Between 10th and 14th April 2018 the beautiful Zermatt Unplugged Music Festival took place for the 11th time. That was this week, at least 1600 meters over sealevel, 90 concerts and aftershow parties on 14 different stages. Been there last year for the first time for an afternoon (read here), I was there for three of the five days this year. But I could have endured it the whole week.
Staying overnight in Zermatt
Finding a place to stay during the festival is not that easy. To the usual tourists all the festival participants (bands, helpers, crew, concert visitors) are there. Despite the fact that I already booked in December, my options were rather limited. So you should book early. I also had to apply for holidays as it took place during the week. But after the experience of last year as well as with Kodaline and The Souls in the programme, I had to go ;). And the programme was also very exciting in general.
For a small budget
So on Tuesday I went to Zermatt. I had booked a bed at the hotel Bahnhof. The shared room is equipped with modern wooden beds, in a kind of small bunks. Every guest had their own area with light, socket and practical storage. There were also small lockers in the room. With the whole camera equipment I slept so much better this way 😉
Small motion detecting lights were attached to the bed feet. So you saw enough when entering the room, but did not bother the others. Breakfast wasn’t included, but the hotel has a large kitchen, which can be used at will. The bakery, Coop and Migros are just around the corner. For everyone on a smaller budget, the hotel is really recommended.
With love in details
At the weekend I checked in at Bella Vista. A small, cozy hotel on a slope overlooking the Matterhorn (well, through the trees) – if it showed. The Queen of the Mountains was pretty stubbornly hidden when I was there. A little mean. But the hotel was very comfortable, the welcome was warm and the staff was super friendly. The bed was totally comfortable and the breakfast buffet the next day not only looked great, with home-made rolls and a large selection it tasted very good. There was so much love in the detail.
Opening day: Favourite place Taste Village
I started the first day of the festival in the Taste Village, a small food village in the center of Zermatt. The weather was unfortunately the complete opposite of last year: it was cold, wet and it even snowed. At least when I was there (pff …). But nobody can spoil the fun, right ?! – Ok, at least not as long as you are dressed warm enough. 😉
After a few days and various locations, the Taste Village is still my favorite place at Zermatt Unplugged. It is super nicely arranged, the small stage surrounded by so many different food stalls. Every stall, every little barrack was equipped and decorated with so many beautiful details. If it’s clear, you have a direct view of the Matterhorn. On the one hand, admission is included in the ticket for the main concerts. On the other hand, you can also buy an unplugged passport separately.
Specialities and other goodies
I had a “Gommer Cholera”. This is a Valais vegetable cake, which I discovered last year and is so super delicious. You also can have pizza, tarte flambée, bagels, pulled pork burger, french fries and for dessert sweets like brownies and mini cupcakes (chocolate with raspberries, yum!). The selection is great.
A highlight in terms of food was also this year in the middle of the Taste Village: At the fireplace of Schweizer Fleisch you can sit down to the fire with a stick and fry your own cervelat. The fireplace was very popular and well visited. The fireplace is also good, to find rest from going stage to stage and just sit for a moment. Or warming up in the cold 😉
A versatile music programme
In addition to already well-known bands and musicians, this year many of them were unknown to me.
Veronica Fusaro all alone on stage
My first festival day started musically with Veronica Fusaro. The Thun musician impressed the audience with her solo performance at the Taste Village that afternoon. All alone on stage, that needs courage after all.
With her new EP she is again often touring with the band, but not at this festival. Her latest mini-album “Ice Cold” released in February includes songs like the catchy tune “Better If I Go”, which is regularly played on the radios. You can also find “Off You”, “Goddamn”, “I Still” and “Never Getting Down”.
Veronica played her songs on acoustic guitar with the support of a loop station. Of course, some older songs were also on the setlist.
A personal highlight is her version of “Wayfairing Stranger”, which she only sings with the help of the loop station. I know it from Ed Sheeran, but love it by her too. It was once again a nice performance and a cozy start to the festival days.
The Souls conjured up the sun
After a short changeover, it continued with another Thun band, with The Souls. That they do not need much to bring out their songs with their great voices and wonderful harmonies, they had often proven. In the meantime, the weather had gotten even better and in some cases you could discover the one or other blue hole in the sky. As a result, the Taste Village filled even more and the audience gathered numerously for the band in front of the stage.
Despite the cold and wet weather, there was such a wonderful atmosphere at Taste Village. And at least the heart became so warm. The Souls rocked their unplugged set with “Live” and “Something Good”. And while they thrilled with songs like “Silverrain”, “Fighting in the moonlight”, “Stay” as well as the full acoustic version of “Tandem”, sometime the sun showed up.
Their club tour, which will continue to feature their album “Close My Eyes”, will end with a sold-out concert weekend at Mokka Thun, before returning to the festival season. They will also play a special unplugged concert at one of the two shows. Besides a few festival shows, these are the last few concerts of the “Close My Eyes” era.
Kodaline after tour postponement back in Switzerland
Immediately after the concert of the Souls I went on to the tent. How disappointed I was when Irish band Kodaline postponed their entire European tour and canceled the Swiss concert last fall. All the more pleasing was that they performed at the Zermatt Unplugged that evening. One of the main reasons to go to the Zermatt Unplugged during the week. Unfortunately, the Kodaline concert was clashing with the concert of their fellow countrymen, the Dublin duo Hudson Taylor at the Vernissage. Has anyone seen it? Kodaline was just priority for me.
The review about Kodaline at Zermatt Unplugged can be found HERE.
Girls night out with Sarah Connor
After Kodaline, Sarah Connor performed at The Alex. I was a bit worried that the concerts would clash and that it would not work out to see her. Being in Zermatt that evening, I wanted to see her live. How the “girl’s night out” with Sarah Connor was, you read in the review HERE.
Blue Lounge: With The Souls on the mountain
The next day needed an incredible amount of overcoming. I wondered if I should really take part in the second Zermatt concert of the Souls. The Blue Lounge is at the top of the Blauherd mountain railway station – at over 2600 meters above sea level. In order to get there, you drive only with the super steep (!) cog railway and then change at the Suneggä station to the 8-seats gondola. With my fear of heights really nothing for me. I thought the ride on Ride On Music was bad enough. But somehow I could overcome it and actually made it up there. After all I can not miss The Souls concert when I’m there … 😉
When the weather is good you usually have the most beautiful view and most amazing view of the Matterhorn up there at the Blauherd mountain railway station. Of course, the weather got worse. The Matterhorn hid and The Souls had to play inside.
The small mountain restaurant offered space for a concert in a small, intimate setting and was then rather crowded. From the feeling the concert had been better the day before all in all. But it was comfortable. This Wednesday somehow felt like Sunday.
By the way, the still unreleased song, with which they start their set, is still nameless. 😉 It was followed by the setlist of the previous day. A highlight was when the whole band queezed through the audience for the acoustic version of “Tandem” , behind the bar and played the song right in the middle of it. At some point you could hear the clinking of glass – but what exactly happened there, I could not make out from my spot 😉
Around 3 pm it was said we had to get down. Otherwise, the danger threatened that we would not get down from the mountains at all. Well, luckily I was in good company and distracted on the way back. The ride was fortunately then not quite as bad and shaken as it was prophesied. 😉 So, if you’re not scared of heights like me, then dare to go up there. It is a beautiful location.
Hip Hop from Basel
Before I went home again, La Nefera was just on stage of Taste Village, who I had seen for the first time at the Swiss Live Talents. Born in the Dominican republic and raised in Basel, the rapper showed a lot of energy on stage with her Spanish rap. However, I realized that somehow this dark hip-hop is not really mine.
Return on the last festival day
On the last day of the festival, on Saturday, I was just in my hotel room listening to music from the Taste Village, which I immediately liked and I absolutely wanted to check out.
Indie-Folk from Winterthur
It was the Winterthur indie folk band Prince Jelleh that I had heard from afar. I just heard the last few songs from the six-memebers band. I liked the beautiful melodies and the harmonious singing so well, so I took the two EPs with me.
The most recent, Antarctica, they released last November. It’s definitely worth to keep follow the band.
When the antihero becomes a hero
When checking out bands to plan my Zermatt Unplugged programme, I had previously come across the Stuttgart band Antiheld. In addition, also the organizer told that the day before Antiheld had totally thrilled the audience. So we went to the terrace of the Hotel Cervo. And I can say: Antiheld is THE discovery I made at Zermatt Unplugged. Why that is so and how their self-proclaimed “Street dog pop” sounds, you read in the review HERE.
Rock anthems by Tim Freitag
Back at Taste Village, Tim Freitag was setting up. They are one of the bands that I know through other bands. I’ve read a lot about them since Severin Graf, bassist with James Gruntz and Kunz, and keyboarder Daniel Gisler, to most well known from Hecht, are part of the band. That means, Gisi was just on tour with Hecht and therefore not there.
Tim Freitag quickly caught the attention of the initially reserved audience. With powerful, thoroughly danceable rock songs and melancholic vocals the band around frontman Janick Pfenniger enthused. Besides playing songs like “In My Mind” and the current single “Hold On”, “Bruises” became my personal favorite right away. That could definitely serve as a stadium anthem. There is also a certain rock star attitude. The frontman stood in spite of the cool temperatures suddenly only in the undershirt on the stage and was sometimes from the drums 😉
Lianne La Havas came for Jessie J
Actually, the British singer Jessie J should have performed on the tent stage this evening. But she had once again canceled another Swiss concert, or it was postponed to next year. The to me unknown Lianne La Havas, with the incredible voice, came as her replacement. It was not easy for her. Why, you read HERE.
Beautiful final with Mighty Oaks
The last concert at Zermatt Unplugged 2018 was played by Mighty Oaks at The Alex. With an extra for the festival unplugged arranged set, the Berlin-based band made for a great final. But just read HERE.
Taken home many great impressions
The Zermatt Unplugged is a really great and versatile festival. The music festival in the middle of the Valais mountains scores with super nice concert venues and locations. You can experience world stars in an intimate setting with partly exclusive unplugged sets, but also discover many newcomers. Whether with or without sunshine and blue skies, the atmosphere is relaxed and jolly. Isolated from everyday life, I was definitely in another world and have really enjoyed the days.
Nice to hear Kodaline live again. Concerts by The Souls are somehow always small adventures and take you to the most incredible places. And I totally celebrated Antiheld. I drove home with many impressions and lasting memories.
In addition, on Sunday even the Matterhorn has showed up 😉
The next Zermatt Unplugged takes place from 9 – 13 April 2019. As I said, accommodation is best booked early.
You can find information about the festival and artists here: