Tuesday, 11 December 2012


SERBIA IN LOVE


It was New Year's Eve 2011, the celebrations were in full force, the masses were getting buzzed. The atmosphere was one of great excitement and joy as I caught myself in thought, "So, I wonder what 2012 will have in store... hmmm." Secretly, I hoped in the back of mind that this year in particular would be somewhat extra special. And it was! In 2012 Vienna In Love played EXIT Festival in Novi SadSerbia.  It was a dream come true!          

Just like every rock and roll story, some of the the basics were an absolute nightmare in moments. We arrived at Luton airport's check in for W*** Airlines who couldn't have been more ill-suited to a group of musicians who in order to travel with their guitars need to purchase extra plane tickets at full cost. The stewardess went even further later to say that they would have to store them at the back of the plane. This airline clearly lacked the sophistication of their rival main and exemplary counterparts JAT Airlines. Soon after we were cleared for take-off as we began our ascent towards Belgrade. The flight was reasonalbly comfortable at it's best. 

Luckily the discomfort and inconvenience was soon forgotten as we landed at Serbia's Nikola Tesla airport. It's the first day, the temperature's are high, and we're all super excited to be there - we exit out the parking lot and go for lunch to savour some delicious Serbian cuisine, as the adventure unravels. 

We are on our way to a rehearsal with Predrag (our Serbian bass player) to one of the most famous architectural landmarks of the former Yugoslavia called the Bigz building - a gigantuous pre World War II concrete block from Yugoslavia's former golden age of socialism. It is now considered a significant cultural and social gathering spot for artists and musicians and has its floors covered in graffiti everywhere. We instantly fell in love it and imagined to be something from Fight Club or a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie. It was in this building that our lives flashed in front of our very eyes when the lift broke down in between floors on the way to the thirteenth floor (out of all places!) containing the four of us and all our equipment. The temperatures were soaring inside during the peak of summer and the alarm was broken. Should we be in a panic?

The Bigz building

To make matters even worse, there was nobody nearby to hear us call for help. It really was beginning to feel like we were in the movie now (not to mention we were on our way to the thirteenth floor!). “Hello people, anybody there?”, Predrag called. He was greeted by silence. We waited patiently hoping that it would soon all come to an end. And what about our rehearsal? We stood there perplexed trying the grasp the reality of the situation.  There was an air of nervousness. It started off as a joke. Where was everybody, surely there must be somebody in the building.

 Suddenly a few minutes later we could hear footsteps.  Predrag banged "Hello, anybody there?"  A girl answered, “I don’t know what to do to help you.”  We looked at each other in relief, "Please go tell the porter or at least someone that we are here and that we're stuck." "She answered, “I’ll tell somebody at the entrance that you’ve gotten stuck, ok?” Suddenly to our surprise, the lift began to move on its own as though it was possessed... as tho had a mind of it's own. It took us to the next level where we decided to finish of the journey off by foot another ten floors as we wouldn't be using the lift anymore for the rest of the day.

We finish our band practice at midnight and Predrag heads us to the building rooftop which overlooks Belgrade by night. High in the sky the moon is tipping its hat and the stars are twinkling, it is a gorgeous warm summer evening and the atmosphere is breathtaking to the back drop of a live jazz band. It is a beautiful moment. Suddenly, the mobile rings ubruptly.  Dragan (Toza) our tour manager reminds us that we need to wake up at 5am in order to be guests on public mainstream television and radio RTS1 (Radio Television Serbia) with famous presenters Gorica and Dragan. It is obvious that we wont be getting much sleep tonight. We need to be fresh in the morning as a lot of people would be watching across the country.

The alarm rings.  We spring to our feet, breakfast is awaiting on the table, we quickly eat and out the door we go!  We had so much fun that morning with our brand new friends Gorica, Dragan, and their lovely assistant Bojana who greeted us in the lobby and got us past security taking upstairs to the studios of 'Budjenje' - a famous morning program which all of Serbia wakes up to. 

  
Later that day, some passers by in Belgrade and Novi Sad, called out to us.  We looked at each other thinking who they were. And then it dawned on us… they had seen us on television that morning and had recognized us haha.  

Some of them even said they’d come see us play, which was real nice :-)           Our hotel in Novi Sad was great.  That didn’t last long though.  After we checked in, Victor and James somehow managed to destroy their hotel bedroom and cause a flood in the bathroom in the first 20 minutes.  It was a bombsite when Predrag and I walked in. 

 Luckily tho, the two of us were staying in another room down the corridor on another floor haha. On the day of EXIT, there was a lot commotion at the hotel with friends, family members, incoming calls, press, and photographers coming to meet us in preparation for the evening’s concert, as it was soon approaching.

On the day of EXIT, there was a lot commotion at the hotel with friends, family members, incoming calls, press, and photographers coming to meet us ahead of the evening’s concert.

It was an amazing experience for us. Our slot was between 8-9pm. The atmosphere was great. We had our own backstage with refreshments and food. After our show we made towards the press photo call centre were we were interviewed live for Novi Sad Radio.

Gossip put on a great performance, and finally Duran Duran who performed all their awesome 80’s hits. The following day, our beloved New Order took to the stage with a really emotive performance, including some of the best songs ever written such as “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Transmission” from Joy Division.


Novi Sad is a beautiful city with warm friendly people. The vibe in general was just so awesome.




In all, the response, hospitality, and warmth shown to us in Serbia was amazing. We also played other concerts in Belgrade, and in my family’s hometown in Pozarevac, which was a very special touch for me.  I’m glad that they and their friend’s were able to come and see Vienna In Love in their own city.  It was emotional.  The venue was packed, and the audience amazing. On SAT Television, we prepared to play one song, and instead they let us play seven.  They even did a special program feature on the band called ‘Nights in White Satin’.  We are really grateful.  Thank you ever so much to everyone!!!


 Serbia, we absolutely loved you, See you again soon!