After a two-year pandemic break OpenAir St.Gallen, in the North-East of Switzerland, finally made a comeback. As one of the longest-running festivals in the country this break was huge for both festival makers and attendees so this year OASG made sure to present an epic four-day event. A record amount of tickets were sold and while the first two days were traditionally very rainy the sun finally came out for the weekend. The park grounds were absolutely packed and the festival area is geographically very limited, which led to huge waiting lines at all food stalls, entrances, and stages, especially in the first two days as some downhill paths were unusable due to the mudslides. But no rain could stop people from making their way in, especially here.
Thursday started off with a cancellation, Sam Fender had tonsillitis and couldn’t perform plus it was raining like crazy all day. The area was opened a few hours before the first act went on so people were able to build up their tents where the ground was still relatively dry.
The next day started grey but nearly dry to everyone’s relief. The ground turned into a mud field, but because the mud party happens every year the festival got nicknamed `Schlammgallen` which loosely translated means muddy Gallen. The food variety was quite big with acceptable vegan/veggie variety options but there was definitely still room for improvement and for the first time there was a supermarket, sponsored by ALDI, on the grounds that allowed campers to shop for food without breaking the bank – we are in Switzerland after all.
Many people had to get VIP tickets because regular admission was so quickly sold out. As a result, the VIP area became more crowded than the rest of the park. The view on the stage was great, and the food quality was excellent but the prices here were insanely high.
The main reason for us all to gather in the mud, however, was of course music and so here are some of my highlights from the weekend.
- Viagra Boys: Great start with a nice punk set; the lead singer smoked a joint on stage and drank beer throughout making it a rather entertaining set to watch. The crowd seemed to enjoy this as a good wake-up with a very relaxed feeling in the air despite the tent stage still being half under water which people didn’t mind at all [images below].
- Kontra K: This German rapper gathered a surprisingly big crowd [2 images above]. His performance was set against a beautiful background with horse statues and a stair-like stage illuminated by the finally arrived sun.
- Joy Crookes: Advertised as the “next Amy Winehouse,” Joy appeared calm and beautiful, a kind of performance everyone could just listen and enjoy. The audience seemed to love her, many danced and sang along, very peaceful and definitely one for the feels [image below].
- Annenmaykantereit: German sensation with much of the clout turned over the past few years with some viral tracks (also in combo with Giant Rooks due to a Tom`s Diner cover earlier this year). Everyone was here to witness this set and it was a great show with a mix of fast and slow songs, and some new tracks mixed in between the classics. All additional live instruments were played by women and there was a huge pride flag on the piano which was really great to see [2 images above].
- Giant Rooks: A five-piece band of very happy musicians. Their performance was enthusiastic and engaging; the lead singer ran close to the crowd a few times causing a bit of a riot. The pit was pretty full and everyone was singing along even though it was burning hot at this point [images below].
- Tones and I: Had a very creative stage design with an actual house built on it with a sign declaring it a “mad house.” In a typical manner Tones and I played new tracks and a few old songs to please the fans [image above].
- Juju: This German female rapper was a much-appreciated surprise with her engaging performance. Juju talked about feminism, released balloons into the audience, and consistently engaged with her huge fanbase; the tent was full to the brim!
- Muse: Much anticipated headliner of the event. The band had a great stage design with a burning sign and changed out into several different outfits and backgrounds. They even brought their own stage and walked down the `catwalk` a few times; great show showcasing all of the band’s classic songs that nearly everyone could sing along to [images above].
The last day was unusually hot and usually ends in the afternoon so only a few acts
- Years & Years: Solo project of British singer Olly Alexander who came on stage with a telephone cabin. Olly offered up a real pop star performance with loads of action, dancers, special effects, choreography, and other entertaining theatrics. Sadly many people had already gone for the day or were hiding in the shade escaping the heat.
- Milky Chance: The crowd was similar but it was a very fitting Sunday afternoon show. Folks were sitting in their chairs under umbrellas, taking in this feel-good comfort music, observing the band’s foggy performance [images above].
Openair St.Gallen was a great way to return to summer festivals and the crowd came here committed to enjoying every minute of every day, rain boots and jackets in hand everyone had an amazing time.