In times of political unrest, Exit Festival: Summer of Love demonstrates music’s unifying power
In times of political unrest, Exit Festival: Summer of Love demonstrates the power of music and unity
17 years ago, Exit Festival was conceived as a student movement fighting for democracy and social freedom in Serbia and the Balkans. As a festival whose rich history is rooted in political and social change, 2017’s “Summer of Love” theme – which celebrated 50 years since the revolutionary Peace Movement – arrived at an opportune time where political unrest is prevalent and opinions are seemingly louder than ever.
Exit is living, breathing proof that music can and will continue to bring people of all genders, ethnicities and political views together. In 2017, if uniting is the end, then music is arguably the means.
“[Exit] was founded some 17 years ago as a student movement fighting for peace and democracy and in 2000 we organized a party that was totally free, says Exit Festival founder Dušan Kovačević. “These social origins are deeply inserted into Exit Festival along with its musical program. Summer of Love is the 50th anniversary of the original peace movement that showcases the notions of love, unity and freedom. We are now taking less rights for granted; we’re even losing them. 50 years ago we had the war in Vietnam, the war in Syria, The Cold War. This is a moment to celebrate 50 years of Summer of Love in order to bring back that energy because we can make social change with music festivals and make a mark on mankind.”
Relive Exit Festival with us as we look back on some of the festival’s best moments.
Photos courtesy of Exit Festival.
Despite a late start, Exit stays true to tradition with annual Opening Ceremony & Fireworks
Unlike all other times of the year, Novi Sad’s energy is sparkling. Thousands of festival goers line up along the Danube River’s scintillating banks for optimal viewing of Exit Festival’s annual Opening Ceremony and fireworks show. The Boško Perošević Bridge, which serves as the connection between downtown Novi Sad and the Petrovaradin Fortress, is illuminated in all colors of the rainbow. Forming a tailgate of sorts, fans are waiting patiently for the fireworks to begin with a beer in hand, while a slate of young girls pace up and down the bank selling Rakija, an alcoholic beverag made from the distillation of fermented fruit. Despite the hour delay, purple, blue, red and green flares emblazon the night sky during a 15-minute spectacle, marking the commencement of Exit Festival: Summer of Love.
Solomun and Dixon play a rare B2B set
By far one of the largest draws for electronic music fans, a Solomun B2B Dixon set is no easy booking to secure. Having only played a small handful of shows together, the inimitable pair enter Exit’s iconic Dance Arena already familiar with their surroundings, having performed individually in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Together, the superduo traverse techno and house’s multifaceted realms for three relentless hours with tracks like “Avalon” (&ME), “Mygut” (Super Flu), and “The Drifter” (Space Ramp). The crowd swells as the sun starts to rise as early as 4:30AM; deep orange hues poke through the darkness, indicating dawn’s impending arrival. This is precisely the Balkan sunrise we’d always heard stories about, but never had the chance to see up close and in person. Until now.
No Sleep Novi Sad plays host to gritty techno
As one of Exit Festival’s most sought-after stages, each year No Sleep Novi Sad invites the world’s most iconic clubs to participate as stage hosts on each of the festival’s four nights. This year, hosts included Sub Club (Glasgow), Fuse (Brussels), Avant Garde & Corsica Studios (London) and Concrete (Paris) – each of whom brought the very best in techno straight to Novi Sad. Wedged between two brick walls, No Sleep is only accessible through a small tunnel off to the side of Exit’s larger, more renowned Dance Arena. Charlotte de Witte, Function, Dr. Rubinstein and Bjarki are just a few acts that keep fans dancing through the early hours of the morning. Small pockets of dust pervade the air, though fans boasting dark sunglasses and medical dust masks are too enthralled with the DJ to mind the mini dust storms that ensue.
Hot Since 82 delivers a remarkable sunrise set
There’s nothing quite like a sunrise tech house set from Daley Padley, better known as Hot Since 82. The magic is palpable as pure blackness transitions into bright oranges and yellows. The crowd is teeming with an abnormal amount of energy at 6:30am, and it seems like hundreds of fans are flooding into the Dance Arena by the minute to be an active participant in the affair. From Technasia’s “Obsession” to Butch’s “Joy,” Hot Since 82 showcases his outstanding live mixing and curating abilities, proving exactly why he’s one of the fastest-rising names in the modern day electronic music stream.
Hardwell closes out Main Stage with a fireworks show of epic proportions
While production is only a small part of an artist’s performance, Hardwell made sure that his closing Main Stage set was brimming with the works: frantic strobes, pyro, CO2 blasts, fireworks and a festival-primed set to boot. Arguably one of the most influential DJs and producers of our time, Robbert van de Corput attracts a tremendous crowd as he exhibits records both new and old including “Apollo,” “In the Name of Love” and “Shape of You.” Hardwell’s stage presence is as confident as ever, as he knows fully well that his shows lean more towards a spectacle than anything else. After all, this isn’t his first rodeo.