EXIT Festival 2009

Novi Sad, Serbia

9th-12th July 2009

EXIT festival was formed in the heat of a revolutionary situation and, a decade later, the event held in the citadel overlooking the Serbian town of Novi Sad has an enviable reputation as one of the edgiest and best music festivals in Europe.

EXIT isn’t easy to get to from the UK, and Serbia is a country still getting over the war of ten years ago. But this does add to the sense of adventure, you really do feel like your reaching the edge of our Safe European Home.

There’s an array of big-name, mostly UK acts, on the bill. The Manic Street Preachers play a sterling set featuring songs from throughout their career and Patti Smith also plays all the best from her back catalogue with a passion and verve that betrays her age.

Kraftwerk have stunning visuals, and it’s great to see them work through classics like ‘Computer Love’ and ‘The Model’. You have to ask though, with their trademark clinical stage presence, why not just get the DVD?

Away from the main arena, the stages are mostly quite small and unimpressive affairs. The Dance Arena, however, is something altogether better. With raking that goes right up the side of the castle walls, it’s a great place to dance on till the sun rises.

And the sun does rise. EXIT is an event for late nighters. There’s no music till after 7pm, and some stages keep on going till 9am. After which, there’s no option but return to your accommodation or campsite.

Ah the campsite. It is a LONG walk from the main entrance. That said, the facilities are good and it does have a lively festival feeling in the day, which I would assume just isn’t there for the large number of EXIT punters who choose to stay in hotels or rented accommodation.

Prodigy top the bill on the final night, and it seems like every young person in Serbia have come to see them. We’re less impressed, they just seem to lack to mind-blowing OOMPH they had at their peak.

They’re aren’t a patch on final main stage act, Chase and Status, whose constant pounding DnB energy keeps us going that little bit longer than we otherwise might.

EXIT is a great festival, but it isn’t perfect. It’s not nearly as radical or intense as its reputation would make out, navigating the site is awkward and the difficulty in getting to the site from the UK is painful.

If you want to experience some big name acts in a location that’s a little bit out there, then head for the EXIT. If not, there are many other European festivals were you get a similar fix with a lot less grief.

By Kenn Taylor

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