The Exploited + Misconduct @ Exit Festival 2022, Novi Sad, Serbia

Words: Miljan Milekić

Day two of this year’s Exit Festival promised to be one of the strongest ever, at least when it comes to the Explosive Stage. Headlined by the pair of legendary British bands – The Exploited and Discharge, it featured a couple more great bands, including Swedish skate punks Misconduct and local hardcore heroes Still Bleeding. Well, on paper, it was, but the airlines had different plans.

Due to chaos in the air traffic in Europe in recent weeks, Discharge got stuck in Amsterdam and had to cancel mere hours before the stage time, so the whole program kicked off a bit later. Still Bleeding, however, had no problem with that, hitting the stage first and delivering a strong, energetic set. Influenced by everyone from Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits to Turnstile, the five-piece quickly showed why many consider them one of the best bands in the Serbian scene. In 30 minutes they were allocated, the band went through their small but powerful catalogue, firing up bangers such as ‘PMA,’ ‘Running,’ ‘Back To School,’ and ‘One Heart To Give.’ Their combination of hardcore, skate and surf punk, and everything between is a welcome breath of fresh air in the local scene, and I can’t wait to hear what’s next for them.

Changes in the timetable at such short notice were a bit confusing, as not all the fans got the news in time, making the Misconduct set one of the highlights of the festival. A big name in the European skate punk scene, the band had a fair share of their own fans in front of the stage, but taking the slot originally allocated to The Exploited, they played to a very diverse combination of people in front of them. A good portion of fans was there to see British legends, which was obvious by their outfits and slight confusion by the band on stage, but a band like Misconduct was quick to turn it to their advantage.

From the moment they hit the stage, the band made it their own, slowly turning the initial surprise into enjoyment and good vibes, connecting different generations and fans of different styles of this beautiful genre. “Hardcore, punk, or ska // It doesn’t matter what you choose // Now we’re breaking free // Fight for global unity!” as the band said in ‘No Boundaries,’ one of the songs played tonight. The band pretty much continued where they stopped the night before at the surprise acoustic show, dropping banger after banger. ‘Family,’ ‘Blood On My Hands,’ ‘Side by Side,’ ‘Closer,’ ‘Solution,’ ‘Peace Love And Unity,’ ‘Never Going Down,’ all sounded amazing and received a great reception from the crowd, with the latter having a great call-and-response moment between the band and fans. In an obviously good mood, Misconduct gave their all on the stage before promising they will return in the future. Judging by this show and the reception they had, I have no reason not to believe them.

The Edinburgh punk veterans The Exploited were next to take the stage, making it their playground. Still going strong after 40 years of career, still touring the world and playing every show like it’s their last, they certainly deserve lots of respect. And being in Serbia quite a few times, they developed a big and loyal fanbase that only made this show better.

Kicking things off with ‘Let’s Start a War,’ the band quickly fired up the crowd before delivering 20-something more songs. At no point did they put their foot off the gas, and the crowd knew how to respond – with massive mosh pits and singalongs. Imidiettly following the set-opener with ‘Fightback,’ ‘Dogs of War,’ ‘The Massacre,’ and ‘UK 82,’ the band kept the energy at a high level, easily sliding from song to song. They didn’t miss to treat the fans with a fair share of fucks with ‘Fuck the System’ and ‘Fuck the USA,’ before inviting them to the stage for legendary ‘Sex & Violence,’ and finishing off with the trio of ‘Rival Leaders,’ ‘Punks Not Dead,’ and ‘Was It Me.’

I was never the biggest fan of the band’s music, but I do have massive respect for their legacy and especially their work ethics. Seeing Wattie Buchan, a man in his sixties who suffered from a heart attack on the stage eight years ago, performing with so much energy is definitely something special. Yes, I had seen the band putting on both amazing, and not-so-good shows. Yes, I agree that they may be a legacy band, having no new music in almost two decades, with little relevance in today’s mainstream scene. But, they are still here, still going strong, and at festivals or dedicated stages like this, is exactly where they thrive. And that love goes both ways.

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