Serbia's "Exit" summer fest isn't just a music festival; the open-air festival is an urban bohemian...experience.
Which stands to reason - not too many festivals this year include Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Cypress Hill, Adam Freeland, Neneh Cherry, Senor Coconut and Goldfrapp on the main stage, with heavy-duty backup by DJs Roger Sanchez, Timo Maas, Way Out West, Steve Lawler, X-Press 2, Satoshi Tomiie, Lexicon Avenue, Technasia, Pako, DJ Hyper and Smokin' Jo. All in a fortress on the Danube River.
Never mind the fact that U.S. bombing raids gutted Serbia's communications infrastructure; "Screw that," said the 'Exit' folks, "we're still gonna party like it's 1999." And there it was.
The Petrovaradin Fortress, for those who like to know these things, was historically called the "Gibraltar on the Danube," and served as a major defensive stronghold.
Construction on the fortress started in 1692 and didn't wrap until 80+ years later, in 1780. Historians blame long lunch breaks.
Actually, we just made that up. But it's a good working hypothesis, eh? Can debate that over lunch...
And, just a dash for people who'd rather know about stuff like outrageous artist tour riders - tough noogies. There are none, only this blurb about U.S. import, "Cypress Hill": "The crew of 'Cypress Hill' didn't have any special or exotic propositions and wishes for lunch and dinner, such as dove eggs, stuffed giraffe neck meat or eucalyptus steaks - they just stated the number of meals required."
Apart from the almost mystical atmosphere, the fortress has something a lot more useful for "Exit"
- fantastic acoustics.
So, back to the music..."Exit" is the biggest festival in Southeastern Europe, and draws the best underground and emerging artists, along with established artists. Forget Ibiza -- this month, party people are making like the barbarian hordes at Petrovaradin.
For the easily bored, the festival offers more than twenty different sound stages: Voda Main Stage, Energis DJ Arena, Lav Balkan Fusion Stage, Lav Progressive Stage, Sinalco Jamaican Stage, Axe Latino Stage, Blues and Jazz, Deep, Down & Dirty Stage, Electronic Culture Space, Art Stage, Crossroad Stage, Future Shock Stage, DJ Superstar Stage, Café del Mar Stage, Extreme Sport Stage...
That's just for starters. They've also got cutting-edge art exhibits, extreme sport events, and one of the biggest open-air dance floors in Europe.
In Europe this month? Do not miss this one.
Find it: Petrovaradin Fortress, Danube River, Novi Sad, Serbia
Get there: Festival buses leave from Belgrade. Call the festival line, they'll hook you up.
Get info: (Serbia) +381-21-420-735
Get info: (London) +020-7240-5252
Find more music festival listings in the July 2004 issue of "Arte Six".