During my 10+ years spent in and out of Switzerland at different festivals and music venues, I think I got a pretty decent overview, especially when it comes to Europe. I don’t know it all, I still have a ton of events on my bucket list, but I’ve certainly encountered some interesting settings along the way. There were places I visited once and festivals I go back every year, for their uniqueness in terms of line up, scenery and organization. April means we can surely start to say goodbye to the winter chills and welcome some sun on our faces, but April also means that Zermatt closes the iced up season with a bang.
Zermatt Unplugged belongs to Switzerland’s Festival institutions, almost all concerts tend to be sold out and you definetly should be an early bird in terms of booking. The mixture of skiers, tourists and festival goers makes this cute little mountain town almost explode during this particular week, there’s almost no chance to act spontaneous, unless you have a wallet with unlimited resources. There is no venue or specific site for this kind of happening, because Zermatt Unplugged happens pretty much all over the place: in the main tent, on the streets with new rising talents, in different hotels and even further up, where the snow is still shining out bright under your feet.
The rockstar vibe is everywhere too. Let’s admit it, there isn’t too much space to play big VIP around here, but it also seems that the relaxed atmosphere motivates the artists to move around by themselves with a freedom they might don’t get everywhere they play. The chance to meet somebody who’s performing can easily happen in a restaurant, in one of the numerous hotel bars or, even better, at one of the two jam sessions during the week, this year at the Mont Cervin Palace Hotel. The Ronnie Scotts All Stars, a great jazz ensemble from London, belong to the permanent line up and alternate their sessions from the Gandegg Hütte, right at the Matterhorn’s feet, to their jam sessions. These are well known to turn into a little surprise party – right after the headlining concert, most of the artists can be seen here having a drink and to go up on stage for a song or two improvising. Paolo Nutini apparently liked it quite much and did it twice, joined by Peter Katz and Swiss newcomer Marius Bär, who seems to be our local Nutini pendant, voice wise. These kind of little happenings are great to unwind after a busy day roaming around the different venues, or simply to get lucky just in case your favourite artist’s show was sold out (Paolo Nutini’s concert was the fastest sell out in 10 festival years AND his only show in Europe for 2017). So warning, do not waste time unless you got your table reserved. Act fast if you wanna be part of the game, standing spots are limited and the little foyer gets packed very quickly – otherwise you’ll hear me say “I told you so”.
Despite the big names, that were included on this 10th birthay bash, like KT Tunstall or Nelly Furtado, where you usually should hold a single ticket for, there are various great bands and artists playing that can be listened to by only holding a festival pin. This gorgeous thing can be purchased for 20 Swiss Francs and allows you to visit a huge amount of shows. If you’re more on the late night side, I got you covered as well here: great DJs will make you party lion happy. This year’s electronic music sweethearts were coming from Stil vor Talent, or travelling uphill straight from Berlin like Jan Blomqvist. Besides all this goodness, there still is a range of free concerts that can be attended during the day.
Since it’s all about playing unplugged obviously, another great thing that you will experience is hearing your favourite singer in a complete different setting. Pop darling Jess Glynne for example, didn’t sound like on her records at all. Her show turned into a very funky set, which made me quite a fan to be honest. Another great add-on to this 10th anniversary, was the taste village: plenty of options for your belly, from classic cheese fondues to street food, with the bonus of the new talent stage right outside. My favourites this year were for sure grungy Ida Mae and soulful Marius Bär. What could be better to enjoy the sun until it sets, while listening to good music and eating great food? Here some vibes:
So what else should I say, here you have it, the reasons why I love it. Zermatt Unplugged offers a huge variety for every musical taste and age. The program is amazingly well elaborated and let’s face it, waking up for a while facing a scenery like this, is all you need. So grab your sunglasses, your festival boots and some edgy, open vibe, and get up here!
Read more about my Zermatt Unplugged visits
The next Zermatt Unplugged will be happening from April 10th to April 14th, 2018. More infos can be found here.
*all concert pictures credit: Zermatt Unplugged