Festival in a fortress
Trip Start Dec 26, 2009
137Trip End Nov 08, 2010
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Where I stayed
Non-festival related things
Due to late booking our hotel was on the other side of town, but taxis in Novi Sad are super cheap so it wasn't a problem. The hotel was great and had its own restaurant and everything, so we spent our days nestled in our room sleeping or watching movies and TV series we downloaded
- I rediscovered that hairdressing is not ever going to be a fallback option for me. Score so far this trip - Fringe: 2, Amanda: 0. This is the first music festival I've been to with short hair and it was so much easier to handle!
- Ben discovered how awesome The Big Bang Theory is. So many giggles. I can't watch it without remembering hours spent in Craig's lab at uni watching it instead of studying.
- Ben finally made me watch Top Gun. He's been trying for years.
- We discovered the hotel had a great free breakfast spread but missed it half the time because we were too tired.
EXIT has one of the coolest locations in the history of festivals. It's held in a UNESCO-heritage listed fortress on top of a hill near the centre of town. The entrance is near the river, on the side without a moat, but you still have to climb flights of old stone stairs and go through a long tunnel piercing the walls. Most of the minor stages are in the fortress itself, scattered among the buildings
It looks quite odd in some parts - giant cables taped across old flagstones, temporary steel staircases giving access to crumbling moats and wire fencing making the ancient stone fences higher so drunk people don't go tumbling off the walls! But the overall effect is awesome.
EXIT went for four nights, from around 8pm to 5 or 6am. We tended to arrive between 9 and 11 and leave by 3, since that was when all the best acts were on. And it was impossible to get a taxi at 8pm! The roads around the entrance were blocked to cars, so we always had to walk through streets lined with stalls selling clothing, cold drinks, etc, etc. By Serbia's standards, EXIT was expensive, but by ours it was deliciously cheap. $3.50 for an energy drink. $2 for a beer. And the stalls outside were cheaper again
We spent our first night there exploring, seeing all the stages (there were 13!!!) and trying to find our way around. Going across the drawbridge and through the walls delighted us. There were lots of food and drink stalls, and a few selling t-shirts, but it wasn't commercialised the way most festivals are. So refreshing!
After the first night, we knew our way around, since we'd gone to the info desk and accepted a map off them. Unfortunately, the info people had directed us clear across the complex from where we were trying to get (to entrance 2 rather than stage 2) and we missed out on a dance act, since it takes half an hour to get from one side to the other through all the crowds!
We caught taxis there and back, and since the hotel always called them on the way there they used the metre, so it was about 300 dinars (less than $5). When we tried to get one going home the first night, the first driver we asked quoted us 1,000 and wouldn't go lower!! Ah, no. We're not stupid anymore. We got burnt that way in Chile, on our very first taxi ride, and it's never happening again. South American bargaining skills came back and we got home each night for 400 dinar, which was okay, although we usually had to approach a few different drivers
I shan't bore you with every act we saw, and some of them we don't know the names of, but here are the highlights!
Mika - Awesome, high-energy, colourful show. Amusing background cartoons and props. Really enjoyed it, especially considering I haven't listened to him in ages. Got a couple of new songs to download!
PLACEBO - My favourite, of course. More than makes up for missing them at Soundwave earlier this year. Great range of songs from all their albums, but mostly from their latest, which I don't actually have so I only know the singles. We got pretty close and for once there were not too many tall people blocking my view, so I could see! And to all those people who don't like the live... It was amazing and I loved it!
Does It Offend You, Yeah? - Pumping show that the crowd really got into. They were in a stage in the fortress itself rather than the main stage, so it was easier to see without the huge crowds. Lots of flashy lights and good live set, but disappointed they missed my favourite song, Let's Make Out.
Pendulum - As always, quality show. Fabulous mix of old and new, instrumental and vocals, and amazing light show. So pleased they haven't been caught up in dubstep - it's still all electro. I don't remember anyone playing dubstep at the festival actually... but to be fair we didn't spend a lot of time at the dance stage since it was so out of the way.
Bonaparte - Some random band we stumbled on. Music was okay, but there were several people on stage whose role just seemed to be to create hilarious chaos. Wacky costumes, strange dances and fights...
Missy Elliot - Had good potential, and she sang some good songs, but she spent a ridiculous amount of time doing things other than singing, eg, throwing shoes into the crowd, changing her outfit, talking about anything and everything, introducing all her dancers and giving them several minutes each to do individual dances and going into the crowd. Actually that last bit was pretty cool but it took her a long time to get organised and get people to move.
Chemical Brothers - I'm going to get slammed for this, I know, but they've really only got 3 or 4 fantastic songs (and those were damn awesome to be there for, I love Galvanize) and the rest is pretty meh. Doesn't get the right atmosphere, and the crowd wasn't as excited. Lights and background were still excellent though.
We've got videos that'll give you an idea of the magnitude of all of this, since I can't do it with words. Rest assured it was amazing, we're soooo glad we went, and our ears and eyes have not yet recovered and we're not sure if they ever will. Lol.
Peace, love and music,
Amanda and Ben