Zurich Openair 2016 was a great experience and lots of fun for everyone who attended; even though the setup was terrible. The lineup included bands such as Chvrches, The Last Shadow Puppets, M83, Amy Macdonald and many more. Openair has stepped up their game in terms of scheduling their bands, but when one act finishes, you have to sprint to the next stage to watch the next show. However, the improved scheduling was about the only thing that ZOA improved this year and almost everything else seems like it was falling apart.
Everyone who attended ZOA2015 wore obscene amounts of glitter and hairspray, following the theme from the posters which depicted people sporting galaxy glitter on their faces whilst looking longingly into the distance. This year, not only was the theme of the festival completely unclear – the posters did not help, as they displayed a variety of zebras, triangles and jumping women. In 2015 there was an amusement tent teeming with people in line for their glitter face paint or custom water tattoos, while this year I was disappointed to find a sad empty tent with a few stalls selling socks and drawstring bags. Eventually, along with the rest of the attendees, we worked out the theme of the festival: black and white. Quite possibly the worst theme for a music festival, where you want colourful stands full of atmosphere. The only things representing this theme was a tent which you had to look at for a long time before you could realise it was black and white. Although the point of the festival was to enjoy the music, and while the sadness of the amusement tent and lack of glitter face paint are small complaints, they do bring down the overall atmosphere of the festival. Furthermore, the lack of a ZOA app this year was another small let down, as my friends and I were frantically checking the app store days before the event. Last year’s app was complete with notifications for when your favourite band is about to play. Instead, this year there were paper timetables handed out on trams, at the festival itself and were posted on the ZOA website, but it was pretty annoying to be constantly taking out the pieces of paper and losing them or googling “Zurich Openair” fifty times a minute just to workout who was coming next.
Nevertheless, apart from all my complaints regarding the setup of the festival, this year’s line up, was one of the best yet. It is a shame that the majority of the good acts played on Wednesday, the first day of the festival when most people can’t attend due to work or school. Wednesday included acts such as Chvrches, The Last Shadow Puppets, The Neighbourhood, M83 and Die Antwoord. Zurich Openair tends to put their best acts on the earlier days as the dates for the festival are close to that of Reading Festival in London. Good bands tend to stop off in Zurich before attending the real deal. I can say that despite lack of sleep and being delirious the next day at school was well worth it to see these acts live.
Acts that stood out include Chvrches, M83, Amy Macdonald, The strumbellas and Bloc Party. It was a surprise that Amy Macdonald made it to my top list, considering that I went in not expecting much. However, her music gave me blasts of nostalgia to family road trips and her CD playing on repeat. Her set up was very minimalist and honest with a red curtain, her guitar, two side men, and a drummer. Macdonald managed to get the audience really into her songs by telling us when to sing along, and playing one of her new, unreleased songs for a future album. Chvrches, one of my favourite bands, were incredible and had a snazzy light show of lasers to go with their amazing music, however it must be said that they took themselves a bit too seriously and were trying slightly too hard to be cool. M83, who I was not overly familiar with before their concert blew the audience away with their light show. As a band they all seemed really into it and made sure to give us a good show. The Strumbellas are also a band who I had never heard of before seeing them. A friend insisted that we go see them as she was familiar with one of their songs. Their music was very lively and inclusive, the audience went mad for a certain band member called Dave, the keyboardist, who was wearing a hat with his name stitched on it and a goofy smile on his face. The audience chanted his name while he karate kicked the air. The Strumbellas’ set was awesome and fun, although I would not necessarily put their music on my playlist. They were pleasant to listen to and the audience had a blast. Bloc Party were quite a change from the Strumbellas and were incredible. Having loved their music for many years Bloc Party were a must see for me and they did not disappoint. The crowd went wild when Kele Okereke came on stage and asked if we were having a good time. Soon enough a dance circle was sectioned off where people would jump in and go mental, this eventually turned into a mosh pit. Bloc Party also had an amazing Light show which complemented their music perfectly.
In conclusion Zurich Openair 2016 included an incredible lineup however disappointed with their lazy setup and lack of organization. However I still had a great time as I’m sure many other attendees did and I will definitely come back next year.
Kasia Donnell (’19)