Prudent St. Gallen Sells Out

International booker Christof Huber’s strategy of staying out of auctions for top talent and spreading the budget across the bill paid off as the 30,000-capacity St. Gallen festival in Switzerland sold out a few days before it started.

"The fees are going up again at the top end of the market," Huber told Pollstar. His falling out of love with big headliners could also have something to do with the fact that Guns N’ Roses pulled out of last year’s festival at the last minute to play a rescheduled Zurich date.

The festival dropped 12,000 short of its 90,000 three-day gross capacity sellout, although Huber felt the World Cup soccer and an unusually crowded Swiss festival season were also to blame.

The only other time St. Gallen hasn’t sold out in the last seven years was in 2004, when clashing with the Zurich city fair – which happens every four years. It’s a problem it will face again in 2008.

Apart from getting a wider range of quality rather than spending a lot on a big name, although it worked when R.E.M. headlined the 2005 sellout, Huber said the festival invested even more in sound quality in a bid to maximise the audience’s enjoyment.

"It was crystal clear at the front and all the way to the hill at the back of the main stage arena," Huber said.

Among the acts sounding good at Zurich’s Open Air St. Gallen June 29 to July 1 were Arcade Fire, Placebo, Snow Patrol, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Beatsteaks, Maximo Park, Wir Sind Helden and Bloc Party.