Open Air Gampel is one of the main music festivals in Switzerland and it takes place in the beautiful Wallis canton. For me personally it represents something special, it is the first big open air I went to back in 2007, from there on there’ve been many others. The last time I attended Open Air Gampel it was in 2008, so it’s been great to be back there after six years. It has changed a bit, in 2008 the second stage was still under a tent whereas now it is a completely outdoor stage. I think it’s better like this, as it allows the bands and the audience to enjoy the view on the stunning mountains and the beautiful landscape. Pretty much all the artists playing the festival said it was one of the most beautiful they’d ever seen with that magnificent view on the mountains. We should never take for granted our beautiful mountains I guess. Open Air Gampel is well known for being mostly a rock and hard-rock festival, but it also features bands with other music styles. It is also a very open minded and avant-garde festival I would say, inviting bands who are coming to Switzerland for the very first time like Bear Hands and Clean Bandit. This year the festival broke a new record, there were 93’300 visitors over the four days! Follow me through these four days filled with music and sun!
Day 1-Thursday August 14
Them Fleurs, Stage 2, 2-2:45pm
Them Fleurs is a Swiss rock band from Bern. The singer’s voice has something intrinsically melodic in it, it’s beautiful and although having a happy tone it sounds rather melancholic at times. Their rock is also melodic and drifts at times into great instrumental bits. A Swiss band on which to keep an ear on!
Yokko, Stage 1, 4:15pm-5:15pm
Yokko is a band from Bern who won the Swiss Music Award 2014 in the category “Best Talent” and the prize is certainly well deserved. As they enter the stage there are big silver umbrellas and many instruments on it. They name their sound “Atlantic Wave” for a reason: their music makes you discover an ocean of sounds, taking you deep down into it and then rise up again to reach the surface. A clear example of it is when they play “Flood” which with its constant synth sound and drums beats builds up the sounds to add the guitars and the choruses in the refrain. There is a touch of rock with the guitar riffs, a bit of funk with the trombones and pop brought by the delicate but powerful voice of the singer Adrian Erni. They bring the audience through their repertoire playing songs which count multiple instruments in them and make you want to dance and groove to their sound. Their mighty choruses with the synthesizer in the background and those catchy drums beats make them different and special! Let their “Atlantic Wave” carry you and you’ll discover musical places you didn’t know existed.
Royal Blood, Stage 2, 5-6:10pm
This British duo is only composed by two young lads; singer and bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher. If you think this is not enough, you are entirely wrong! The mix of garage and power rock that they create is loud, pretty cool and engaging. They play furious and powerful instrumental solos, which makes you watch and listen to them in awe. The singer’s voice goes perfectly well with their style. When playing their tune “Little Monster” they get to the top of their powers letting the bass riffs and the drums beats taking over everything else. At 6pm, the amplifiers don’t seem to work anymore but Royal Blood come back a few minutes later for a short but intense instrumental encore.
A Day To Remember, Stage 1, 6:15pm-7:15pm
As soon as the American band comes on stage a bunch of colourful paper bits are thrown into the air creating an awesome scenery. They play a charismatic rock which turns screamo at times. However you can’t really label them, there’s a bit of everything and also softer pop-punk ballads like when they play “If It Means A Lot To You”. In a great American style, throughout the concert they shoot T-shirts with a giant toy-gun as well as toilet paper rolls. They are really engaging live and entertain the audience in between the songs. Another colourful bunch of paper bits and strings fills the sky above the fans’ heads as they bid goodbye as energetic as at the start of their set.
Skindred, Stage 2, 7:30pm-8:30pm
The charismatic lead singer, Benji Webbe, with his Rasta looks more like a reggae singer rather than a metal one. But as they start playing it soon becomes clear that their music is not just one style but a blending of many, among which metal, hip hop and reggae. With their blending of styles and great engagement they hold the public, which constantly jumps to all the tunes. At one moment the singer pretends to call his mum and tells her he his at a friends’ house and he asks the audience to “Say hello to Benji’s mum”. Among these funny sketches which entertain the public, this Welsh band’s music is truly engaging live.
Marilyn Manson, Stage 1, 8:30pm-9:45pm
A black curtain covers the stage; behind it you can see some shadows among which that of Marilyn Manson. As the music starts, the curtain falls and unveils the stage: two inversed red crosses in line with each other. Marilyn Manson is not as bony as I had imagined, I guess he must have gained some weight over the years. He is rigorously dressed in black and wears a long coat. On his forehead there’s a painted light blue circle with a kind of spiral in it. His songs are great live, characterized by that dark hard-rock sound topped with his husky voice coming from the afterworld, although getting a bit too hard at times. Marilyn Manson constantly moves around on stage, he pretends to strangle the guitarist while he is playing. Manson is known for being anti-conventional and provocative. During his set he soon seems to have issues with the microphones, getting angry because they seem to create an echo sound to him. He gets furious with the poor technician guy who after each song has to come up on stage and put back in to place all the amplifiers and the other stuff that Marilyn Manson throws off while singing. When playing “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” he comes on stage standing on stilts and he goes behind the tall kind of pulpit which was erected at the centre of the stage. His voice in this song is even darker but so engaging as the riffs in it are and everybody sings along. A great set, except the fact of his being so irascible, but I guess it goes well with his image.
SKA-P, Stage 2, 9:45-10:45pm
I caught SKA-P earlier this Summer at Caribana Festival where they were playing the big stage, they could have done the same here at Open Air Gampel because a sea of people was here to see them. They never disappoint and once again they entertain the audience with their smart songs about society on that catchy ska-punk rhythm which makes everybody dance! Pipi, although singing, is also the member of the band who dresses up for some of the songs. For the song “Vergüenza” which is about the Spanish tradition of the Corrida he disguises himself as a torero, which makes the song clearer also for people who can’t understand a word of Spanish.
Volbeat, Stage 1, 11pm-0:30am
The Danish hard rockers Volbeat literally set Open Air Gampel on fire, their stage entrance is announced by fireworks coming up from the stage. On the two sides of the stage there are a tombstone and a cross, one reads “RIP Lola Montez” and the other one reads “RIP Black Bart”, these two persons give the name to two of their songs. Their set is full of special effects: there are flames coming up the stage and you can feel the heat coming from it and the two tombstones and crosses on the side of the stage light up during the songs. The public jumps and goes crazy with them. Their tunes are not only heavy metal and hard rock there’s also a touch of rock n’ roll! They play a cover of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash and the singer Michael Poulsen imitates the “ee ee, aa aa” typical of Elvis Presley. They close their concerts with a boom as it started: heavy riffs, fireworks and fire!