For four days last week (7-10 July), a 17th Century fortress on the banks of the Danube in Novi Sad, Serbia played host to the latest edition of EXIT Festival. The event boasted an eclectic range of the most vital names in dance music culture, with the revelry lasting from sunset to sunrise and beyond.
Beyond towering headline sets from the likes of Calvin Harris and Iggy Azalea, though, and the army of Europe’s elite DJs and producers that filled the dozen or so stages, there were major names from across the musical spectrum: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Sepultura and Napalm Death, to name just a few. Here’s what it all looked like…
A festival setting like no other
The stunning Petrovaradin Fortress, built in the late 1600s, provided an unforgettable location for the 40,000 daily festival-goers. Real tunnels and bridges from the original fortress served as pathways between stages.
The weekend started with a bang
As Thursday night kicked into gear, a dramatic firework display behind the Main Stage marked the official beginning of EXIT 2022.
Iggy Azalea gets to work
The Australian rapper brought A-list glam to EXIT with her opening night headline performance, while set closer ‘Fancy’ set off the weekend’s first moment of mass hysteria.
EXIT’s range of stages had to be seen to be believed
Beyond the Main Stage and the MTS Dance Arena, there are a dozen other stages to explore at EXIT – and each served their own musical niche. This one, the prophetically-named and owl-shaped No Sleep Stage, sat in the shadow of a steep fortress wall.
Nick Cave offered profound emotional closure
The tragedies that have befallen Nick Cave in recent years are well known, but if anything, it has only served to amplify the emotional impact of his stage presence. For over two hours, he held the EXIT crowd under a rapturous spell with a set that moved from tender introspection to pulverising explosions of joy.
Coach Party proved that indie is alive and well
Dance music may dominate at EXIT, but all genres are welcome – and the Isle of Wight’s buzzy Coach Party represented a new wave of British indie.
Every night at EXIT is an all-nighter
Usually, a sunset marks a major moment at a festival. Things tend to accelerate, moods intensify, and true hedonism is unleashed. At EXIT, those things happen when the sun comes back up again. The festival runs from 7pm to 8am, and the euphoria of dancing your mind away to hardcore techno as the sun rises is unlike anything else.
Calvin Harris brought all the bangers
It is only when you see a full Calvin Harris set that you truly realise how many giant hits he has amassed over the years. They all made appearances in his Saturday night headline show, as the biggest crowd of the weekend hit a new energy level.
The Undertones brought the Good Vibrations
Watching The Undertones perform in 2022, it is hard to believe that it has been 44 years since ‘Teenage Kicks’ first hit the radio. Their exuberance and energy was as strong as ever, and along with the Marky Ramone set that followed them, they proved that the original spirit of punk is alive and well.
The fireflies come out for Masked Wolf
One of the perks of this nocturnal festival is that you could use the darkness as a blank canvas. Aside from the fireworks and the impressive light shows on the larger stages, Australian rapper Masked Wolf took the opportunity to turn his Main Stage crowd into a magical swarm of smartphone fireflies.
All good things must come to an end
Just as they ushered in the start of the weekend, a firework show brought the curtain down on EXIT 2022, after four days of uplifting, communal joy.