We are surrounded by screaming children and irritated passengers while sitting in the waiting room of Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade, Serbia. We are on our way back to Germany. Two guys and a girl are sitting across from us, wearing a dead tired look, which can be easily explained by their EXIT FESTIVAL wristbands.
The scene perfectly sums up the amazing week we also had, filled with non-stop music, and falling in love with Serbia. While our beds in Berlin are calling for us to catch up on some much needed sleep, we are very sad to be leaving.
Now that we are on our way home, it feels like an eternity has passed since the opening night of EXIT, when Nile Rodgers and CHIC took the main stage, kicking off the festival with a good old fashion Disco party. It has been 5 fully packed days of exploring Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin fortress, with over 500 stages and each tunnel and passageway teeming with mini-dance parties.
A major highlight from this years EXIT FESTIVAL was NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS. There was an electric hot shock running through every song, as they they took hold of the closing ceremony on Sunday night. From Mermaids to Red Right Hand, Cave stalked the stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, convulsing and shaking as if possessed by the sound of his deep crooning voice.
A runway was built that connected the stage to the overflowing crowd. Although Cave blatantly shooed away photographers and cameramen who were hoping to catch the perfect shot, he interacted heavily with the audience. Sauntering down the ramp, CAVE would get to the very edge, allowing his long lanky suited legs to become enveloped by frantic hands and arms, before pulling out suddenly, leaving the crowd begging for more.
While performing Stagger Lee, CAVE stared into the eyes of a young woman as if casting a spell. She reached out with just barely an inch of space between their fingertips, until he finally broke the tension and grabbed a hold of her hand, causing the crowd to explode.
From Novi Sad to Belgrade, people told us that the word on the street was that this year’s EXIT FESTIVAL was one of the biggest and most successful festivals yet. In fact, the rumors are true, seeing as acts like THE PRODIGY saw over 35,000 people at their performance, and over 20,000 day tickets were sold.
There were the big players, like SNOOP DOGG and ATOMS FOR PEACE, who lived up to our every expectation, but also the more localized acts like Serbia’s own BAD COPY and Ana Popović, who were also met with just as much love and enthusiasm as the headliners.
Although Popovic is now living in Tennessee, the Serbian blues guitarist told NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION that she always looks forward to coming back to EXIT FESTIVAL. “I love my audience in Serbia, last time I played at EXIT about 5 years ago, and it was just incredible…I am happy to be back.”
Of course we cannot forget the celebrated electronic lineup, which EXIT is famous for. We danced until the sun came up to the minimalist set of Detroit techno master JEFF MILLS. We had a birds eye view of the dance arena, and the combination of Mills’s seamless performance topped off by Dubliner Matador, who took over the morning shift, made it virtually impossible to leave.
EXIT can be taken as an all-night dance party that only stops around the time the Serbian sun starts beating down on you at around 8 in the morning. But there is also a lot to be said for taking the time to explore Novi Sad, and learning a bit more about the history of the festival as well. From the beautiful center square to the catacombs below the fortress, the location and venue used for EXIT FESTIVAL makes it one of most unique music festival experiences you can have. Just follow the festival’s motto: “EXIT where hedonism meets activism”.
When saying our goodbyes to some of the amazing people we met during the festival on Sunday morning, instead of giving a few “nice to meet yous” and “good lucks”, we all agreed to plan to see each other next year. We have the feeling that EXIT will just keep getting bigger and better.