Neuchatel Opens With A Record

Neuchatel Openair Festival marked the opening of the Swiss festival season by selling all 10,000 tickets for a May 31 bill that included The Streets, Feist and Stephan Eicher, the first time the 8-year-old event has put up the "sold out" signs.

Although Neuchatel has grown steadily, and moved up to three days since moving to National Expo site five years ago, festival booker Yoann Montandon believes a bolder booking policy has seen it move to the verge of being able to sell 10,000 each day.

The event didn’t regularly book international acts until 2006, but has made up for it since by putting on Iggy and the Stooges, The Prodigy, Gotan Project, Asian Dub Foundation, De La Soul, Gentleman & The Far East Band and Burning Spear.

The average three-day crowd has doubled to about 20,000 since the festival moved on to The Expo grounds, the 1.6 billion Swiss francs (US$1.53 billion) site that was designed for the 2002 Swiss National Exhibition. But that was easily topped by the 24,000-plus that turned up between May 30 and June 1 for this year’s festival.

The Verve added its name to the list of international acts to have visited Neuchatel, while other artists on the bill included The Young Gods, Simian Mobile Disco, Goran Bregovic, Rahzel and Boyz Noize.

This year’s festival was the first to have a stage dedicated to emerging Swiss talent, which featured the appropriately named The Watchmaking Metropolis Orchestra, Taffa, The Passengers, Monkeys 3, Florence Chitacumbi, Kera and The Licks.

The following weekend (June 5-8) rain didn’t stop the 6,500 capacity Caribana Festival at Crans-pres-Celigny coming close to a capacity crowd for a lineup that featured Alanis Morissette, Maroon 5, Simple Plan, The Young Gods, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Keziah Jones, Kate Nash, and Infadels.