Exit Festival 2014 Review – Saturday

Saturday morning saw the rains clear and a welcome dry and searing heat descend upon Novi Sad, much appreciated by the campers after the moist evening beforehand. The poolside was full with the bold and the beautiful of the continent with “DJ Dale” from local station AS Radio playing housey summer hits as people swam, basked, and slept in the shade on loungers.

I asked a couple of people what they thought of the festival so far:

Roya and Derik from Holland had decided to attend EXIT with a group of ten after previous summers at Sziget and Rockwerchter to try something new. EXIT was the next logical step in the european festival hierarchy and they had heard lots of good things about it from friends. They were a fan of the camp location for the ease of the supermarket, cafes and restaurants.

For Anja from Serbia Stromae and Rudimental was the standout performances of the weekend so far, but she was of the opinion that both the organisation and the weather had been better the year before. This seemed to be the general consensus amongst a lot of the returning natives and staff.

Now that it was officially the weekend the whole town of Novi Sad seemed to be immersed in Festival Fever. The half hour walk from the campsite to the grounds was crammed full of partygoers and everybody, visitors and locals alike, seemed to be soaking up the atmosphere. The banks of the Danube beneath the imposing fortress were lined with lively dudes and dudettes merry making as groups of scantily clad Serbian ladies maneuvered through the crowd selling shots of Rakjia, the Serbian “national” spirit.

Slowly people made their way across the bridge through the mass of humanity who easily took over the entire street. Buses crammed like tins of sardines had a tough time getting past the impromptu parade. Street vendors lined both sides making a killing off the convenience of cheap sunglasses and rave lights.

The sun had obviously worked its magic and there was a real sense of expectation in the air as the pilgrimage moved itself forward.

As usual the first players on the on the Main Stage were of Serbian origin, a nice touch for the festival as it gave home grown bands some exposure and pleased the large contingent of locals. Both Stray Dog featuring Tamara Milanovic and Negative played to a rapidly expanding audience which reached a healthy swell by the time sexy string duo 2 Cellos, began their crowd pleasing repertoire of well known tunes executed with gusto on electronic cellos accompanied by smouldering good looks and expressive facial expression to rival the “bass face” of Haim.

Midnight saw Saturday’s first headliner Damon Albarn take the stage for a set full of swagger and melancholy. Despite the large crowd that he drew the mood seemed slightly subdued, as his solo work lacked the bounce of his well known tracks with Blur or Gorialiaz and he seemed slightly jaded with the whole thing, even throwing beer over the photographers in the photo pit at one point in some sort of anti-press sentiment. Despite this he found himself playing to a captive audience who although not moving much listened intently while his musicians went from one grinding guitar solo to the next, and he finished to raucous applause.

The night was only really starting to kick off, and the good weather had people all hyped up for a long haul of partying.

At every stage in the fortress, big and small, there was dancing to be found. Smooth tuneage at the Positive Vibrations Reggae Stage kept people pretty much skanking all night and a rip-roaring set by Drum and Bass stalwarts NZ Shapeshifter went down a treat at Huawei Fusion Stage.

A huge and expectant crowd throbbed in the Main Stage under a heavy full moon in expectation for Skrillex, who kept his fans waiting for almost half an hour before appearing in a blast of light and noise. He clambered and jumped around on the decks like a man possessed, dropping big bassy hook after big bassy hook accompanied by a blinding laser show that had the entire fortress happily blasted with beats and luminance.

Bass remained the name of the game at the Main Stage with Gorgon City and Shadow Child keeping things bouncing well past dawn.

The good times were continued over at the MTS Dance Arena which was a was an undulating sea of topless and bikini clad humanity under the blood red sunrise as big hitters Afrojack, Tiga, Heidi Vs Kim and Foxman rolled out feel good minimal and techno summer beats well past 6 am.

The night never really ended, and as the sun climbed rapidly into the sky the hardcore found themselves making their way back to base camp under a clear blue sky with ears still ringing and hearts still pumping after a long night of thoroughly modern rhythms.

EXIT was now past the halfway mark, but you got the feeling that the party had only just begun.

Public Enemy to headline Standon Calling

Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Public Enemy have seen over 20 years in the music business including hits such as ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ and ‘Fight The Power’. Members Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Khari Wynn, DJ Lord and Professor Griff will  bring  the  beats  of  Long  Island,  New  York  to  Hertfordshire  for  Standon Calling this summer. A similarly pioneering figure of hip-hop and fellow member of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame also confirmed for the festival is Grandmaster Flash. Internationally acclaimed live dance act Shapeshifters are set to take to the stage, they may be a long way from their New Zealand home but are sure to receive a rapturous welcome. 

East India Youth aka William Doyle counts Brian Eno amongst his fans, and now Standon Calling is in for a treat with his heady mix of Krautrock and ambient electronic sounds. Further hip-hop will be on offer courtesy of Young Fathers, their alternative take on the genre has received support from the likes of BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, NME and Drowned In Sound. A twin sister musical duo hailing from both Australia and Sweden, Say Lou Lou achieved a place of the BBC Sound of 2014 poll and are now the perfect ‘dream pop’ addition to the festival’s line-up.  

Elsewhere Standon Calling has bagged alternative-pop courtesy of Eliza & The Bear and duoThumpers. Indie from Norwegians Team Me, plus rock n’ roll from Domino records signing The Bohicas completes the additions for the second announcement. 

Shapeshifters new single ‘In Colour’ Review

New Zealand's Drum and Bass masters Shapeshifter are getting ready to release their latest single "In Colour" which comes from their New Zealand #1 album "Delta.” ‘In Colour’ is a fusion of electronic beats, mixed with fearless lyrics. A band traditionally known for its hard hitting drum and bass tunes, this track is a much more light-hearted version, nevertheless it’s sensational. ‘In colour’ is the fifth song on their latest album, ‘Delta.’ This album is bold, Shapeshifter morph time and time again and that’s what makes this album so exciting. From depth charge bass music, elastic electronic textures and barreling breakbeats to bedrocks of soul, jazz and rave that ground their experimentation

‘In Colour’ epitomizes the boldness of this latest album; the lyrics are powerful, encouraging the listener to want to make the world better and to ‘Let all the colours ignite tonight’. This track maybe a more lighthearted version of their traditional hard hitting drum and bass beats that encompass other tracks, but it maintains the unique Shapeshifter edginess’. With P Digsss amazing vocals, mixed with brilliant electronic intense beats this track will certainly have you dancing from the get-go. The track is catchy with intense energy which eludes an irrepressible joy,showcasing various people from across the globe, smiling, dancing and generally having fun. This track will certainly make you smile!

This is a great single with revolutionary electronic tones underpinning the whole album, it is far from cheesy, and the authenticity of its message sounds through. They are certainly breaking new ground with this album as well as setting themselves apart from the competition. This track is creative and the band have explored new territory whilst still maintaining that heavy beat. This track will certainly reach all corners of the globe.

On top of their mainstream success Shapeshifter have released records through legendry south London Drum and Bass label, Hospital Records. With the combination of mainstream and cutting-edge, this  band has certainly covered all bases.  We’re not the only people to love this brilliant new track, MTV Iggy state "Shapeshifter dole out a heavy dose of happiness in the video for “In Colour.” We dare you not to smile as the uplifting chorus pulses behind footage of people around the world dancing and laughing."

The new single ‘In color’ is released 16th September 2013.

Review by Jenny McCall

Tom Middleton hits the Deer Park Stage at The Big Chill

Confirmed for the arts programme are Fuel’s dance and sound spectacular Electric Hotel and The Simple Things in Life.

tom middletonTom Middleton, one half of Global Communication and a DJ in his own right, will be an integral part of The Big Chill this year. Having performed at every year of the festival for the last 16 years, 2011 sees Middleton host a stage of his own to build on that legacy. Now also added to his pleasantly hectic Big Chill schedule, a DJ set on the Deer Park Stage on Saturday featuring his expert blend of experimental, progressive and ambient electronic sounds.

Tom Middleton comments: “Fantastic to still be involved in The Big Chill! To have witnessed its growth and evolution from a humble 500 folk in a field to hosting 10’s of thousands of ‘Chillers’ at the glorious Eastnor Castle. And heart warming to see Festival Republic’s clear investment in preserving and expanding upon the original spirit of The Big Chill. The truly eclectic and entertaining line ups of classic artists and DJ’s to suit all tastes playing alongside the hottest new talent, with inspiring art installations, genuinely family friendly areas, the ultra chilled holistic therapies, and endless stalls punting a vast choice of ‘mouthgasmic’ global gastronomy. I’m looking forward to Djing and also curating a tastemaker space stacked with Function-One over the 3 nights showcasing the sickest underground emotive electronic and bass music Artists and DJ’s on the scene.

Another addition to the feast of offerings on the Deer Park Stage comes from the Brooklyn-based five-piece Here We Go Magic who will perform on Friday. Fronted by Luke Temple, Here We Go Magic was previously the moniker for Temple as a solo artist; however in 2009 he recruited four musicians to make the project a full live band. Having received praise from Pitchfork and a reported seal of approval from Thom Yorke, the audience can expect great things from the ethereal indie act.

Bringing skilfully arranged drum ‘n’ bass to The Big Chill will be NZ Shapeshifter, blending electronic sounds with heavy soul. The five-piece band, originating from New Zealand, are guaranteed to deliver monstrous live grooves that synthesize barrelling drum ‘n’ bass, cavernous dub soundscapes and pounding hard rock. NZ Shapeshifter’s energetic set takes place on The Revellers’ Stage on Saturday.

With support from the likes of Benji B and Giles Peterson to name but a few, Taylor McFerrin has been involved with music in many forms in addition to his own solo output. McFerrin has produced Brooklyn’s The Electric Baby, plays keyboards with cutting edge freestyle trio The Cell Theory and has played alongside his Grammy award-winning father, Bobby McFerrin. Rooted in 60’s soul but looking forward to the future sound of hip-hop, Taylor McFerrin mixes Rhodes, synths, samples and beat boxing to create his slick laid-back tunes which will play out on The People’s Ear Stage on Sunday.

The first additions to The Big Chill’s arts programme are also confirmed:

Fuel presents Electric Hotel, a lonely, bizarre and beautiful outdoor spectacle; a uniquely designed, fly-by-night hotel brought to vivid life through dance and sound by the team of David Rosenberg (director and co-founder of Shunt) and Frauke Requardt (choreographer, Pictures from an Exhibition at Sadler’s Wells/Young Vic) with Börkur Jónsson (designer, Woyzeck at Barbican, Metamorphosis at Lyric Hammersmith). Sitting on the outside looking in, the audience snatch glimpses of the do-not-disturb lives unfolding behind the floor to ceiling windows. Wearing headphones to eavesdrop on the internal spaces of the building they watch the residents in their private rooms: the natural habits, the unnatural fantasies and housekeeping of wildly varied quality.

Praised by The Guardian as “one of the most exciting and indispensable producing outfits working in British theatre todayFuel also presents The Simple Things in Life. Five short experiences to celebrate the simple things in life with Lewis Gibson, David Harradine, The London Snorkelling Team, Frauke Requardt and Barnaby Stone. A table with a story to tell, a band bursting at the seams, a sound journey through a good book, a surreal and mesmerising dance, and an installation that takes flight – each found inside a garden shed.

With much more to be announced, the arts programme at The Big Chill promises to be a wealth of creative, interactive and immersive experiences across film, dance, comedy, cabaret, visual art and more. Now a fully fledged member of the Festival Republic family The Big Chill is poised to build further on the successes of 2010.

Last year saw an international line-up of some of the biggest selling names in electronic, indie and pop music and 2011 sees another all-star cast taking to The Big Chill stages including an exclusive UK festival appearance by Kanye West plus The Chemical Brothers and Rodrigo y Gabriela. The Big Chill takes place from 4th to 7th of August 2011 at Eastnor Castle Deer Park in Ledbury, Herefordshire.