If EXIT is a festival that’s designed to blow your mind, it’s a task that does so with a relish that’s practically unmatched in electronic music. Much if not all of this is down to two of most iconic stages, the No Sleep Novi Sad stage and its bigger (and marginally) more impressive older brother, the mts Dance Arena. With the music kicking off at both around midnight and running until the very early hours, EXIT is a festival with an unusual time agenda – but it’s one that just works, which you’ll know what we’re talking about if you were lucky enough to dance by either stage this past weekend. Spread over four nights (the festival begins on a Thursday night and goes until Monday morning), it left on an impression on our senses like few other festivals we’ve ever encountered.
So, where to start when it comes to the DJs? Well, to keep things easy we’ll start in chronological order and go from day 1 through to day 4. Day 1 kicked off with a bang, with slamming sets by Monika Kruse especially. Muscular tech house was the order of the day with her set, but things really kicked up a notch when Maceo Plex came on a couple hours after. Not having seen Maceo before, his set really impressed. High-octane techno that took no prisoners, it was just marginally beaten on the night by his b2b with the King, Mr. Carl Cox. A spectacle that myself and others in attendance are unlucky to forget in a hurry.
Day 2 was maybe the most restrained days of the lot, with Peggy Gou and Paul Kalkbrenner the big draws for me. Gou’s set was steady if unspectacular, although her remix of Shakedown’s At Night did prompt passionate streams on the dance floor early on. Klakbrenner then ploughed through a sit that called on old-school classics and some unknown, possibly newer material. A producer who seems to prompt absolute devotion in his fans, his live show was a joyous occasion. Yes we missed Solomun, but you can’t be everywhere at the same time at EXIT!
Day 3 and with our body clock by noon switched to ‘nocturnal’, we checked out the No Sleep stage for a bit, where DVS1 joined the Bassiani crew. Generally speaking, this floor is more geared toward tougher sounds, and though the music here wasn’t as recognisable, the vibes were such that nobody in the appearance seemed to care an iota. And so to the final act, Day 4, which expectedly didn’t let up. And after 3 days of madness, why would it!? Amelie Lens’ closing set of pulverising sounds was the highlight for me, but also of note was music played by Jeff Mills (who’s lost none of his flair) and Dax J, an outstanding British DJ who I’m really digging of late. Overall, EXIT was an experience that will stay with me for a long time. I just wish I could go back in time and do it all again!