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An Adventure Into The Thousand Year Forest: Tinderbox Festival 2019

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Being Denmark’s newest city festival with nearly 40,000 guests in attendance,

Tinderbox Music Festival was an absolute party from start to end. Curated by Down The Drain (Århus), FKP Scorpio (Hamburg), and Beatbox Entertainment (Copenhagen), the three companies have created a festival to attract an international scope in Denmark’s 3rd largest city. Located in Tusindårsskoven (The Thousand Year Forest) in the city of Odense, the festival has incredible charm. To enter the festival grounds, attendees venture through a quaint forrest path that leads you to the entrance. But be mindful passing through, as the majority of festival goers arrive to the festival each day by bike. Personally, our group instead utilized the shuttle which traveled from central Odense to the festival grounds, and back — a pass for the entire weekend with unlimited rides was only 50 DKK ($7.60 USD). This year’s line-up featured headliners such as Swedish House Mafia, Sheryl Crowe, A$AP Rocky, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Diplo, The Chainsmokers, and more; making it more than well worth the daily journey.

Once you enter the festival grounds,

the forrest opens up into a beautiful field surrounded by tall trees, decorated with art installations, a ferris wheel, and stages. There were a variety of stages, with the two mains being Red Stage and Blue Stage. These hosted the headlining acts, and were located close enough that the walk between them was rather short and the audio between stages, impressively, didn’t interfere with each other. That being said, the speakers were still incredibly loud providing more than enough bass to fuel the function. The additional stages included Magicbox, Moonshine, and Groovebox.

My favorite of the smaller stages was

hands-down Magicbox. This stage was a bit more hidden compared to the main stages, having to follow another forrest path to access it. Appearing similarly to something straight out of Tomorrowland, the Magicbox stage represented a castle out of a fairytale — decorated with an incredible light show, pyrotechnics, CO2, and more. Surrounding the scene there was a massive pool, bars, and food available. To see an artist you definitely wouldn’t want to miss, you would want to arrive there a bit early as sometimes the festival security actually closes off the entrances to the area once they reach capacity. If the area does reach capacity, you could always check the Tinderbox app for updates on availability, and be notified when the Magicbox gates are closed or open again.

To my surprise, this festival was one of the cleanest and most secure festivals I’ve attended.

With the festival grounds being in such a controlled and contained area, Tinderbox did not slack on having an excess of volunteers ready to complete the difficult task of keeping the grounds nearly pristine. Throughout the day and walking through crowds, you’d run into a volunteer in a “Trash Hero” coat coming to save the day and take away any garbage that might be nearby. Tinderbox’s trash heroes managed to keep the grounds pretty clean most of the time which made it easy to feel comfortable sitting or laying down nearly everywhere. Providing additional comfort, there was additionally an excess of security throughout the festival. They either patrolled by bike or in a small group, often appearing to insure everyone was having a good time and there wasn’t anything wrong. If something did happen to get out of hand, they were there quickly to stop it. The festival’s policy is that if you disturb the happiness and peace of the event, your wristband gets cut off immediately — providing plenty of incentive to behave properly enough throughout its duration.

Top 10 Best Performances

1. The Chainsmokers 

When I attend festivals in America, it’s not unusual to see The Chainsmokers on the line-up. To my memory, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen The Chainsmokers at least once per year dating back to 2013. As time has passed over the years, their craft and production has clearly grown — leading them to earn a spot as one of the top performers of the weekend. When speaking to attendees, asking who they thought brought the best performance, the majority immediately answered The Chainsmokers.

What blew the Danes away about The Chainsmokers production was their obvious talent for performing and performance production. While fireworks, confetti, etc., are a normal part of performances in USA, these elements are a bit more rare to see in Denmark. This is due to the country’s laws and, most likely, the artists traveling from USA to Denmark to perform. For example, Denmark has laws regarding the “seasons” you are allowed to use fireworks. To gain permission to use fireworks in an “off season” (such as summertime) the state must approve it. It was very apparent throughout the show that The Chainsmokers worked diligently to make this performance an unforgettable memory through the usage of pyrotechnics, fireworks, and confetti (which was even specially selected to be only red and white — the colors of the Danish flag). Their extra efforts did not go unnoticed, and truly blew away the crowd for an authentic American performance while paying tribute to Danish culture which entertained the crowd from the very beginning to the end.

2. Greta Van Fleet 

Prior to Tinderbox 2019, the last time I had seen Greta Van Fleet live was at Hangout Music Festival 2018 in Gulfshores, Alabama. Since seeing them last, it was comforting to see that they have remained true to their own sound and performance, bringing an incredible live performance to Tinderbox. Fans were blown away by the powerful vocals and old-school rock and roll sound. They exceeded the crowd’s expectations, and easily became a new favorite artist for the attendees.

3. J Balvin

The most surprising act to blow me away was definitely J Balvin. All I have to say is: thank GOD someone other than Pitbull is trying to popularize Reggaeton. No disrespect to Mr. 305, definitely appreciate the party bangers he’s provided throughout the years, but it’s time for another artist to provide Reggaeton for the world.

Prior to his performance beginning, the front barricade was lined up with fans holding Colombian flags, chanting (what seemed to be) encouraging messages in Spanish, absolutely unable to wait for him to emerge in the spotlight. As soon as J Balvin walked on stage, the crowd completely erupted, beginning to sing along loudly and dance passionately from the first song on. The performance was full of great music and great dancing. If you’re looking for an excuse to enjoy a night of Latin partying, I’d highly recommend catching J Balvin when he comes to a city near you.

4. Diplo 

Being well-known for his international blends, Diplo brought a booming bass-filled performance to Tinderbox. Emerging on stage with two Danish flags sticking out of his hat, Diplo made it clear he was not a stranger to Denmark and was ready to rock with the crowd — which is exactly what he did. The late night set provided the perfect setting for everyone to let loose and dance the night away. To conclude his performance, Diplo ran through the audience with a Danish flag, and proclaimed his love for the small country.

5. Billie Eilish

Out of all the concerts I’ve seen, I’ve never witnessed a female performer receive as much applause as Billie Eilish. In 2012, I got to attend Justin Bieber’s tour — which crazily I was barely able to hear him over the screaming fans. If I hadn’t had been in the photo pit, I can imagine attendees in the back of the audience experienced the same problem at Billie’s set — creating even more desire to be closer to the superstar. Seriously, I have never seen so much love for a female artist which amazed me. The crowd sung along WILDLY to her haunting tunes. The crowd’s clear attempts to interact with Billie were definitely well received as she took a moment from her performance to speak to the crowd — encouraging them to feel whatever it is they might be experiencing in the moment, whether it be love or hate for her performance. She spoke passionately about embracing your feelings and not letting others dismantle your emotions. Your feelings and opinions are valid, no matter what they might be.

6. Rick Astley 

Have you ever been Rick Roll’d in real life? Because I have, and I loved every moment of it. I definitely attended the show waiting to hear the Rick Roll song, and ended up staying for more. Rick brought a vibe that made one feel like they were living in an 80s music video. The crowd overall was a bit older, but you could see attendees of any age enjoying the performance.

7. Miley Cyrus 

Minutes before Miley took the stage, Josephine and I both said we hope this is going to be a spiritual experience. Shortly after that, the lights went out, and the show started. Miley’s set begun with psychedelic visuals of her sexualizing a variety of foods. Following the provocative introduction, the screen quickly flashed “SHE. IS. COMING.” and the lights went out once more. Entering the stage as she performed “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart”, Miley immediately had, what seemed to be, the entire festival’s attention. As the outro begun, Miley quickly switched up the mood going into her latest hit single “Mother’s Daughter”. Things quickly went up a notch when Miley called for her mother to join her on stage, and rock out to the tune. This was an epic moment to see.

As if it wasn’t possible for the performance to become any more exciting, Miley spoke about how much she admired the “graduation hats” throughout the audience. In Denmark, once you graduate high school, you “become a student”. Once you become a student, it is tradition to spend the week partying with your classmates in your hats, celebrating the end of an era. Along with the celebrations, there is a sort of game that goes along with the hats. Different drawings and things that happen to the hat signify how much fun you had during your celebrations. The one with the best indications of the week is usually the “winner”. In response to Miley’s admiration for the hats, an audience member gave her their graduation hat which she wore on stage, licked the cap, and more. It’s safe to say, whoever’s hat that was, won the graduation hat game, not only in Odense, but throughout the country.

In addition to all the fun, what impressed me most about Miley’s presence was the way she spoke about what mattered to her most: improving the quality of life in America. She spoke passionately about how much she adored the good food in Denmark, the polite people, and more which she believes Americans could learn from. The most impressive factor of her speeches was that she didn’t turn it into a political discussion but rather a caring conversation between her and the crowd. Miley wants life for Americans to be better, and she wants the world to know she is working tirelessly on it any way she can.

8. Martin Jensen 

Having growing up in a small town to headlining Tomorrowland in 2017, I was incredibly excited to check out Martin’s set during Tinderbox. While there are several internationally-known Scandinavian DJs, there is a very limited amount coming from Denmark. Out of the three, Martin is definitely the one with the talent and drive to achieve a more-than promising place in the American music industry.

From the moment he revealed himself on the Magicbox stage, he was smiling ear to ear — clearly overjoyed to have the opportunity to host Magicbox’s next party of the day. The crowd went absolutely wild and begun to dance and cheer very loudly for Martin. His set was true to the typical tropical-house, Scandinavian feeling, but also surprising as he’d whip out tracks with heavier bass and powerful rhythms which would fit right in at a late night American festival scene — the kind of tracks that would make you think, “where’d you find that??”. The best way I could describe his set to someone who isn’t familiar with his music would be to imagine a back to back set between Fisher and Porter Robinson. Yeah, he brings that kind of party — one you dream of.

9. A$AP Rocky 

With Lil Uzi Vert cancelling his performance at Tinderbox, this left A$AP as the only American hip-hop artist on the line-up. Outside of America, there is a particular fascination with American hip-hop as an art which, I believe, is not capable of being replicated outside the United States as far as authenticity goes — as the story telling is very true and very unique to parts of American culture. This created a particularly exciting hype around A$AP’s highly anticipated performance.

The performance begun with a white sheet draped in front of the stage. Once the intro audio begun, two masked figures ran throughout the crowd inciting madness throughout the audience. They were standing on the barricades to hype the crowd up, spraying attendees with water hoses, anything you could imagine to bring the energy through the roof.

Once the white sheet dropped and A$AP revealed himself to the crowd, the audience absolutely lost it. The performance reminded the attendees of how long A$AP has been around, as he whipped out banger after banger — highlighting the most exciting tracks of his complete discography. There was not one song that the audience wasn’t familiar with, which was truly incredible to see — especially in a country where English is not their first language.

10. Swedish House Mafia 

I think Swedish House Mafia broke all of our hearts with the announcement of their disbandment in 2013. Luckily, the group has reunited and brought one of the best house performances I have ever seen in my life to Tinderbox. Similar to A$AP Rocky’s performance, the performance begun with a white sheet dropping from the top of the stage to reveal a set up of a massive LED screen in front of their DJ decks. Above each DJ, there was an installation resembling a flying saucer floating over them — with three representing the Swedish House Mafia logo. The saucers rose and fell, creating a very impressive light show for the attendees to enjoy. The finale, and perfect way to close the festival, begun with “Don’t You Worry Child” and featured a very impressive firework show.

All in all,

Tinderbox is a festival I would recommend for any festival fan — particularly those who are fond of good and clean fun. The festival was well organized, secure, offered great food and drinks, very clean, and most importantly, offered an out of this world line-up. An early-bird three-day ticket (available now) for the festival costs 1545 DKK ($234.21 USD). If you are traveling to Denmark, we would highly recommend investing in this experience as it’s definitely not one you will ever forget.

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Coverage by Alexandra Cole and Josephine Kyllebæk

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