There's nowhere quite like EXIT Festival. Descending from above, the first day of the leading fixture in Serbia's music calendar began on July 6 with an angelic children’s ‘Stevica Jovanović’ choir performing a monumental rendition of Ekatarina Velika’s 'Zemlja' (which translates as Earth). Festivalgoers revelled at the Gorki List Mainstage’s unique introduction, as motivational speaker Aubrey Marcus declared that “the echo of this moment will reverberate for centuries”.
Meanwhile, the Pachamama powered by Rosa stage was conducting its own immersive opening ceremony, with an ancient cacao ritual supported by pensive musical kirtans adopting the spirit of the Ada Divine Awakening Festival.
Shortly after crowds witnessed the divine opening on the Mainstage, Viagra Boys transformed the atmosphere to much more rowdy territory with neo-punk guitar riffs expressed via jazz arrangements with witty lyrics, getting the audience pumped up as they eagerly awaited the night's special headline performance from The Prodigy.
The legendary rave outfit then blessed audiences with a memorable performance, beginning with their 1996 hit song ‘Breathe’ and showcasing a touching lighting tribute to Keith Flint. The spectacle was complemented by the fact the track made its debut in Serbia, in the year before its official release. They continued with a platter of hits like ‘Omen’, ‘Voodoo People', and ‘We Live Forever’, whipping up the audience. “Exit always represents, but last night was next level”, captioned an Instagram post made shortly after.
The first night of the mts Dance Arena - EXIT's electronic music haven - also hit dizzying heights. An empowering, entrancing performance by “sound alchemist” Vylana Marcus preceded the stage’s all-female techno opening night line-up, including 17-year-old Serbian melodic techno prodigy Lanna, who who is the first signed artist in front of EXIT Music & Talent Office, as well as pumping sets from Indira Paganotto in the day and Amelie Lens upon nightfall, elevated by dazzling lights.
On the second night, the Mainstage was headlined by Skrillex, who opened his performance with Đorđe Marjanović’s iconic 1959 Yugoslavian hit ‘ Zvižduk u 8’. Over on the Dance Arena stage, Eric Pydz was reaffirming his electronic music chieftaincy with advanced production levels with his impressive live performance, that has been a decade in the making. He was followed by a roster of electronic music favourites, with performances from CamelPhat and Space Motion.
The following Saturday, saw Swedish DJ and producer Alesso take the headline spot, while Brazilian electronic artist Vintage Culture celebrated his birthday with cake and a stellar curation for the mts Dance Arena. Audiences were enthralled by captivating duo Sophie Tucker, and Slovenian singer-songwriter Senidah shared her talents across various stages, including joining multi-instrumentalist Italian duo Giolì & Assia.
On the final day, a sea of festivalgoers flocked to the Mainstage to witness a truly remarkable 50 years of hip hop celebration by legendary rap group Wu-Tang Clan, who delivered their infectious rhymes accompanied by a live band. Afterwards, behind the stage, the group's de-facto leader RZA played an intense game of chess with Bege Fank while the rest of the band left their imprint by signing rapper Smoke Mardelanjo’s tattoo. As encapsulated by the members of American hardcore hip hop group Onyx: “The connection is hip hop; everyone loves it, knows it, understands it, lives it, and breathes it".
Over on the electronic music stage, the Keinemusik collective soothed Sunday audiences with percussion and soulful melodies. While EXIT Founder Dušan Kovačević welcomed the Dance arena’s final acts with his young son and father, he described the stage’s closing as “the most magical moment in electronic music!”
EXIT Festival 2024 takes place across July 11 to 14, register for pre-sale here