Sunday, July 09, 2006

EXIT, day 1

We didn’t get to experience much of the festival atmosphere on the first day of Exit. Arriving to Novi Sad at 8, there was no time to lounge about, so we joined the streams of people flowing down city streets, across the bridge and onto the fortress.

Everything went like clockwork, and somewhat mechanically as we made our way past ticket control and police, got some drinks and arrived to the main stage, where the Cardigans appeared at 15 to 9, right according to schedule.

This seems to have surprised a lot of people, as it wasn’t too crowded in front of the main stage. In the past years Exit has become progressively more accurate. In the first few years, you could never tell who was playing where, and when.

The Cardigans were lovely. There was a friendly sing-along atmosphere as they played all their hits and some new songs. Some hard-core fans were there, screaming “we love you, Nina”, as she started playing her mouth-accordion. It was nice to hear Love Fool, and after some screaming and roaring, there was an encore, and they played Favorite Game, which is my personal favorite.

During the half an hour break after the concert we decided not to move, to keep our good spot close to the stage, and it was becoming increasingly crowded. Getting to the bar and back in these conditions is an impossible task, especially with a glass of beer, so pouring beer into a water bottle is a smart thing to do.

Franz Ferdinand appeared with a bang, and from the first moment the crowd went wild. For me, at first, it didn’t feel too right, the music was great, but the vocals were a bit weak, and there was a lot of pushing and shoving as drunken kids started to throw themselves around.

But very soon it got much better. You could feel the positive energy (and the heat) rising from the people, and on stage FF gave it their best, so we jumped and screamed without stopping. With every song a hit and an ecstatic crowd, some obligatory phrases in Serbian, a historic act of reconciliation with dedicating a song to Gavrilo Princip, and some frantic drumming in the end, the concert was a huge success. The spectacular fireworks that followed seemed very much in place.

Having learned nothing from previous years, at 1, I insisted that we head to the train station immediately, as I hoped there would be a way of getting back to Belgrade before morning. Off course we ended up sleeping on a bench waiting for the first train at 3 am. Serbian railways leave much to be desired, but arriving to the unfinished but already decrepit future Belgrade Central station, I was just too happy to be home.

Today I hope to get to Novi Sad and Exit a bit earlier. I don’t think the experience is complete without walking through town, or having lunch on the grass in Dunavski park. I want to check out the other stages as well. At least, now we know the train schedule, there is no need to rush. I’m sorry I missed Morrissey on Friday, but I’m sure tonight will be wonderful too.

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