Earlier this year, in the heart of Sweden, a new festival was announced with a huge bang: Into The Valley. Within a few hours, the good news flew through the World Wide Web and with a close look at the line-up and setting of the festival, it was clear: „We have to go there.“ For me it was the same and before I knew it, I decided to ditch one of my favorite festivals - the Nachtdigital - for the first time after seven loyal years and booked my flight to Stockholm. For the couple of weeks left I suffered goosebumps when I counted down the remaining days to the beginning of the festival or told my friends about it. Last week, finally, it all happend. I climbed in a plane to Stockholm on Wednesday, then drove to Dalhalla in Rättvik - the place where the first Into The Valley should take place. First I have to say, I spent the most beautiful five festival days of my life. And with five good reasons.
Almost three hours north of Stockholm, there lies a small town called Rättvik. The tiny community of 5000 souls on the eastern shore of Lake Siljan, where it is rather quiet usually, should expect a record number of visitors this weekend. In addition to the people nearly five kilometers away in a limestone quarry called Dalhalla, which hosted the festival, a thousand automobile-lovers took stayed in town, to attend the Classic Car Week. So there was an interesting and eclectic mix of music lovers and car fanatics, to live their passions hand in hand. Some just came because of all the music, the other came for chrome tires, 500hp engines and hot stoves. The inhabitants of the town clearly enjoyed the fresh wind in their town, so they welcomed both teams with open arms. Five kilometers further, nearly 5,000 music lovers were dancing peacefully in probably one of the most impressive places you can ever imagine. The quarry not only managed an epic setting, but fired a sound, I had never heard anywhere in the world before. The main floor, situated on a kind of floating platform over the lake at the center of this funnel, a second floor slightly elevated but totally rainproof and last but not least, a third smaller floor overlooking the fucking huge main stage.
# 2 Sweden
The second good reason to visit this festival was, of course, obvious from the beginning: the festival took place in Sweden. The land of a thousand lakes and good looking ladies, the Scandinavian pearl - the land, I gave all my affection to, some time ago. Only the very journey from Stockholm by train in nearly four hours to the north set Rättvik, was worth it. Passing countless crystal clear lakes, deep and pristine forests and small villages with only a handful of small red houses, to the north of Uppsalla. The festival itself was situated in one of the most picturesque scenes and deep forest, the campsite on a glade not far from Dalhalla and last but not least a lake with beach, where the Breakfast parties took place, which were certainly something for all nature-lovers among us. While it did not get dark because of the to the midnight sun at night, you could - with a trained eye and little light - see the northern lights, enjoy a purple and red sunset above the lakes and take a morning stroll through glades, from which the fog gradually vanished.
#3 The Line Up
The location so without comparison, Sweden so unbelievable beautiful - the reason why most of us were withdrawn high into the north of Sweden: the line-up was most certainly reason enough. And indeed, I have nowhere else seen such a well curated, well thought out and especially high-caliber cloud of artists. It took quite some precise planning to pack the musical interests in such a strict timetable, and yet it was anything but difficult to find a good compromise - finally there were just two main stages that were seperated five minutes footwalk. And so Thursday began dignified for us, with a small but fine pre-party at the nearby campsite Östbjörka. The porch of this little red house was converted and Studio Barnhus welcomed us personally at Into The Valley Welcome. Goosebumps moments were overbooked, first friendships and hips warmed for a cold first starry night. Day two eventually went a tad too intense. Dom from Mount Kimbie beamed us to the start of a second day before it eventually became more explosive at a later hour. Floating Points threw us onto the second floor with a healthy dose of funk, DJ Koze and Acid Pauli provoked closed eyes with their oriental sound and then finally, John Talabot and Dixon took over and did what they do best: tell stories. The later the hour, the more drive was taken up and Richie Hawtin closed the main stage with a set of what we contemporaries still hear and love. Everyone got their perfect time slot and day three brought here the pulse went crazy. Nicolas Jaar started his set quietly, Axel Boman and Studio Barnhus in contrast were speeding up the gowd. And so the later hour the mainstage was dominated by Techno. Recondite rolled slowly but gloomy into the sunset, Ricardo Villalobos played great tunes and Ben Klock concluded in Berghain manner this last wonderful day. Somethings so complete I have rarely experienced.
I dare say the audienceis able to influence for like 50% my pleasure at an event. In this case, these 50% have probably risen to 150% satisfaction. Mutual give and take, consideration and respect were most important. The audience was educated thoroughly musical, everyone was aware, why he was here and many also knew why the others were here. All sorts of people mingled with the Swedish; lots of international guests who fortunately exactly knew, why they were here. On Sunday I heard some amazing news: No one was injured at the festival, I did not learn of any theft and conflicts. Respect, because this is something I've never experienced at a festival. Here they all went in the same direction and more importantly, with each other.
Now there were factors which made the festival certainly what it was, but could not be influenced from the outside, like the weather for instance - and yet, there are a thousand good reasons why Into The Valley can be remembered as what it was: Fantastically beautiful and almost paradisiacal in the Swedish price comparison. The drinks and the food on the festival area were amazingly low priced, the morning lunch package was put together by a local family in a loving micro-lab and there was always enough drinking water, for free. The security forces were as relaxed as the festival-goers themselves, the shuttle buses returned regularly to the campground and everyone had so much awareness for the unique nature. The complete package Into The Valley was almost too good to be true and therefore remains in perpetual, grateful remembrance.