From June 23rd to 26th 2022, Defqon.1 Weekend Festival took place at Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands. This festival is nothing short of massive. And when we say huge, we mean one of the largest campsites in Europe with over 45,000 campers; multiple stages; 36,000 square meters of decking floors; 30 kilometers of construction fencing; 1 kilometer of stage barriers; over 150 cabin and containers and more than 61 machines for lifting on the busiest build-up day…
Commissioned by one of our trusted clients, Q-dance, team Backbone has been involved in the production of Defqon.1 Weekend Festival for many years now. For the 2022 edition, we produced multiple stage areas like the BLACK, BLUE, RED, UV, the Premium & Relation Deck, and the entire campsite, including the Comfort Camping, among other things. Backbone’s responsibilities ranged from technical design to full technical production, from overlay management to the whole campsite production. This year, Backbone was also responsible for managing the power infrastructure.
Technical Producer Jari van Leerdam, “What we do at Backbone is translating the often wild creative ideas from our clients into feasible plans and make it executable and buildable within the set budget. The process starts with the technical designs where we set and map out every detail, and let me tell you, there was a lot for Defqon.1. After that, the whole pre- and actual (technical) production begins”
Backbone was responsible for the big and smaller stages. The main stage – well known as “RED” -, was the biggest of them all, being 152,5 meters wide and 38 meters high. Across “RED” was the Premium & Relation deck built on 60 pontoons. “Our team started working on the full pre-production of the 2022 edition almost 7 months in advance. Then from June 7th, everyone got on-site, with June 22nd being the deadline for everything to be ready. June 23rd was marked for show rehearsal and the day for final tweaks, and the festival eventually ran from June 23rd until the 26th. We collaborated closely with Q-dance, Artfx, The Whole She-Beng and many other fantastic parties on this huge project. Together we were able to create something truly magical.” Jari recalls.
Of course, every production brings its own challenges. “Unfortunately, the much-experienced crew have left the industry due to covid. So, the buildup and production took longer than we were used to. Another “test” for us was that we were conducting a simultaneous load-in with the load-out of De Opwekking, another large event on the same terrain. So, a single entry point to the venue was used two ways. We were, in a way, fully dependent on the other organizers to build off and load out in time. But despite all the challenges, we still pulled through and made it all work. Seeing thousands of people ran inside when the RED Stage gates opened was an absolute highlight. It makes all our hard work more than worth it.” concludes Jari.
With seven different fields to set up and fully prepare for over 45,000 visitors daily – the campsite production for Defqon.1 Festival was no easy feat. Mette Horstman, Technical Producer at Backbone and campsite in-charge “The facilities available at the campsite ranged from a full-blown “Glamping” experience including bars, a hairdressing- and massage salon, jacuzzis and many other activities, to rows and rows of toilets and showers.” At Field 1, the “Glamping” area called Comfort Camping, there were private suites- real luxury tents with bathrooms and toilets. Some containers were converted into hotel rooms and other great accommodations. Everything you needed was present at the Comfort Camping – from multiple different facilities and activities to a beautiful reception area and even wellness. This campsite was quite something with exotic plants, various lounges, and fancy furniture. Field 2 onwards got more “basic.”, but the team had to ensure that all the infrastructure was in place and all the happy campers had access to everything they needed for the weekend.
“Post Covid-19, due to increased prices and a shortage of good crew, making a nice and cozy campsite was much more expensive. And normally, with an experienced crew, things get produced quickly, but now it takes twice the time. We needed more creative thinking and collaborated with many more people and suppliers to make things happen. I still can’t believe we pulled it all off eventually. Once everything was ready and running and seeing all the happy campers having the best times of their lives, that’s the moment where it all comes together.” states Mette.
Preparing a site like Defqon.1 Festival requires countless hours of planning & preparation. Backbone took care of all the infrastructure and overlay. From fences to pagoda tents and tables to chairs, ropes, fire extinguishers and signage – the list is long and detailed! Laurens Kaizer, Production & Overlay Manager at Backbone, “The numbers we worked with were insane: 10.5 kilometers of bamboo to cover the fences; 196 pagoda tents; around 15,000 Square meters of Aluhal and 110 refrigerators for backstage only. Working with one or a couple of suppliers for it all was impossible. In fact, for this edition, we worked with hundreds of them!” Every year, the effort is to make the whole build-up process eco-friendlier. “We try to increase the switch to electric vehicles. Seeing the crew ride on-site on bikes is regular now, but this edition saw close to 300 electric bikes and scooters being used on the busiest day! This is definitely a step in the right direction.” says Laurens.
With all the challenges the pandemic and other world events have brought, every single crew member took a united front and rose to the occasion. “It is so cool how much was achieved despite all the hick-ups. Seeing the team making the impossible possible in such challenging times is the real icing on the cake and makes me very proud! Jari, Mette and I are the ones doing the word here. Still, we could never have done it without our Backbone colleagues Jenno Roelofs (Technical Producer) and Mick Hoezee (Overlay Producer), who made countless hours during the pre-production, on-site, as well, as after the event. And, of course, Stan van Winden (Technical Designer), Jos de Ruig (Technical Producer & Overlay Manager), Sven Leinenga (Technical Producer & Overlay Manager), Frank Stechwey (Technical Producer) and Simone Verhagen (Planning), the client and all the suppliers! Cheers to the entire team for yet another successful Defqon.1 Weekend Festival” ends Laurens.
Official event photo credits: Defqon | Q-dance