EXIT Festival 2008 - Rated!

Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia. 10-13 July

EXIT Festival 2008 - Rated!

15 July 2008

Overall - 7/10

Any festival set in a fortress is bound to be something a bit special, and EXIT truly is. The atmosphere generated by the mix of Serbs, Brits, Aussies and other Europeans is incredible and anyone searching for an alternative to the traditional festival model should make the journey. It’s only for the hardcore though, EXIT is four consecutive nights, bulging with more than 50,000 people so it’s not for the feint hearted. 

Getting There And Back - 4/10

Obviously it’s in Serbia so a certain amount of effort is required and flights are cheap if you book early enough. The nearest airport is Belgrade which can be reached from a number of UK airports and once there it’s only an hour to Novi Sad. If you stay in the campsite the walk to the festival is just 5-10 minutes over the bridge. It takes a bit longer if you’re staying in town but you’re likely to get more daytime sleeping done. Serbia in July is ridiculously hot.

The Site - 9/10

The site is such a huge part of EXIT. The fortress boasts a maze of tunnels, turrets, bridges and other features that look as if they were built for a festival. Obviously they weren’t, but you can have a lot of fun simply wandering round discovering new stages and sound systems round almost every corner, and you can always have a break at the bars overlooking the Danube. The main stage is a fairly average arena, but definitely loud enough and fairly easy to negotiate, however the dance arena is one of the most eye-popping spectacles you’ll see at any festival in the world with 20,000 packed together on its outdoor, split levels.

Atmosphere -  7/10

The Serbians are quite a chilled bunch generally, so the atmosphere would never rival the likes of T In The Park or Reading, but there was a real sense of excitement buzzing round the site throughout. Whereas we’re spoilt for choice in the UK, EXIT is Serbia’s only major festival and it truly is one of the most special festivals we’ve ever come across as a result. It provides a real release and the locals relish in it, taking deep pride in their wonderful country by welcoming the tens of thousands of visitors with open arms.     

Uppers

Francois K – 7/10 

The New York DJ injected some soul and class into the opening night’s proceedings, his journeyman set weaving piano house, techno, acid and electro into a seamless mix. We met the editor of DJ magazine who claimed she had been “touched by the hand of God”. Who are we to argue.    
 
Soulwax – 8/10

They played the early morning set in the dance arena in their 2 Many DJs guise, but it was their live Soulwax set which truly blew the mind. Their grasp of technology is second to none and the sounds they produce never fail to astound.

Juliette And The Licks - 7/10

Serbians like to rock and this was the rock set of the weekend despite showings from Sex Pistols and Primal Scream. Juliette put her all into the performance, strutting her stuff to ‘Sticky Baby’ and a cover of disco classic ‘Hot Stuff’. She even sent a young fan into tearful hysterics after throwing her a head band.

The Hives – 8/10

A typically self glorifying show, the Swedes were on brilliant form, goading the crowd into party mode before each song and teaching them a lesson in "loving The Hives" during their Serbian debut. We fell in love with them all over again.

Claude Von Stroke – 8/10

The Californian DJ may come across as a goofy stoner but his brand of wonky electronica is as intelligent as you’ll here anywhere, all siren swirls and chipped beats combined with such imagination and technical brilliance that you can be left with your jaw on the floor forgetting to dance

Other higlhlights

Manu Chao, Primal Scream, Skream & Benga, Dubfire, Gogol Bordello, The Streets, Positive Vibrations reggae collective, Booka Shade

Downers

Sex Pistols – 4/10

The band resembled one of their many tribute bands, coming across tired and uninterested. Starting their set with ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Lazy Sod’ perhaps best summed them up, and the most interesting moment was when Johnny Rotten started praying to Allah to the confusion of the crowd. 

The Dust - 2/10

We always have to moan about something and while the weather was near perfect, it meant the dry conditions created loads of dust around the site. People resorted to face masks to stop them inhaling the kicked up clouds.
 
Random Events

Festival goers danced on portaloos to get a good view of the headliners. A sign at the gate read ‘No drugs, no guns, no Nazis’. Guns are still legal in Serbia and it seems there’re still a few right wing nutters. Fortunately, we didn’t see either. 

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