Having already established itself as one of Serbia’s most recognizable institutions over the last decade, Exit Festival in Novi Sad sets the bar higher each year.
The 2017 edition of the festival, took place at the Petrovaradin Fortress from July 5-9, have sold ticket sales records and dfeature big-name headliners from every corner of the musical spectrum.
In a recent article highlighting the most interesting music festivals in Europe, the Guardian gave a nod to Exit saying “The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Years & Years and Jason Derulo. No, not the night out you wish you could go on, but the headliners of Serbia’s Exit.”
Last year, Exit was named the Best Summer Music Festival in Europe for 2016 by European Best Destinations, a popular travel website that works with the European Commission to help promote European travel and cultural exchange.
Exit Festival founder Dusan Kovacevic told Belgrade news agency Tanjug that foreign publications have been saying that this year’s Exit will be the best one yet and he can’t help but agree.
“Exit lasts five days and we have managed to maintain the concept that the festival has been known for – to create a perfect mix of various styles and to bring the best representatives of rock ‘n’ roll music, electronic music and all other contemporary and urban musical genres,” Kovacevic said.
Another concept that’s very important to Exit is to have a lineup that’s going to span generations. For example, headliners of this year included 1980s shoegaze band The Jesus and Mary Chain, 1990s rock singer Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame, and one of the most popular rock bands of the 2000s, The Killers.
The Killers played “Day 0” – a concept recently introduced by the festival where one big concert is held before the actual start of the festival. Last year, popular American rockers Queens of the Stone Age played the Exit pre-party and with the announcement of the hugely popular The Killers, there’s no doubt that “Day 0” is doing wonders for the festival’s popularity.
What attracts concert goers most to “Day 0” is that they won’t be getting a shortened festival performance by the band that’s playing, but rather a full set that will last as long as the band’s solo concerts traditionally last.
Having one big concert take place before the actual festival kicks off also allows Exit the opportunity to bring huge bands like The Killers, who have complex stage production demands and would be difficult to fit into a standard rotation of festival performers.
According to Kovacevic, tickets were about 80 per cent sold about a month before the festival, adding that there’s a good chance that Exit might completely sell out this year, which is something that has never happened before.
Other highlights of the roster this year included British electro pop band Years & Years. Music critics have called this London trio one of the most important pop bands of the 21st century. They had the fastest selling debut album of any artist this decade.
Electronic music producers who made a big splash at the festival this year included Norway’s Alan Walker and Belgian superstar Lost Frequencies.
What makes Exit additionally great is that the festival also caters to underground music fans and isn’t reserved solely for giant pop stars. There are plenty of stages surrounding the main stage, including the famed Explosive Stage, which features both big and small names from the uncompromising worlds of punk, hardcore and heavy metal.
This year’s lineup featured German thrash legends Destruction, hardcore masters Discharge, gothic metal masters from Switzerland Samael and contemporary metal bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and Full of Hell.
Exit is also a perfect place to see a lot of Serbia’s rock bands play, with places like the Fusion Stage showcasing some of the biggest and best bands of the Balkans along with up-and-coming stars from the local rock scene.
This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight.