Words: Miljan Milekić
Quite a few times on this website, I’ve been writing about my history with the Exit festival, and how much I love it. In the past two decades, it became one of the symbols of my hometown, Novi Sad, and part of my life for the past eleven years. Growing up, it provided me a chance to see some of my favorite artists who I would not get the chance to see any other way, so I will always have a soft spot for it. I have to admit though, that in recent years, the event took a new route which I don’t really like, going more and more into the mainstream, but it still hides quite a few gems. However, on the contrary to my previously written sentences, the first day brought probably the most important set this festival’s ever seen, and my new favorite show I’ve seen at the fortress. The mighty, legendary, The Cure.
There is hardly anything left to say or write about Robert Smith &Co. that’s not common knowledge nowadays. A career that lasts for forty years, numerous hits that shaped generations, and an immeasurable influence on the music scene in the past few decades, everything was scattered all over the Main stage, as soon as The Cure hit it. And they did it with such ease like it’s nothing. Delivering hit after hit, the five-piece made their almost three-hour-long set seem too short, leaving the crowd craving more. And to be honest, they could probably keep going on for three more hours if there was enough time.
In their career, The Cure embraced so many different influences that it seems almost impossible to deliver a cohesive set consisted of all of their notable work, however, that was not the case. The band stormed through their catalog like it’s the easiest thing in the world, getting the crowd eating from their hands in no time. Whatever the song they picked, they delivered it flawlessly, not so much with surgical precision, as they did with the pure, raw emotion. ‘Pictures of You,’ ‘Lovesong,’ ‘Burn,’ my favorite – ‘Push,’ ‘In Between Days,’ ‘Just Like Heaven,’ ‘A Forest’ – every song was hitting home, while the crowd was going wild. At the same time, the band on the stage looked like there’s no place on Earth they would rather be. I’ve seen tons of live footage from the band, and I have never seen such a big smile on Robert Smith‘s face. He acted like a kid in a toy store and haven’t said a single word all until the encore.
And the encore was almost as a concert for itself. After closing the main set with a hypnotic ‘Disintegration,’ the band kicked things off again with a huge, larger-than-life version of ‘Lullaby,’ sung by every soul in the crowd. ‘The Caterpillar,’ ‘Friday I’m In Love,’ and ‘Close to Me’ only fueled the fire until the big finish with ‘Why Can’t I Be You?’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry.’ Less than two weeks after their headline set at Glastonbury, The Cure visited Serbia for the first time ever, showing how potent and vital they still are. Oh, have I mentioned the pouring rain during the first few songs? No? Good, ’cause nobody cared.
It’s worth the mention though, it wasn’t only The Cure who made this night special, as they handpicked their own supporting act – British post-rock band 65daysofstatic. I remember being crazy about them back in 2008 and 2009 when I first discovered them, playing ‘One Time for All Time’ and especially ‘The Destruction of Small Ideas’ on repeat for months. However, in recent years, I almost forgot about them, and this was more than a welcomed surprise, as well as a throwback. Especially the ‘Radio Protector’ at the end of their set. Of course, there were many other performers across various stages, as a matter of fact, The Cure set was even before the opening ceremony, but we decided to call it for the night. Whoever got on the stage that night couldn’t top the legendary Brits. Actually, I’m sure no one can do it for the rest of the weekend either.