Rebels With Several Causes

Serbia’s Exit Festival broke several of its attendance records by pulling 200,000 to the Petrovaradin Fortress at Novi Sad July 10-14.

Photo: Courtesy Exit Festival

Exit had somewhere between 160,000 and 170,000 in 2008 and 2009, when it was a four-day fest, and festival managing director Dusan Kovacevic says this year’s record comes courtesy of adding a day.

Although the figures show an average crowd of 40,000 per day, the number of single-day tickets sold – a record-breaking 20,000 across the five days – can mean the size of the Exit crowd may fluctuate from day to day.

On the Friday night there were nearly 47,000, a new record for daily attendance, to see a lineup that included The Prodigy, South Central, and DJ Fresh. 35,000 (another record) managed to get in front of the main stage for The Prodigy, while on the Saturday David Guetta drew a record-breaking 25,000 to the dance tent.

With so many people, the festival is proudly pointing out that at times it was processing incoming punters at the rate of 300 per minute – apparently also a record. “Exit 2013 succeeded beyond all expectations with audience numbers up compared to last year,” Kovacevic explained. “We are especially proud of the fact that the leitmotif of the festival was happiness and smiles on people’s faces, which made Exit a specific oasis of positive energy and awakened optimism.”

Exit wouldn’t be Exit without its “awakened optimism” and a plethora of good causes. This year’s edition was the 14th since Kovacevic, Ivan Milivojev and Bojan Boskovic started the festival as a protest against former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic. It’s since had several targets such as any sort of social injustice, particularly any issue that may be limiting the potential of youngsters growing up in Serbia.

This year’s festival claimed to be the place “where hedonism meets activism.” One of its goals was to “promote the importance of culture, science and education among the youth and the society in general.” In the early days when Milosevic’s shadow still hovered over the country, Kovacevic and Boskovic did prison time for these causes.

Both were later released without charge. “Exit is the only music festival to be created as an effect of youth activism and aims to continue to mobilize the public opinion and thought leaders in the field of youth development on a regional and a global level,” read a statement after the festival. The other acts helping to break records at Exit included Atoms For PeaceBloc PartyCee Lo GreenFatboy SlimSnoop LionChase & StatusDubfire, and SBTRKT.