Gampel Ends Summer On A High

A disappointing Swiss outdoor season ended on something of a high when Open Air Gampel attracted more than 20,000 per day to see a bill headed by Muse, The Prodigy, Seeed, Franz Ferdinand, and Jovanotti.

“It was more than we expected, particularly in light of the fact that so many events haven’t done that well,” said Derrick Thomson from Cult Concerts Agency, who books the bill with Marc Lambelet of Black Lamb Productions.

Apart from the perennial argument about the country having too many festivals for its size and population, this year brought other factors to blame, including huge shows from Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones and – maybe more significantly – the World Cup soccer finals.

Thomson said the football might have been something of a scapegoat, although he acknowledges that it put the boot into Philippe Cornu’s Gurtenfestival. He said he thinks the number – and the size – of the international touring acts sucked a lot of money out of the market.

“If people have gone to either Robbie Williams, The Stones or any of the big shows that have been here this summer, then it may well be that a lot of them have cut down and only gone to one festival instead of two,” he said.

While cynics might suggest that every fan would have to go to at least three or four events for the crowded Swiss outdoor market to succeed, Paleo Nyon and Frauenfeld (which happened during the middle of the soccer tournament) both did extremely good business.

For Paleo, which shifted all its 200,000-plus tickets in a week and has sold out for the last five years, it was no surprise that it bucked the trend, but Frauenfeld’s result stands out because it was more of a surprise.

Switzerland was playing on the first day, and there were four second-round matches on the last, but Andy Locher from Pleasure Productions reported that the mainly hip-hop festival’s figures were up a staggering 60 percent to nearly 25,000 per day.

Elsewhere, FKP Scorpio‘s Greenfield and Open Air St. Gallen – which also had last-minute headliner problems – suffered alongside Gurten.

Gampel didn’t match that, but in a year when there were only a few isolated successes, Thomson was more than happy to see the figures go up a handful of percentage points from 77,000 to 80,000.

Any Swiss festival that did better than last year is entitled to feel very satisfied.

Among the other acts helping to put a smile on Thomson’s face August 17-20 were The Aeroplanes, Nada Surf, Mando Diao, Millencolin, Danko Jones, Coheed and Cambria, and Pennywise.

– John Gammon