventurous venue for live music and DJs, with events taking place three or four nights a week. Well worth the hassle of finding, KSET has actively promoted new bands for decades, an oasis for underground, post-rock, Americana, avant-jazz, punk, rap, ethno and lots of other stylistically diverse artists. With a 400-person capacity this intimate and friendly space is the ideal venue in which to catch a band on the cusp of the big time. The choice of drinks is limited to beer, wine and fruit juices, but prices are rock-bottom.

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Bars and pubs

The best Dubrovnik bars

By day, Dubrovnik and its overcrowded Old Town seem the perfect place for sandal-wearing coffee-sippers. But by night, Dubrovnik bars spring to life, with a number of atmospheric spots serving up anything from fine Dalmatian wines to fancy cocktails. Dip in to our essential drinking guide.

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Split nightlife guide

Split nightlife is going through a period of change. Surprisingly, most of the interesting new clubbing spots run mostly off-season. A row of late-opening bars along the Bačvice beachside also stay busy way past midnight over the summer. Read on for our pick of the best clubs and nightspots the city has to offer.

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Music features and interviews

Music

Interview with Irena Žilić

Many is the time I have recommended a Croatian album to a friend only to find that that they are not altogether convinced by my enthusiasm. Either the language is too much of a barrier, or the music sounds out of kilter, even out of date, compared to what regularly booms out of the speakers back home. Thankfully my reputation as globetrotting beat connoisseur looks like being saved, thanks to a new generation of Croatian singer-songwriters who are not only producing startlingly wistful, elegant and catchy songs, but are performing them in perfect English. The last 12 months have seen a trio of must-listen names rise to the top of a growing indie-folk scene. Singer-songwriter Irena Žilić’s album Travelling blew people away with its polish and poise; Marshmallow Notebooks’ eponymously-titled album of wistful, witty songs was more low-fi in style but no less compelling.  We chatted with folk chanteuse Irena Žilić, a science graduate who works in a biology lab. As self-deprecating and down-to-earth as she is talented, this is a seriously gifted songwriter who wields the English language with the same poetic skill as any of her native-speaking contemporaries. How did you start out as a songwriter? I started writing songs pretty soon after I got my first guitar at the age of 16. As soon as I was able to play around with chords, the songs just kind of fell out. Why did you choose the English language? Writing in English was a natural development because the music I listened t

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Music

Interview with Lovely Quinces

Lovely Quinces is the slightly ambiguous nom-de-plume of Split-born strumming siren Dunja Ercegović. Hearing her music for the first time, you would be more likely to assume they were from North America or the Antipodes than the Mediterranean fringes of Central Europe. Her long-awaited debut album looks set to provide Croatia’s guitar-driven revolution the critical mass it needs to make an international breakthrough. It's been picked as a contender for European Indie Album of the Year - an accolade previously claimed by likes of Adele, The XX and Caribou. With globetrotting success beckoning, we stopped by to chat with this emerging Croatian talent. How did you start out as a songwriter? At around the age of 11 or 12. I learned how to play guitar but hated playing other peoples’ songs. Even now I only know about three covers! Why did you choose the English language? I’ve been learning English ever since I was five and I’ve always been under the influence of English-language pop culture. I never paid much attention to Croatian music and there are still a lot of popular Croatian songs that I don’t really know; I was always in my own little bubble. How did Dunja Ercegović become Lovely Quinces? Like most things that come out of me it was done on impulse. When I posted my first song on the internet I realised that I didn’t have a name. But dunja is Croatian for ‘quince’ and one thing led to another... Lovely Quinces was supposed to be a temporary solution but I just got stu

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Music

Young Fathers: 'We are original and the first of our kind'

Award-winning Scottish trio Young Fathers are set to make their Croatia debut at Electronic Beats Festival. Here, Alloysious Massaquoi talks to Time Out about controversial titles, politics and why their live appearance here will be unmissable. Young Fathers' music is urgent, essential listening. Moving between angry, warped beats and beautifully melodious pop, the group has frequently been labelled 'alternative hip hop', though they insist this is lazy pigeon holing based on their looks (the Scottish trio are comprised of 'G' Hastings, Alloysious Massaquoi, originally from Liberia via Ghana, and Kayus Bankole, born to Nigerian parents).   Regardless of how you label their music, it demands attention. 2014's DeadLP saw them pick up the Mercury Music Prize, while this year's White Men Are Black Men Too has garnered them plenty of attention, and not just because of the provocative title. It's a record that demonstrates the unique range of a group who may well just be one of the most interesting acts to take to the stage at Echo Park Festival. Young Fathers' live show is passionate, electrifying and utterly unmissable.   How did you set about making White Men Are Black Men Too and how did that process differ from the recording of Dead? We decided to simplify the process without loosing content. Words were cut down, our musical landscape was more driven and spacious which gave us the option to sing more.   There was quite a quick turnaround between Dead and White Men Are

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Music

Preview: Mykki Blanco

New Yorker Michael David Quattlebaum Jr is many different things. At varying times, he is a man, a woman, a poet, a rapper, a glamour model, a hipster and a social commentator.   When he gets on stage with a microphone, he is usually Mykki Blanco, his female alter-ego who happens to be one of the most exciting rappers on the planet. Quattlebaum ran away from his North Carolina home, aged 16, for New York before spending time in California and Chicago.   The Blanco character first came to underground prominence in the US in 2011, with the release of his poetry book From the Silence of Duchamp to theNoise of Boys. Marrying wordplay to music, the hip-hop element was thenbulked as the character developed. Blanco was soon lumped into a new wave of exciting, mainly New York-based rappers including A$AP Rocky and Danny Brown, artists who eschewed the old notion of what a stereotypically homophobic US rapper is with their more liberal views.   ‘I see myself as someone who uses hip-hop to express ideas,’ he says. ‘I rap, but I’m not in the hip-hop world, so I wouldn’t know if the landscape has changed in the genre.’ Indeed, he’s in his own world. Earning both hipster credentials with his madcap fashion sense and critical acclaim with his quick-fire rapping and inventive music, the future is looking as bright as his often-garish stage wear.   His 2012 mixtape, Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati/Prince/ss, has just scratchedthe surface of an unpredictably thrilling talent. ‘As much as

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Music

Interview with the organisers of The Garden Festival

This July sees the tenth – and last – Garden Festival at a former holiday camp for oil workers in Tisno. Over a decade, this seminal event has moved from its former base at an abandoned discothèque in Petrčane and helped changed the face of Croatia as a whole. Planeloads of foreigners have partied and come back for more. Some have even set up their own events along the coast and adventurous locals have done likewise. Now Croatia is a festival destination of choice. Time Out checks in with the organisers - Nick Colgan and Dave Harvey, to talk about The Garden, it's last outing in Tisno - and beyond. Nick: ‘It wasn’t an easy decision. When I told Dave and everyone, they all said, ‘You’re joking! We can’t finish it!’ But ten years is a long time to do anything. There are lots of projects in the pipeline. I’d like us to go out on a high. This year will definitely be one to remember.’ Dave: ‘I came to the first one in 2006. I’d been told that some Brummies were starting a rave in somewhere called Croatia. I blagged my way onto the line-up and I was in!’ Music producer and party supremo Nick Colgan founded The Garden club in Zadar in 2005. With years of experience on the road with UB40 and organising parties in Argentina and California, while on holiday Nick had found a lounge-bar location high up in Zadar’s Venetian city walls. Nick: ‘Wherever I go, I’m always looking out for a party venue. The Garden was a spontaneous idea. The owners gave us ten days to decide. I’d never run

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Recommended live music events and concert venues

Clubs

AKC Medika • Zagreb

Still going strong despite the municipal authorities' threat to dramatically raise the rent, this shrine to all things alternative grew out of Zagreb’s anarchist movement and is still run as a non-profit-making collective. A courtyard decorated by some of Zagreb’s best street artists has a café-bar on one side, and a concert venue-cum-club space on the other. Events range from anarcho-punk gigs to dub reggae DJs and cutting-edge dance music, with all kinds of other styles thrown in for good measure. Visual arts association Otomptom throw impromptu film evenings screening animation and shorts. Popular with a broad spectrum of Zagreb’s club-hungry youth, Medika is much more than just a gathering point for the grungey underground.

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Clubs

Club Nina 2 • Rijeka

This spacious docked boat has been converted into a popular dance spot in the heart of town. Live bands play and DJs spin a range of danceable music, from disco to Latin to electronica, for a mostly young crowd who boogie in a big room with a great bar on the middle floor of the boat. Get out on deck and into the fresh air for conversation and lounging. Three bars keep the drinks flowing.

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Clubs

Boogie Jungle • Korčula

Korčula has been crying out for a proper nightclub for years, and it has finally arrived in the form of Boogie Jungle, a ranch-style agglomeration of buildings on a terraced hillside 3km from town on the Žrnovo road. Opened in 2012 and enlarged in time for the opening of the 2013 season, the club comprises a largely al-fresco series of terraces and awnings with VIP areas, three bars, and plenty of room to circulate and mingle. Surrounded by dense Mediterranean greenery and with the capacity for 1,500 people, it's the ideal venue for a long night of revelry. Palms, cacti, drapes and coloured lights provide the atmosphere, and there's a long list of wines, long drinks and cocktails. International DJs, themed events and festivals provide the peaks to a full summer programme.

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Nightlife

Arsenal • Zadar

Set in an expansive renovated 18th-century warehouse, Arsenal is unique in Croatia, in terms of size, ambience and the sheer variety of events and attractions. These include a gallery, cocktail bar and a popular à la carte restaurant upstairs. The spacious stage hosts world music, local klapa choral singing, name DJs and local bands. The sound is superb, thanks to installation by the Garden crew, and there’s a show of some kind most evenings. Tables between the stage and the bar allow for lounging, sipping and snacking from the extensive menu – the space is cleared for gigs and dancing.

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Clubs

KSET • Zagreb

KSET is an excellent, adventurous venue for live music and DJs, with events taking place three or four nights a week. Well worth the hassle of finding, KSET has actively promoted new bands for decades, an oasis for underground, post-rock, Americana, avant-jazz, punk, rap, ethno and lots of other stylistically diverse artists. With a 400-person capacity this intimate and friendly space is the ideal venue in which to catch a band on the cusp of the big time. The choice of drinks is limited to beer, wine and fruit juices, but prices are rock-bottom.

Read more