Serbia’s very own international landmark, the Exit Festival, topped clubbers’ summer lists for the sixth time running. The four-day annual event line-up at its Dance Arenathis year saw the likes of Dave Clarke, Derrick May, Hernan Cattaneo, Steve Lawler, James Zabiela, Jeff Mills, Eric Prydz, David Guetta and Steve Angello hammering their sounds to crowds of 20,000+ eager followers of the outdoor phenomenon taking place at the medieval Petrovaradin Fortress every first weekend in July.
The gears and cogs were set in motion by Simian Mobile Disco parading their lukewarm electro sound, featuring the hugely successful We Are Your Friends which came to be one of the anthems of the year. Their set was a great introduction to the acts that followed, namely M.A.N.D.Y, continuing the electro craze with Body Language, all the way to the first headliner of the night – Eric Prydz.
As far as the lush productions of Mr Prydz go, the mass of girating hands seem to be very much found of the trademark sound of his guises Pryda and Cirez D, which was just the thing before Dave Clark put the throttle on by taking Day 1 to new highs. The bpm went up, as did the people who flocked to the Dance Arena the first night, or rather morning of Day 2. It seems Dave chose a particularly funky set of vinyls in the first hour, but went back to a darker sound as the morning progressed into daytime.
After a good days sleep of some four hours, the bar stage at the other end of the Danube beach was the place to be. The British camp was the one to watch out for, with a game of footie, a pint or two, and a swim in the Danube or three, the nirvana of Novi Sad, north Serbia, kicked in and the beach was swinging right up to the moment it was time to cross the bridge and go back to the 17th century military base for another scoop of the festival.
Day 2 was all about the dark and dirty progressive and tribal. James Holden and Nick Warren took charge of the turntables first. Warren’s dubs and Holden’s eclectic set got everyone going that Friday night. The piercing sounds of the hats and the solidified bass lines overwhelmed festival-goers when Hernan Cattaneo grabbed hold of the decks. Lawler kicked it up a notch, combining much more progressive house with the standard tracks in his set. Then James Zabiela, the man of the night, strut his stuff all over the mixer of the DJ stage and brought the second night to a climaxing close.
The Dance Arena was not the only place you could have a listen to what was cooking in producer’s kitchens this year. The MTV stage was a nice change of pace, since most of the headliners did a set for a smaller group of music fans that were able to find the elusive and secluded piece of heaven on top of the tunnel. Café del Danube was also a place where you could chill out to the more soothing electronic sounds and enjoy the magnificent view of the city from the citadel, as well as more than 20 other stages of the festival, catering to a very wide range of listeners.
After yet another “no sleep when it’s Exit time” session, Saturday night was a mainstream house delight. After a fantastic live act by Switch, Junior Jack and Kid Crème gave a standard set of mostly their own productions, taking the crowd through the previous five years of original tracks and remixes you had to be living under a rock not to know, and introducing Junior’ new single Dancin. David Guetta paraded the floor with The World is Mine some four times and managed to squeeze in the same number of acapellas of his Love Don’t Let Me Go in two hours, but the crowded Arena did not seem to mind as it was pulsating to the beats of the freshest anthems served with a delight. Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso took over and blew the roof off (as if their was one) finishing off Saturday night with a back-to-back set based on their remixes and crossover tracks. We were ready for the last day – techno night.
The memorable Loco Dice introduced the sounds of the evening, only to be followed by Derrick May’s set of much more melodic nature then you would expect. The visual performance with welders (yes, welders) and sparks flying into the crowd was an eye-opening experience, but when Jeff Mills tantalized the million glow stick enhanced craziness in the Arena, all hell broke loose. Technasia’s live act was a thing to remember also, but the crowd went wild for Umek, the home (or close to home) grown epitome of techno. Marko Nastic traditionally closed the festivities at around 10AM Monday morning with an ever fast-paced set.
The four days of EXIT06 showed that the organizers have a lot up their sleeves left. The info about next year’s festival is still in the rumor category but it is very promising even as such. They will have to make a lot of effort to top this one, since most of the performers as well as the visitors have found it to be the best one yet. Let us hope EXIT people keep giving us more and more reasons to come back.