The band stepped out of the darkness and whipped up a dazzling instrumental intro as the audience closed in on the stage.
After the intro by Astorian, frontwoman Alexandra Schmidt appeared and sang lushly of self-respect in a song titled “Giving Yourself Away,” from the band’s debut EP, Night Flight, which was released in April.
The excitement among a throng of young women pushing toward the stage is palpable. To them, Alexandra clearly has something to say; she is certainly a heroine to this crowd. And her lucid, cautionary words and her bandmates’ jaunty music certainly smack of The Cure, whom Astorian cite as an influence.
Playing a free show at the Rock Cave during the Montreux Jazz Festival 50 in Montreux, Switzerland, on July 6, Astorian drew a devoted crowd that certainly knew who they were. Alexandra was joined by Astorian band members Olivier Bruchez (guitar), Luis Alameda (bass), and Pascal Evard (drums) as well as an unidentified keyboardist, who may not yet be a permanent part of the outfit. Together, the quintet turned out a soaring, pleasing set of post-punk/new wave songs, including all six songs from the debut EP.
Listen to the Night Flight EP by Astorian via Bandcamp:
[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=828056239 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]
Occasionally, Alexandra’s voice evokes the bluesiness of Alison Moyet (of Yazoo) or the dreaminess of the late Trish Keenan (of Broadcast). It lends itself well in performance to Astorian songs like “Waiting for You,” an ode to searching for love, and “Shed New Light,” a new wave thumper that starts out minimally but then flourishes into a fully realized sparkler.
As you can see in our pictures of the show, Astorian also understand the importance of performance! From the elegant poise of Alexandra to the punk-rock readiness of drummer Pascal (perhaps Astorian’s second-most important player), Astorian definitely look and feel the part of slick but weary post-punk warriors. I would say, kindly, however that the unidentified keyboardist at the show could bring up his performance game a little bit. He seemed like a perfectly good chap, but drinking beer and pacing around when you don’t have anything to do on stage doesn’t lend itself to the best in showmanship. And synths are important here! You’ve gotta look like you’re focused even when you don’t have anything to do, my friend.
Astorian are evidence of the diverse and engaging programming available in the free part of the Montreux Jazz Festival, which continues through Saturday, July 16. (Read more about it from our blog last week.) Although Astorian don’t appear to have more dates announced at present, they have hinted at some upcoming dates in the United Kingdom, where I think they will find some receptive new admirers! All in all, I expect great things to come from Astorian, who clearly are creating some buzz in and around their hometown of Luasanne, Switzerland.
Update: As you can see in the comments below, Luis provided us with Astorian’s current touring schedule (note dates in European format to our American readers):
Next Astorian dates:
19.08: Openair salavaux Plage, à Salavaux
02.09: Vernissage exposition Strange, galérie Black and White à Lutry
10.09 : Zikamart Festival à Fully
07.10 : La Foire du Valais, à Martigny
Here are some pictures of Astorian from their show at the Rock Cave at the Montreux Music Festival on July 6, 2016.