EXIT has established a brand as Serbia’s premier destination for alternative, underground, and pop music over the course of history. With 16 wildly successful EXIT editions, and expansions to Montenegro and Croatia under their belt, the company’s 17th edition took place last weekend. Boosted by pleasant temperatures and wild after-parties, the weekend was an overwhelming success, driven by the pristine variety of musical selection provided throughout the course of the event.
EXIT 2017 is akin to a historic playground, taking place at the Petrovaradin fortress which was built back in 1692. The intimate affair was fitted with 20 stages, with a line-up comprising of some of the best pop, rock, and EDM names. The Killers and Jeff Mills were elected as the gathering’s very first headliners, signalling early on that EXIT had plans to set another record, with a total of 215,000 attendees.
Top-notch music drove the festival forward into an overwhelmingly positive direction. EXIT Festival places high importance on the artists it books for events, delving into the diverse pool of artists to formulate rosters that magnify EXIT’s appeal as a boutique festival. This time around, however, the line-up felt rather safe, albeit excellent as always. A large portion of the festival’s bill were already EXIT veterans – this left some longtime attendees feeling nostalgic for times when each edition felt considerably different than the last.
That isn’t to say that the music experience was dull in any way, however. Those making their return to the festival ensured the opposite was true. Solomun for example, conquered his sunset performances in a B2B set with Dixon. Paul Kalkbrenner brought smooth, techno vibes to the dance arena, while Duke Dumont ushered in the sunrise on Saturday with hypnotic and divine melodies. Hardwell shook the main stage with heavy drops and glimmering visuals. RÜFÜS catered their crowd with exciting live elements paired with their unique brand of music, and Nina Kraviz closed out the Dance Arena with a seamless mix of acid house classics and techno tunes, which ended Sunday night on a gleeful note.
New names to EXIT provided excellent sets as well. Alan Walker’s festival debut was as breezy as ever, filled with his signature dance sound which spread melodic sensations throughout the smiling crowd. Robin Schulz ruled the Dance Arena on Saturday evening, further diversifying the event’s music selection with flavours of chill house. French wonderkid Kungs provided a groovy, funk-laden set that served as a memorable kick off to day 3, while Lost Frequencies contributed with divine uplifting house tunes on the main stage.
The growing interest in the underground dance music scene is becoming more and more evident with each edition at EXIT Festival. The sensational nights brought the all-black-wearing crowd into the tightly packed dance arena and gave off a vibe of unity. Of course, you could also find people roaming around the fortress hanging out with friends, but as the night got later, everyone was packed into the dance arena dancing the night away to a perfect soundtrack. The crowd was distinctly different from other crossover festivals — you could tell there were music lovers present as opposed to the run of the mill partygoers.
Organizers used the medieval fortress location to their advantage. The stages were covered in lush greenery, giving off an almost ancient vibe that fitted the music well. The venue size also worked well for the Novi Sad noise regulations — though not as booming as a normal festival, sound hit at just the right spots and was amplified nicely by the fortress walls.
Ultimately, EXIT has proven itself as yet another successful crossover festival while Eastern Europe’s dance scene continues to mature. A strong line-up of house and techno royalty foreshadowed the event’s success, and each artist delivered in their vastly unique ways to curate a fun and frinetic weekend. With positive reports all around from fans, chances are more than likely it will become one of Europe’s top festival destinations in the coming years.