While I didn’t get to go to the Montreux Jazz Festival this year and I’ll miss out on the Fêtes de Genève too (a small price to pay to come home and see my family), I did have the opportunity to visit Montreux back in early June for the Sundance Music Festival.
I refer to Montreux as “Switzerland’s Music City” for various reasons: for one, and as mentioned above, Montreux hosts one of the world’s largest and most renowned jazz festivals since 1967 (2nd largest actually, after the Montreal International Jazz Festival in Canada). It started as a three-day event and now spans the duration of two weeks, always at the beginning of July. This year they began live streaming some of the performances, so if you can’t make it there next summer, at least you can join in virtually.
Second, and much to my surprise, Queen’s final album featuring Freddie Mercury (Made in Heaven) was recorded in Montreux, where the band’s studio was located at the time. It has since been moved to Attalens, Switzerland. The Made in Heaven album cover features the Freddie Mercury statue that overlooks Montreux’s side of Lake Geneva. The statue was unveiled in 1996 and in 2003, fans started gathering annually in Montreux to celebrate “Freddie Mercury Montreux Memorial Day” on the first weekend of September.
Montreux is a beautiful, lakeside city and a great venue for all things musical. I’m so happy we got to enjoy a little bit of it.
Leading Up to Sundance
I learned about the Sundance Music Festival when I went on the website for a famous club in Lausanne, MAD (We still haven’t been there so it’s on my list!). After seeing the line-up for the various concerts (with headliners like David Guetta, Hardwell, Steve Aoki and Tiësto) I immediately told my friend Ameer about it, who was then living in Santiago de Compostela. I visited him there sometime in November of last year (more on that later!) and I made him promise to come visit me in Geneva. He was as ecstatic as I was about it, and we made a deal that he would come out for the weekend of the Tiësto concert.
The Weekend of the Festival
Ameer arrived a few days before the concert and I made sure to do all of the touristy things with him in Geneva.
The day before the concert, F picked up the car we rented to go to Montreux, since the cost of the car plus gas would be less than train tickets to and back; the day of, we drove out in the evening, arriving in Montreux just before sunset. We enjoyed a lakeside dinner and walked up the boardwalk as the sun was setting, all the way to the where the Freddie Mercury statue stands. Then we made our way back just in time for the start of the concert.
A few DJs, some local and some not, opened up for Tiësto and were playing when we arrived. By far, my favorite was Lady NooN who is actually from Montreux herself. Her musical style brought me back to the few college weekend nights I spent out at Chicago’s Freakeasy events with good friends – the deep but very playful house music. Here’s one of her songs, right off of her SoundCloud profile.
Tiësto was amazing, as always, and after watching him and an act or two that followed we drove back to Geneva, tired but satisfied. I look forward to future trips to Montreux, whether it’s for the jazz festival or not. You should check it out, too!