Exit Festival 2011 Recap avec Videos!

July 10, 2011

When I first saw the lineup for Exit 2011 I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of the big names. The one that caught my attention the most was Jamiroquai, and that was right after going up to Vienna to see them, so I wasn’t particularly thrilled. Indeed, the crowd-pulling lineup was a bit weak, but where it really delivered for me was with some of the smaller artists. As you could guess, I spent a grand majority of my time by a stage that focused on bass-heavy sounds.

Being that Novi Sad (where Exit is) is only an hour or so north, I opted to simply come home every day rather than finding somewhere to stay within Novi Sad. It wasn’t a genius call, being that riding a hot and crowded train home at 0800 every morning for a few hours after going nuts the whole night kinda sucks. At any rate, I survived to tell the story.

Day 1: The first group to be seen was Beirut. I hadn’t listened to much of their stuff, but Vanja and Petar (folks I went with) are big fans. Their music was certainly good, but not the sort of thing I wanted to listen to standing up in a crowd. I eventually lost interest and headed to the Main Stage where Magnetic Man and Digital Mystikz were starting a bit later, Vanja caught up awhile later. Magnetic Man was a good 30 minutes late due to technicals and their performance was a bit lackluster in my opinion, it was also decidedly lacking in a third member, Skream, who is apparently becoming/has become a father. Sgt. Pokes was doing a good job of getting the crowd going, as usual, but the act that really stuck with me that night was Digital Mystikz a bit later on. They stayed on the decks until about 0600 which was pretty awesome. Most of their set was comprised of typical DMZ sounds, lots of slow, minimal bass.

After Digital Mystikz we headed back for the train station. We were able to find seats, which was sort of nice, but the train was really hot and I was irritated and uncomfortable, so I didn’t sleep much. Needless to say, getting home around 10am I crashed hard and stayed that way until 1800 or so.

Day 2: I woke up and relaxed at home a bit before we headed to the train station for round two. MIA was the headliner for that night and Vanja was really excited to see her. After a good bit of crowd navigation we made it up to the front where some other friends were. MIA wasn’t particularly interesting, but the bass was loud at the very least. Her vocals were muffled and distorted, and I’m pretty sure they were running through some sort of effects box so you really couldn’t hear what she was saying at all. The beats weren’t bad though, and there were a few dancers so the performance itself was pretty fun. At one point she also brought up a good 50 girls from the audience to dance on stage.

After MIA I headed straight to the Happynovisad Stage (who came up with these names?) for Oneman, Loefah, and Boddika. This, in addition to local badbwoy Rasheed proved to be a solid six hour session of pure SWAMP81 menace. Oneman can only be described as a magician behind the decks, the guy has the authority and style to mix all sorts of musical genres while keeping the crowd moving, case in point him finishing his bass-heavy/glitch hop/dubstep/future bass set with The Police’s Roxanne, and it went off (unfortunately I accidentally deleted the video), also notice his inclusion of Tes La Rok’s remix of Uncle Sam’s Round the World Girls. After that, dubstep veteran and owner of SWAMP81 records, Loefah, got on. Loefah has been one of my favorite dubstep producers for a long time and I’m loving the new sound SWAMP81 is pushing too. It’s a super minimal, super bass-heavy, super techy, all-around deep and pulsing future bass that’s reaching back to its roots of various subgenres of techno and house; as DOTS describes it: “Chicago-style-but-not-strictly-house-post-dubstep-aaargh-i-hate-that-term-kinda-low-slung-hip-hop-sped-up-+-808+slightly-Jukey. It’s actually really difficult to pin-point although there’s definitely a distinctive SWAMP sound.” The crowd was absolutely loving it too, which made the vibe that much better. Loefah’s entire set was fantastic and made a smooth transition into Boddika’s equally bad ass set a bit later on. DJ Rasheed, a well-known dubstep DJ out of Belgrade finished off the night with a similar SWAMP81 vibe until 0700.

The train on the way back was packed, so I wasn’t able to find a place to sit. I ended up sticking my head out the window for most of the time in an attempt to stay awake, but I think I slumped against the aisle a few times and dozed off. It was a good 30 degrees by the time I made it home at 10am, and it was only getting warmer. I had a feverishly bad sleep that day due to the heat, so I woke up a few hours earlier than the day before and tried to keep cool.

Day 3: We got to Novi Sad a bit earlier with the intention of meeting up with our friend Doris, but that didn’t pan out. Instead we sat at a cafe overlooking the Danube and Petrovaradin Fortress (where Exit is) and got a few beers to start off the night. The main attraction for the third day was Jamiroquai. Musically, it was a great concert, but the crowd was quite annoying. There was lots of general drunkenness, spilling of beers, and pushing. Jamiroquai, however, still didn’t play Virtual Insanity or Runaway… so I guess I’ll need to see them in concert again!

After Jamiroquai it was off to the Happynovisad Stage again for some more bass. Up next we had Girl Unit, whose dancefloor hits include popular Wut and Showstoppa. I generally knew what I was getting into, being that I’ve heard his mixes on a number of occasions, but what came next was simply the best DJ set I’ve heard in a long time, and easily the best that Exit 2011 had to offer. He frequently switched between the crunchy and bass-heavy sounds of various subgenres of future bass or post dubstep (if you want to call it that) to the grimy and crunked-out glitch hop remixes of mainstream rap tunes. The crowd, me included, was going absolutely wild also. Bok Bok took up the decks after Girl Unit, his set was solid also, but by this time I was just worn out from going nuts over Girl Unit and didn’t have a ton more energy in me. Vanja was feeling similar, so we decided to take off at the end of Bok Bok’s set.

We weren’t used to leaving this early, so we didn’t know if the train or the bus would leave first. We got to the bus station and asked, it turns out we just barely missed the bus, so we headed to the train station to check things out. Vanja asked when the train was leaving and the guy indicated that it should be leaving right then. We went running up the stairs only to hear the whistle blowing. I gave up, but saw the train on the first platform as I was nearing the end of the stairs so I sprinted for it. It was already moving at this point, but the door was still open and the conductor waved me on. We ran up and hopped on while it was still moving, safe. This ride wasn’t much better, still hot, still crowded. Fortunately it was an express train, so that in addition to the fact that we left considerably earlier meant we got back to Belgrade by 0700 or so, before it got absurdly hot (like it is now).

Conclusion: I had an amazing time. It’s a tough call to identify what the all-around best part of the festival was, though. As I mentioned earlier, Girl Unit’s set was my definite favorite, but the rest of that night doesn’t really compare to the six hour SWAMP81 marathon of the night before. With that being said, the best single set, in my opinion, was Girl Unit, but the best night all-around was the second night. Also big shouts to the MCs Sgt. Pokes, P Money, and MC Chunky, all of them did a phenomenal job of keeping the crowd moving and tastefully included their own lyricism when it was called for, boh!

Bass music, to me, is directly proportional to quality of life. It’s been a bit since I’ve been that stimulated by cutting edge, new sounds and I’m stoked to be experiencing this wave while it’s happening. Dubstep, as it were, is giving way to some really exciting new genres of electronic music. If Exit showed me one thing, it’s that Outlook Festival in September is going to be even more bad ass (peep the lineup if you don’t believe me).

On a completely unrelated note, dresses and high tops (preferably Dunks) are pretty much unequivocally the best outfit ever for girls.

Catch you all on the flip.

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