Tinderbox: A Review
Why going to Tinderbox will get you ready for the European festival season
26-28 June, Tusindårskoven, Denmark
For the first time ever Tinderbox Festival in Odense, Denmark, made its mark on the European festival scene. The festival is the brainchild of the crew behind the already huge festival Northside, also located in Denmark. Tinderbox received massive amounts of criticism and scepticism from various festival organisations, concert bookers, music reporters and others for their attempt to create a huge festival hit in matter of less than a year. However, critics were soon silenced when the final line-up was released with names such as Major Lazer, Robbie Williams, Calvin Harris, Axwell Ʌ Ingrosso, Ellie Goulding, Faith No More and Danish superstar Mø.
Tinderbox had a promising line-up, but due to the fact that the festival was a first timer, even with a very experienced team, it was still uncertain whether the festival would deliver the expectations of festival-goers. It was apparent what the crowd of the first day (Friday) were anxious to see – Major Lazer and Calvin Harris. It would be nearly impossible to stroll around the festival – or even attend a concert – without overhearing expectant and party-ready people utter “Major Lazer, yeah!!”
It was during the first night of the festival that it became clear: Tinderbox was going to deliver on their promise – an amazing weekend in the company of dancing and jumping, booze-infused, fist-pumping and booty-popping people. Tinderbox had insured that the stage shows would be thrilling and explosive. In relation to many other festivals, Tinderbox had a less restricting approach to the stage shows where there was no shortage of pyrotechnics, lighting and at nearly every concert a performing artist would do a bit of crowd-surfing – Diplo of Major Lazer even took his time to run a lap atop the manically partying crowd inside an inflated zorb ball.
Tinderbox succeeded in part because of its relatively low amount of attendees, only 22,000 people. The concerts were consistently intimate, while still being strong enough in crowd numbers to get the festival atmosphere. It was up to the individual festival-goer how intimate they wanted the concert to feel, because it was possible to get exactly the spot you had wanted even when arriving after the concert had started. This intimacy of the concerts influenced the crowd, making them shout and dance even more – and the artists clearly felt the energy and responded. During the second day of Tinderbox Denmark experienced heavy rain, but this only reinforced the spirit of the most hardcore festival-goers to continue having a blast.
The huge success of Tomorrowland festival influenced this newly born festival, as Magicbox, their electronic stage located at the local open-air swimming pool – had been designed with the inspiration from the mega-electronic festival Tomorrowland. It was not long before it became apparent that Magicbox would be the scene to do some serious partying as names such as Robin Schulz, R3hab, Tensnake would take over the stage and bring the crowd to a prolonged climax.
Despite Magicbox being a general success, it was apparent from the comments of some festivalgoers that the line-up had a bit too much dance and electronic music in comparison to rock. The rock bands at Tinderbox included: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Cardigans, Faith No More, Royal Blood. Tinderbox could, however, pride itself on their electronic and dance parties. They managed these wonderfully, as both Friday and Saturday would contain the best dance music of the 90’s and today. The classic dance-floor hit-makers of the 1990’s, Faithless and The Prodigy, and rock legends Faith No More, made sure that the young and old crowd could share in on some memorable concerts with a light show and an atmosphere very reminiscent of a 1998 festival. Then they jumped 15 years ahead in the ten minutes between concerts to the major electro-house and EDM artists Calvin Harris and Axwell Ʌ Ingrosso.
Tinderbox was without a doubt a festival carried by the line-up and intense performances with a slight bias towards the dance genre. That being said, it should not be discarded as merely another dance music festival, as there was plenty of opportunity to experience a bit of everything. Every day of the festival would start off with a concert where relaxation and enjoyment was key. Hozier, Passenger, James Blake among others made sure to start of the day with some pleasant, yet pumping, tunes.
Tinderbox was definitely good value for money – a full-festival ticket cost 1.495kr (roughly £140). However, after spending some hours at the festival, a few downsides did become clear. First of all, Tinderbox is almost a complete replica of their older brother held a 150km away, Northside, except from the line-up. They both offer the exact same experience when it comes to wandering around, exploring the festival and it’s overpriced culinary offers. There’s a tendency for both these festivals to feel almost too comfortable. They are renowned for maintaining a clean and nice festival where people trying to avoid the roughness of larger festival can come to enjoy good music in their usual comfort. The increased comfort factor comes a huge benefit for all the festival-goers – almost no lines for the toilets, meaning that you’re able to do your business when you need to! The problem arises when comfort is taken too far – almost to the point of becoming posh. It would not take longer than ten minutes to go from one end of the festival to the other, passing by about half a dozen of champagne and cocktail bars – not your usual find at a festival with a line-up that encourage mosh-pits rather than sipping on fine wine. Furthermore, the festival offered a fenced-off VIP-area including a gourmet restaurant with waiters serving three course meals and £120 champagne bottles. Entering that area would require a VIP-ticket bought for an extra £95. It was a weird set-up that denied some of the party spirit and festival camaraderie I expected.
It was not only fences that kept people separate at the festival. There was no camping area, so guests would sleep in completely different parts of the city meaning there was very little social interaction between festival-goers. Tinderbox had in no way ensured interactions with people outside your social circle. That meant that rather than having a festival full of people partying with each other and acquiring new friendships, Tinderbox was a place you’d see clusters of people partying undisturbed with the friends they came with.
It deserves to be pointed out once more that this is Tinderbox’s first festival ever, so their obvious lack of tradition carries with it a bit of negatives. The expectation is that next year will be a more social, and less divided festival. It’s saddening to see a festival separated based upon who’s in and who’s got money –and with limited interactions between people with little familiarity.
In short, Tinderbox delivered an amazing weekend filled to the brim with incredible live performances by some of superstars of the 90’s and today and lighted it up with their intense stage set-up! There was almost no chance to relax because the program is so jam-packed. But that is what you’d want from a 3-day festival. Tinderbox did very well considering it was their first time opening the doors for party-hungry guests. So why should you go to Tinderbox?
Well, where else are you going to zigzag from Major Lazer to The Prodigy to Ellie Goulding to Faithless to Robbie Williams and get exactly the spot in the crowd you want, while getting an intimate concert amongst 22,000 other jumping and shouting people? Probably not a lot of festivals, which is why Tinderbox serves as the best warm-up to a summer of festivals, as it will get you fired up and craving more music and partying with a foolish smile stuck on your face.