Serbian festival returns for 11th year

Set in the heart of Serbia’s Novi Sad, four-day Exit Festival again drew Britons in their thousands to see an international line-up that this year included the Chemical Brothers, Faith No More, Missy Elliott, Placebo, Pendulum, the Klaxons, Mika and David Guetta.

Now in its 11th year, the festival has now become an annual pilgrimage to Eastern Europe for many UK dwellers wanting to party and this year was no exception – again, a Briton fell off the edge of the castle but (more luckily than last year’s victim) sustained only non-fatal injuries. Pissed English people aside, the sun kept itself a part of the celebrations and ensured next to no sleep for late night revelers seeking solace in scorching hot tents.

Inside festival grounds, the first night had everyone excited about LCD Soundsystem and to a lesser degree, Mika. By night’s end, however, it would be safe to say many had reversed their thoughts on this matter. While they did play the hits like “Daft Punk is Playing at my House” and even a random cover of Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind”, LCD’s set was perhaps a bit too proggy for a festival atmosphere and left me wanting a little more.

Mika, on the other hand, impressed with his happy-go-lucky pop tunes and even brought along a somewhat phallic, giant blow-up stilettoed leg for the ride. Up against the UK singer, US outfit Yeasayer did well to entertain the remains of the festival crowd with their experimental rock while later that evening dance fanatics were treated with massive sets from DJ Shadow and Miike Snow.

A relatively quiet second night featured Placebo as headliners, with sets from Does It Offend You Yeah? and the Horrors also generating interest. While the Horrors were perhaps not best suited to such a festival (and the lack of crowd proved this), DIOYY definitely got the thumbs-up from festivalgoers. Placebo, meanwhile, drummed out their hits and a few new numbers. Frontman Molko did look like the touring trail had taken a little out of him but new drummer Forrest made all the difference.

A big third-day favourite was the Klaxons, who by set end had the crowd pumping with favourites including “Golden Skans” and “It’s Not Over Yet”. Keeping the energy high, Royksopp and special guest Karin (the Knife/Fever Ray) delivered a smashing set and left the audience jittery for headliner Missy Elliott.

After much hype, Misdemeanour Elliott finally appeared but – as so often reported with the US hip-hop superstar – she managed to procrastinate from actually singing with costume changes (from tracksuit to tracksuit), coming into the audience (which was manic), back-up dancer solos (which were admittedly impressive), a song from her new protégé (one forgets the name due to lack of relevance), signing her shoes and giving her DJ the last few tunes. All of which was fun and entertaining, and would’ve been fine – had she been a new artist with no back catalogue and not one of the main reasons the crowd had come to Exit.

The night really got underway as almost the entire festival headed to the dance arena for David Guetta. I stood a safe distance and rightfully so – the next day was full of stories of agitated crowd fights and near-fainting episodes.

The final day loomed with a heavy-hitting line-up including Faith No More, Chemical Brothers, Pendulum and Crystal Castles. UK-dwelling Aussie drum n’ bassers Pendulum were undoubtedly a festival highlight. Unfortunately billed against the World Cup football final, they still pulled a hefty crowd and made sure it was jumping from start to finish.

After a lengthy wait, Faith No More followed with a set that showed – in full force – the extent of frontman Mike Patton’s insanity. It included a wedding singer style cover of Peaches & Herb’s “Reunited”, a couple of tributes to new World Cup champions Spain, a short rendition of Michael Jackson’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and a dangerous clamber up the camera pole (whilst singing) in between some of FNM’s greatest including “Ashes to Ashes.”

How did I top this spectacle? Kept my position in the mosh and waited. The Chemical Brothers soon arrived with their incredible light show and all thoughts turned to dance, dance, dance! These guys never fail to disappoint.

One sweaty night later and I was well and truly spent. Overall, as an Exit virgin I was well impressed with the organisation, cleanliness and general fun-loving vibe of the event. Unfortunately one of the biggest downers was some of the UK attendees, who used the opportunity to binge-drink themselves to stupidity (which didn’t take long) instead of drinking themselves to, perhaps, a good time. The Serbians seemed to have a hold of that idea. But then again, there’s always next year!

Words by Jen Wilson



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