Astorian get into the zone during the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 6, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
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.
Tar Queen lay down some psych vibes at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 5, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Self-proclaimed stoner rock band Tar Queen opened a free show at the Montreux Jazz Festival’s Rock Cave last week with the rolling psychedelic number “Roger Mojo.”
The song is a new single in 2016 from the quartet, hailing from Freiburg, Switzerland, and it marks an exciting evolution in the band’s sound since the release of their last album — 2013’s Continuum. I didn’t know any of this before walking into the Montreux Jazz Festival of course, but it was a terrific experience to pick up on new discoveries like Tar Queen at the renowned festival, particularly Swiss bands like these gents that deserve a wider audience.
Deep Purple perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival’s Stravinksy Auditorium in 2013. (Photo by Lionel Flusin)
What is the Montreux Jazz Festival exactly?
If you’re like me, you’ve occasionally seen or heard live performances from the festival on video or CD — and you have the impression it’s a far-flung gathering of musicians socializing over jazz in some elite location in Switzerland.
Well, now I’m here, and the first thing that I can report is that it’s not just a jazz festival — it’s dedicated to all kinds of music ranging from rock to soul to EDM. It’s also not necessarily all that elite. Take for example this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival 50, which hosts an incredibly robust free program over its two-week stretch in this month of July. You could attend from 2pm to 5am many days and see many performances and then dance until you drop for free admission.