“Here, pop culture deities roam freely, interact and converse with each other without any pretense. Casually dressed before their transformation into their stage personas, they return after their performances, tired and satisfied, ready to embrace the entire world” – Kojić and Ambrozić describe at the very beginning of the report, introducing us to the festival’s Gorki List Main Stage backstage and highlighting freedom as the absolute leitmotif of EXIT: “At EXIT, everyone feels free. Truly free, as every human being inherently is. And being one’s own person – that’s the most valuable commodity in the modern mercantile world. Even the biggest music stars are acutely aware of these nuances. Especially them.“
We learn precisely how performers manifested freedom at this year’s edition of EXIT festival from the on-site report by these two distinguished music connoisseurs.
Viagra Boys – A New Rock ‘n’ Roll Perspective
“Viagra Boys must know a thing or two about freedom. They seem utterly nonchalant about everything, but backstage, they’re asking the critical questions: “What’s this place like?”, “What’s this festival about” and “Is there any more beer”? Led by Sebastian Murphy – the most tattooed among all his Swedish colleagues on stage – these sturdy guys define a new rock ‘n’ roll perspective in the 2020s,” believe the two music critics. “Viagra Boys invigorated the kickoff to EXIT festival at Main Stage with confidence, Nordic cool anarchism, and high standards of human awareness,“ they add.
The Prodigy – Veterans of a Lifelong Battle for the Right to Be Themselves
“The Prodigy undoubtedly know all about the cost of freedom. They brought us so much freedom with that exalted concert in Belgrade in 1995 at the Pionir Hall, right at the peak of their fame, just before their most famous album, “The Fat of the Land,” from which they performed their defining number “Breathe” live for the first time, and “Firestarter” for the second time, igniting a region for which both compositions seem to be purposefully crafted,” Kojić and Ambrozić reminisce, adding: “Now, after four colossal performances at EXIT festival, The Prodigy return as veterans of a lifelong battle for the right to be themselves. Their concert is profoundly touching but still wildly relevant in the new millennium, as it’s not burdened by nostalgia except for that one moment when the whole EXIT stood still to pay tribute to Keith Flint. Maxim lowered his hands motionless, and history spun, the history of this part of the world interwoven with global history at that point in time.”
Sofi Tukker – Freedom of Movement and Spontaneous Joy
The vibrant duo Sofi Tukker are also singled out by the experienced pair of music critics as ambassadors of freedom through both music and movement. “A small firework display of hands, legs, and bodies surpasses any pyrotechnics, blending effectively with the rhythm like a multicolored whirl that captivates the audience with its spontaneous cheerfulness,” Zorica Kojić and Dragan Ambrozić describe. “Suddenly, human movement can express a dimension of music that often remains unspoken. It’s fantastic that we can still discover something, like a message behind the pop melodies that Sofi Tukker generously share.”
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Epica – Love, Faith, and Reliance on Epic Heroes
The symphonic metal band Epica also left a powerful impression. Kojić and Ambrozić describe them as a “band of wonderful people who truly enjoy their work.” “This is about grand themes, the human quest for answers to eternal questions, and genuine truth-seeking in a collision with a dishonest world full of fatal challenges. We really fell in love with Epica, as did their ocean of fans – because there’s no affectation or posturing here – just love, faith, and reliance on epic heroes,” they highlight, adding an insight from behind the scenes: “Being in the dressing room with this band is a respite from the madness. Everyone humbly knows their place and carries out the job for which they’re here.”
Skrillex – “Big Bang” of Creativity on the Decks
“Seas of fans tremble under his feet as soon as they spot him bursting onto the stage. He reciprocates with “Zvižduk u 8” by Đorđe Marjanović, as the first track – an unparalleled tribute since it’s with this song that the modern history of local pop music begins.” This is how the start of Skrillex’s performance looked from the perspective of the two seasoned music connoisseurs. They describe this production wizard as a “phantasmagoria of DJ skill, a big bang of creativity on the decks and a crowned genius of new genre genetics principles,” adding that Skrillex remains incredibly humble and kind, behaving on stage “like a part of the massive EXIT tribe,” and is a “confident master of the initiation ritual for the musical universe.”
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“It’s hard to say what happened backstage because Skrillex is one of the most popular people ever to visit us, and he’s aware of it: against all protocol, he went to the fence separating Main Stage from the audience passage – to take countless pictures with a crowd of fans, mostly very young people, who will retell this unexpected encounter for years to come,” write Zorica Kojić and Dragan Ambrozić.
Wu-Tang Clan – Heralds of Universal Freedom
Finally, the greatest hip-hop group of all time, Wu-Tang Clan, was given the title of “heralds of universal freedom” by the two music critics, who described them as a “crew that undeniably has the right to talk about freedom, having fought for it with their muscles and words.”
“However, if you’ve ever perceived them as a closed brotherhood of tough Black guys, roaming New York for fun and spitting out brutal rhymes that petrify you like an encounter with an urban Gorgon – you’re on the wrong track because their humanity and respect for others is the main message they have to offer today,” say Kojić and Ambrozić, providing a glimpse behind the scenes: “Off-stage, they are a playful team of fans of good pizza with ketchup, no one bossing anyone around, everyone listening to everyone, especially their natural leader RZA, who arranges them like chess pieces (he even got to play a quick game of his favorite pastime with fellow chess enthusiast, Peđa Vukčević Bege Fank – it ended in a draw.”
Zorica Kojić and Dragan Ambrozić for web portal Nova.