My first day at Open Air St Gallen 2011 – muddy, a little chaotic, interspersed with some moments of sunshine and lots of good music.
After much faffing about getting there, I arrive in time to see The Vaccines on the Sternenbühne. I’m intrigued by them, people either love or hate them and I’m keen to see them live to see what the fuss is about. Singer Justin Young sounds terribly like Tom Smith from The Editors to me, but without Tom’s dark appeal. Their indie rock’n’roll sounds good, if a little predictable and unremarkable to me, but perhaps with a few beers I’d have a different perspective. Nonetheless, the audience is enjoying the set immensely; ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ brings showers of beer as cups are thrown up in air.
For their first time at Open Air St Gallen, Friska Viljor are on the main stage, the Sitterbühne. The Swedes are just getting more and more popular, and with good reason. Resistance is futile – their ukelele, glockenpsiel and singalong music is too infectiously good-natured and fun to resist. They are their usual jaunty, cheerful selves on stage, and play their set with aplomb, telling stories about girls won and lost, best friends (each other) and life and love. Swedish flags are waved around on long poles by crowd members. But what I really want to know is – how do they keep their clothes so blindingly white? Someone must know the answer to this laundry conundrum!
Post-industrial rock band The Young Gods are Swiss legends, they’ve been around for donkey’s years and B. loves them. He’s tried to persuade me to go and see them numerous times, but I’ve always found a reason not to. However, next time they play, I’ll be there with bells on, because they were damn awesome yesterday. Singer Franz Treichler was radiating some serious forcefulness and power on stage, the likes of which I haven’t seen for a long time. Impressive. Unfortunately, I had miss the last part of their set to do some interviews, but I’ll be definitely looking them up the next time they play Zurich.
Elbow was the major drawcard last night on the Sitterbühne, as evinced by the phalanx of photographers bristled underneath the stage, pointing their lenses into singer Guy Garvey‘s face and outstretched hands. Guy is the consummate showman, gracious and stylish, with a lovely Mancunian accent. I’d like to make special mention of the fact that Guy has epic hand movements. You know, I think I missed the Elbow bus somewhere along the line. A sacrilege! I hear thousands cry. Or at least, I haven’t had time to digest and appreciate their epic works. But even I, an Elbow novice, thought ‘Lippy Kids’ was genuinely lovely and moving. A polished and elegant performance, a deserved highlight.
My last gig of the day was Sheila She Loves You in the Marlboro Wah Wah Woom (I can’t say that without feeling like I have a lisp). The precocious indie popsters from Basel get better and better every time I see them. They played two sets last night, including some new material that is darker and more introspective than the sparkling pop melodies of their first album Esztergom. The latest single from Esztergom, ‘How’s About’ got a cascade of sopa bubbles in the air, lighters aloft and a crowd singalong. Aww. Expect some new material from the Sheila boys soon – I interviewed them earlier in the day and got the lowdown – stay tuned for that later.
A long, strange train journey home (what is it with teenage boys and knives?), a few hours sleep and back again for Saturday.
Best in show: Friday – The Young Gods, for sheer raw energy and power.