This weekend the sleepy little mountain town of Andermatt (in Switzerland) transformed into a hot festival destination. All thanks to the newly launched music festival AndermattLive!
I had a chance to have a quick chat with the founders of the fest: Jenny Russi and Shane Lutomirski, who have put their hearts and incredible amounts of energy into organizing the two-year old fest. The young female organizers, both still at university studying for their master degrees, exerted incredible enthusiasm and passion for their pet-project. You could feel their dedication and will to grow the fest.
Shane recalls that “it started off small last year, with us asking all our friends and families if they wanted to help. But this year we already have 50 volunteers. People are showing a lot of excitement and support for the festival!”.
The focus of AndermattLive! is the discovery of new artists in an intimate way. “We are a new festival in town and we need to build up a reputation”, says Shane. “Once we are established, then we’ll maybe look into larger headliners; but that’s not the focus for now”.
Indeed, any concert I checked out was quite a discovery. The festival showcases newcomer Swiss artists (and there is a fair amount of visible talent among the Swiss, I must say), with a couple international acts too.
AndermattLive! takes place in 4 venues spread out around town (max 5 minutes walking distance separates each venue), therefore be prepared for a little bit of walking in between gigs.
Concerts start at 19:00. This allows you to enjoy a full day of skiing and even get an apres-ski and dinner in before succumbing to the evening music.
My evening started in the venue: Pinte – a small cozy underground bar, where the feeling of intimacy was magnified by the cackling fire-place just next to the bar. Here, the artists have a great chance to interact with the crowd and develop a personal rapport with it. The venue fills up quickly and if you want to actually see the artists, you have to head deeper into the bar, as the stage is further to the back of the venue.
My second stop was the underground venue Pow Pow, which later in the evening turns into a club. The stage is slap-bang opposite the bar, so no matter where you are positioned, even in the seated lounge, you will always see the artist. This venue is much larger, with louder volumes and its very own disco-ball. It was good to see here more lively acts that tempted the audience to dance along to the tunes.
Later on in the night, the Main-Stage venue opened up. When I entered it, I couldn’t help feeling being transported to my high-school days – the venue was the local school’s event hall. It was an interesting experience, quite a surprising one actually, as I have never been to a fest that had artists play in a school hall. In my mind, this somehow didn’t entirely fit into the concept of the festival. On the up-side AndermattLive! is still a young venture, so I am sure it will evolve in the years to come.
The final stage – The Storytellers Stage – was situated in an office, it seems, that was transformed into a large living-room. With fairy-lights hung across the walls and carpets spread out on the ground for the audience to sit on, you really did have the feeling of intimate connection with the artists. The stage was not elevated so the more lively musician that provoked the crowd to stand and dance, was blocked from view for those standing at the back. Nonetheless – a unique approach to setting up a stage – quite an enjoyable experience.
On the tech side: I would have personally loved some kind of app to guide me around the festival. As I am a very poor map-reader, the printed map did not entirely accommodate my need of moving effortlessly from venue to venue. I ended up bumping into other fest-goers who were also wandering around looking for the next gig – I guess this is also a nice way to meet your fellow fest-lovers 🙂
Also, I saw numerous fellow festival goers referring to the festival’s webpage to check the next concerts (thank goodness for 4G!). I think here, the fest has potential to develop.
If I could make a recommendation regarding accommodation: if possible, get a room in Andermatt itself. There are unfortunately no taxis nor local night buses that could take you back to surrounding towns. I was based 4km outside of Andermatt and didn’t really have much choice on what time to come back. The fest was nice enough to set up a bus that passed through my town as well – so kudos for that!
As AndermattLive! was a success two years in a row (with 1,500 tickets sold on both nights), I think the fest should be bolder and more visible in its promotion – online and offline. For the 2 days of the festival, it should take over the town of Andermatt and excite all Andermatt visitors – including those on the slopes during the day. I was happy to hear that the festival was also considering setting up day concerts in the mountain restaurants – but this is future music. Hopefully we will be able to experience it in 17-18 March 2017, with the next edition of the fest.
All in all, an enjoyable way of experiencing the Swiss mountains and Swiss local acts. I am excited to see how AndermattLive! will develop down the road.