Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Tinderbox Orchestra, Tinderbox Collective, EdFringe 2023 ★★★★★

Tinderbox Orchestra presents an eclectic, vibrant mixing pot of musical joy, all tied together with a brilliantly contagious enthusiasm. Tinderbox’s fresh, unique fusion of folk styles, rap, and prog rock is a true genre-bending multi-sensory delight.

Though certainly more gig than classical concert, the evocative movement direction and utterly contagious enthusiasm of the performers pushes this showcase well beyond your typical live music event. The intimate seating arrangement of the venue lends an intensity to the whole affair, allowing the performers to move into and around the audience, enveloping them in pulsing waves of sound. 

Speaking of, Tinderbox’s concert is certainly enhanced by its environs – an absolutely beautiful space in the top of Edinburgh Central Library that made for a stunning setting for this musical experience. Similarly, the simple, elegant lighting design and vibrant costuming created a much needed consistent visual identity for a show that is so sonically dense, complex, and dynamic. 

Tinderbox truly has something for everyone thanks to their scattershot influences and multitude of collaborating artists. Each new piece paints a wholly unique sound world, pulling on a vast star field of different musical genres and instrumental technique and with each performance introducing a new composer or collaborator. This structure lends well to showcasing Tinderbox’s remarkably varied discography, with extended moments of silence and quiet introductions serving as a palette cleanser between each act.

Tinderbox’s eclectic inspirations and novel sound speaks to the very cause they aim to promote with this concert series, championing musical diversity and platforming marginalised artists. The Collective are fundraising to open instrument libraries throughout Scotland, aiming to break down the financial barrier that prevents so many from pursuing a passion for music. With a portion of the ticket sales going towards this cause, Tinderbox is pushing against decades of arts funding cuts and

institutions which have repeatedly placed music education as the least of their priorities. 

Just about every performer gets their moment in the spotlight, but what stands out most is the sense of connection you can feel between the performers – building on each other’s energy and getting the whole audience rocking along with them. It’s the same connection you’d expect from any mainstream band, but is something you never really get to see in such clear focus with an ensemble of this size. Any ensemble that can get the whole crowd clapping along in 7/8 time is a win in my books.

For lovers of experimental music and spoken word, this is a must-see and I had a brilliant time going in blind. For those with more narrow artistic interests, the sheer variety of different forces which Tinderbox brings together might be a challenge at some points, but this is by no means a bad thing and I found myself leaving the venue with a newfound appreciation for genres I’ve previously never really given the time to. 

A brilliant concert in its own right, made standout by its stunning venue, enticing movement direction and an ecstatic band of brilliant instrumentalists, Tinderbox Orchestra is a must-see for anyone with an ear for something new. Catch it at 8pm on the 11th, 12th, or the 17th – 19th in the Edinburgh Central Library. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.

Recommended Drink: Pair up a dark and stormy with a shot of fireball before catching this one and be prepared for gloomy atmospheres to ignite with the spark of a Tinderbox.

Callie O'Brien

Callie is an experimental composer and theatre technician, with a love for all things eclectic, ethereal, meta, and weird. She is enticed by shows that play at the boundaries between music, movement, art, and acting, and those which explore neurodivergence and the queer experience. Her drink of choice is a Long Island Iced Tea - why choose a single spirit when you can have them all?

Festivals: EdFringe (2023)
Pronouns: She/Her