Montreux is beautiful, there’s no doubt. But last year when I was there for the Sundance Music Festival it felt quieter and cooler (same time of the year but definitely light sweater weather). It seems that a much bigger crowd comes out for the annual jazz festival; I like that buzz in the air. That coupled with the warm weather and the little food kiosks that line the coastline made it so reminiscent of the French Riviera or Miami’s Ocean Drive. Oh yeah, and paella in Switzerland? Not as easy to find as you would think but there it was at our fingertips.
Two coworker-friends and I made our way there by train, popping a bottle of white wine on the way, coupling it with a pack of fresh cherries. We got there with just enough time to eat and get our affairs in order (ATM, bathroom, etc.) before heading inside the Jazz Lab, our modest venue. Buraka Som Sistema was up first and they got a pretty limp crowd to get low, jump up and even to encostar na parede. The crowd went while when they performed their classic song, Kalemba (Wegue Wegue), a great example of what can happen when you mix African zouk and kuduro styles with techno beats of the moombahton variety, bordering on Latin reggaeton.
Die Antwoord (“The Answer” in Afrikaans) was headlining that night – the freakiest band that ever was! I was all pumped after Buraka’s performance and more so when Die Antwoord began their performance with Fatty Boom Boom but then I found myself slipping into a spine-chilling trance towards the end; they ended the night with the Enter the Ninja. All throughout the performance scary hooded dancers pranced around, phallic cartoon-like images flashed on the screen behind the stage and Ninja even made his way deep into the crowd on an epic crowd-surf – total madness! And yes, Yolandi’s voice is actually that high-pitched.
Why did they only play for one hour each though?! The Montreux Jazz Festival is not a good-value-for-your-money kind of festival but it was buckets of fun.