No zombies in this dream

As droves of very inebriated festival-goers camp out in a field just outside the town of Roskilde, the final touches are being made to a very different music festival: Henry’s Dream. Named after a 1992 Nick Cave album, the festival starts on June 18 and you shouldn’t expect a mindless party venture, as this is not supposed to be another run-of-the-mill festival.

The first thing that separates Henry’s Dream from the rest is its unknown location. You won’t be able to queue by a fence waiting to get the same spot for your campsite as last year, because you won’t know where the festival is being held. Instead, when the festival draws near, ticketholders will be told to gather at a specific location within Copenhagen where buses will take them to the festival site. In this way, the ‘destination unknown’ vibe will lend the festival a sense of adventure ahead of it even starting.

The distinctive quirks don’t end there as Henry’s Dream is not content with being just another festival. “We feel that many of the festivals in Denmark are too much alike,” said the public relations director for the festival, Esben Weile Kjær. “We want to get the festival-goers to create a new way to experience art. In that sense the whole festival is an experiment in our understanding and experience of art.”

It is through this experiment that Henry’s Dream hopes to challenge the way music is performed, as the musical part of the festival will merge with performance art and instillations, creating a whole sensory experiment. Thirty-five bands from all over the world will perform during the festival. There will also be a 24-hour techno venue, which will act as the pumping heart of the whole event.

According to Kjær, the festival aims to challenge the typical way an audience acts during a concert, by changing the traditional dynamic of sender/receiver rituals at concerts.  

“It won’t be possible to be just another passive consumer at the festival. We want to challenge the typical ‘zombie’ consumer mentality,” he explains. “The festival can’t exist without the audience and them taking an active role.”

In this sense we all become part of the act, rather than just fans staring star-struck at their heroes on the stage. The festival therefore places demands on the audience, and as further proof of that, guest who leave before the festival is over will not be allowed to re-enter the festival site.

Henry’s Dream intends to have a theme every year. This year’s theme is dreams and at the event dreams will be sculpted into installations in an attempt to create a new world that festival-goers walk into.

Henry’s Dream will not only attempt to challenge the whole concept of a music festival, but also the way we experience and understand society. The plan is to transform the festival area into a “parallel universe with its own rules, aesthetics and social patterns”.

It therefore seems that Henry’s Dream will border on being an anthropological experiment into existentialism rather than a music festival.

Kjær hopes that when people return from this parallel universe, they will leave with a sense they have been a part of creating a new way to experience art. Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: Henry’s Dream is set to be an experience like nothing else.

Henry’s Dream
Festival site unknown – assemble at pick-up points in Copenhagen; starts July 18, ends July 21; festival pass: 575kr;

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