Europe's Splash! 2008 Festival Review

Europe celebrated the 11th edition of its Splash! Festival. For about 5 years the festival is known to be Europe’s biggest (and wettest) Hip-Hop gathering. About a hundred acts performed on four stages within a time span of three days. A lot of them were semi-pro non-English Rap acts. A few of them were American up and comers like Saigon and The Cool Kids. A couple of them were household festival names like Little brother, Dizzee Rascal, M.O.P. and D.I.T.C. (the latter showing up with O.C., Diamond and Finesse). Making thousands and thousands of heads take off to the Leipzich peninsula for the weekend.

Friday kicked off with Dead Prez, introducing their upcoming album Information Age and of course taking us back with a bass line that is bigger than the genre itself. Later that evening M.O.P. banged out a couple of their hardcore classics including “Ante Up” and “How About Some Hardcore”.

A feature of Splash! is that all day long you are watching some concerts with a crowd consisting of a few thousand people. But then when the night falls and the big names are about to perform, the crowd quadruples and all of a sudden the cute little park transforms into a pitch nothing inferior to any well known open-air rock festival. Same thing tonight, right after dark, close to Friday night’s closing act: Ice Cube.

Accompanied by WC, the whole set actually, relied heavily on his more recent work including tracks from Laugh Now, Cry Later. In addition to all his already released tracks from his next album including his latest single “Do Your Thang”. After a while, he did some of the sacred N.W.A. tracks bringing things back to the essence.

To start Saturday off, Saigon warmed up the crowd with an energetic performance. Little Brother kicked it hard a few hours later. Even though Daniel Brockington’s vocals on the hooks were missed on stage, LB got the vibe just right as was to be expected.

The crowd was still awaiting the festival’s biggest name: Jay-Z. The show started off as clean, colorful and stylistic as it would end. After coming up doing the first verse of American Gangster’s “Say Hello”, he quickly announced ‘The Roc Boys in the building tonight!’ in order to let the horn section set in the tune of “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)”. When the chorus of “U Don’t Know” kicked in as the third track, Hova already made his point “you are now rocking with the best”.

From this song on it went straight through the roof. Jay brought along some incredible video walls, almost making a light show redundant. The visuals were as extraordinary as they were complementary to what happened on stage. Hova’s own team of engineers laid down an incredible sound, better than anything heard on the rest of the festival.

The grand finale caused straight goose bumps as “Encore’s” version with Linkin Park progressed into its original state with ten thousands of people chanting the familiar Ho-Va, Ho-Va.

On Sunday the contrast couldn’t be bigger with the night before. Heavy enduring rainfall re-transformed the bright, celebrating pitch of twelve hours ago, into one big gloomy mud pool. Plenty of people went home before sunset, missing J-Live rocking pretty hard in one of the tents. At night D.I.T.C. blasted the festival’s last golden-age classics, providing a worthy end to an impressive series of performances and a great festival. Three days of rain, but still Splash! 2008 was some overseas Hip-Hop at its finest.