Day 3: Saturday August 16
Open Season, Stage 2, 1:30-2:30pm
This Swiss German band makes the audience dance and jump to their catchy mix of ska and funk music. The trombones and sax give to the songs that extra funky touch which makes them really danceable.
American Authors, Stage, 2.30pm-3:30pm
These five guys from Brooklyn bring to Gampel their optimistic indie-rock sound for their first Swiss show. A folky touch is given by the ukulele and the many other instruments they play create a great range of sounds. They dedicate the tune “Trouble” to all the girls who scream happily. Singer Zac Barnett jumps off the stage throughout the set to greet the public as he sings. His voice drifts at times into a falsetto and is then let out in all its power. They close their set with the single: “Best Day Of My Life”, you may have heard it on the radio as I did and the catchy rhythm and refrain is probably still stuck in your head. Their songs have a catchy pop tone topped with a touch of folk given by the ukulele. The drum which the singer and the drummer play at times brings something more exotic to their sound.
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Stage 1, 4:45-5:45pm
Frank Turner had to play at Open Air Gampel last year but he had to cancel his show because he was injured. He and his band The Sleeping Souls are preceded by an historical intro song about England, it sounds like some kind of ancient patriotic song. They have an incredible energy on stage making everybody dance to their folk-rock music. Before playing “Recovery” Frank Turner invites on stage a member of the crew to teach the audience the “Ampelmann dance” which consists in stretching out arms and legs simultaneously and then bringing them back together. He says that Switzerland has the best dancers and that we have to prove so. We are told to follow the crew member moves and it turns out to be great fun! During the refrain everybody is doing the “Ampelmann dance”. Frank Turner is joined on stage by another crew member who holds out a piece of paper to him with a bit of one of his songs translated into Swiss German and he reads it out loud. The audience claps and really appreciates his nice effort. Then they play “Photosynthesis”, with its rhythmic guitars chords and the mandolin, as well as the witty refrain “I won’t sit down and I won’t shut up and most of all I won’t grow up” that the audience sings out loud. Frank Turner and his band have great folk and rock ‘n’ roll tunes which are easy to sing along! He reminds the audience that rock ‘n’ roll is the most important thing with the song “I Still Believe” and the lines “Who’d’ve thought that after all it’s rock n roll”. An amazing live performance which is now in my top list, definitely a must see!
Pegasus, Stage 2, 5:45-6:45pm
As I go towards Stage 2 after Frank Turner’s gig the crowd is already cheering for the arrival of Pegasus, a Swiss pop-rock band from Biel. Here in Gampel they present they’re latest album Love & Gunfire. As soon as they come out on stage, all wearing elegant suits, they say hi to the audience and play their new tune “Digital Kids”, with its addictive electro beats in the background topped with guitars riffs. There is nothing more true than what its lyrics say: “We are digital kids in a digital world”. Singer Noah Veraguth has an impressive vocal range which allows him to go pretty high up. Pegasus are incredibly entertaining live, their songs seem made to be sung and played live at a festival since they make everybody dance and sing along. We are catapulted into a futuristic space of sounds and lyrics with “Man On Mars”. A great instrumental drum solo closes the set before the encore, which features the new song “I Take It All”. Starting off with a gentle rhythm “I Take It All” breaks the wall of sound as the refrain approaches and Noah Veraguth’s voice increases in tone. Singing along from beginning to end also the audience is left without voice but with a memorable concert to hold on to.
Blacklist Royals, Stage 2, 8-9pm
The US-rockers Blacklist Royals range between rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock. In Gampel they present their last album Die Young With Me from which they play the thoughtful same-titled guitar tune. They have powerful riffs and great lyrics, which are also great to sing along to. But there is also space for slower songs where the guitar turns acoustic. They say Open Air Gampel is the best festival they’ve ever played at and the audience screams happily. The singer’s rather deep voice spouses itself well with the dirty rock ‘n’ roll and takes you back in time. The audience certainly enjoyed this journey.
Mando Diao, Stage 1, 9-10:15pm
The last (and first) time I saw Mando Diao it was here at Open Air Gampel back in 2008, I remember I loved their concert and that indie, rock ‘n’ roll vibe they had. As they take the stage 6 years later they are almost unrecognizable. The stage is all covered with white pieces representing another world and the back of the stage shows a black sky full of stars. A synth-music starts as Gustaf Norén comes out all dressed in a white tunic, with weird silver pants on. He declares that Mando Diao have changed and he explains that the reason is that Kristian Gidlund, a friend of theirs who played the drums in Gustaf Norén’s brothers band Sugarplum Fairy died of cancer one year ago. Since then, he says, Mando Diao have changed and no longer play on earth but they are in another world with Kristian. As he ends his speech he invites the audience to clap for the other singer Björn Dixgård. They open the concert with “If I Don’t Have You” a song taken from their new album and which is dedicated to their friend who disappeared. It’s a touching song, with slow synths and constant beats in the background making you feel as if you are truly in another world and with Björn’s and Gustaf’s voices intertwining and completing each others. It’s not really what I expected from them but since they changed it’s pretty obvious that also their music had to undergo changes! They then go through their older tunes playing “Down in the Past” in a rearranged key with an electro-synth base. Gustaf Norén, sitting on the piano says “Perhaps some of you were here when we played here a long time ago. We want to thank you Switzerland for being so open-minded. It’s beautiful to see you all here together.” He then introduces the next song by saying they wrote it when they were 16, it’s their banger “Long Before Rock ‘n’ roll” for which the Swedish guys are back to their old rock n’ roll sound and energy. The audience goes crazy jumping and singing along! To introduce “Dance With Somebody” they ask the audience if they are ready to dance, and yes the public is of course ready to dance! The blending of their voices as well as the sound of the guitars and electric double bass make their tunes danceable and great indie party anthems. For “Gloria” the sound turns once again rather electro, amazing to dance to and singing along. When they play “Money Doesn’t Make You A Man”, Gustaf comes on stage carrying a small backpack attached to an oxygen mask, is it a way to convey the idea that you can be ill even if you have money? Perhaps. To anticipate the next song, Bjorn asks the audience “Which day is it today?” and the audience: “Saturday!”, then he reiterates “Which day is it everyday?”, “Saturday!”, and off they go playing “Black Saturday”. Another memorable concert by Mando Diao, who although having changed and embraced a new style, still have that indie-rock soul which made us fall in love with them back in the years!
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