Cinematic atmosphere, popcorn and loudest applause right from the cars, it had it all

It was only a day after we had published the news on how drive-in shows and cinemas are soon becoming a reality in Europe that I had an opportunity to try out this innovative format myself. Yesterday, the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, hosted its very first drive-in live concert. The drive-in “pioneers” happened to be legendary Estonian rockers, Smilers.

When heading to the show, I had loads of questions in my head. Will it be a success? How many people will want to enjoy the show this way? What about the sound quality from FM in your car? And will required social-distancing rules be followed strictly?

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Smilers’ show took place on spacious and welcoming Singing Grounds (Lauluväljak). About 300 cars surrounded our car and it did feel like people were tired of homestay regime and hankered after a live experience. The band were rocking on stage on this cold May evening (it was barely above zero), while the concert-goers could choose whether to have their car window or roof open and soak in the guitars and drums directly or to play it via FM radio. The FM sound quality exceeded my expectations but I would assume it depends on a particular car’s stereo.

Hm, and how will people show the band they’re enjoying what’s happening on stage? Isn’t it boring for The Smilers to be playing to quietly standing cars? Well, quiet were they in no way! Each song was followed by honking, flashing headlights, waving hands outside the car windows, which created this uniting feeling about it.

In fact, after the show, when the cars were leaving the field, one car driver realized he wasn’t able to start his car. Will you hazard a guess? Because of all the honking, flashing and playing loud music, the car battery naturally died. Luckily, there was a car nearby to help the loyal fan out. “Yes, this is something to think about,” said the crew member. “We need to have at least one car for emergencies like this”. Indeed.

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Smilers did their best onstage and played their best hits over the years, from rhythmic ‘Anna mulle tuld’ (‘Give me wind’) to ‘Hipisuvi’ (‘Hippy summer’), and as white nights are nearing in Estonia, and the sunset wasn’t rushing to start, it reminded less of a rock night and more of summer picnic time in the openair.

To make the atmosphere even more cinematic, Bolt Food delivery worked smoothly and efficiently directly to cars. You couldn’t order restaurant dishes that easily but just like in movie theaters, popcorn, snacks and drinks were only a click away. You didn’t even have to get out of your car!

In fact, all the social-distancing rules were followed by both the event crew and the visitors: from the number of people in the car (not exceeding two, unless you are a family) to no hanging around your vehicle. Very law-abiding crowd and safety insuring team.

The show is over, but the unusual feeling from it still remains. On the one hand, it’s a great way for friends or family to chill out together. On the other, the authentic rock element of it was a bit lost for me because of the distance from the stage and FM-transmitted sound. But that’s just for quarantine period, and we will soon enjoy “live live shows” with all the dancing, sweating and headbanging accompanying it, like before.

From Monday on, Apollo Autokino will show two films a day, including earlier March premieres and kids’ cartoons. This Thursday Tallinn enjoyed its first drive-in film screening, the tickets for which had sold out in the first four hours.

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