Andrea Bignasca’s Fave 5 Live Music Venues in Switzerland
The club owner in Ilanz, Switzerland, looked glumly around her venue.
“The kids, all they want to hear is Andrea Bignasca” she explained to her Canadian visitors, with a sweeping hand indicating the lack of attendance for a foreign touring band. Little known outside of his native Switzerland, the last two years has seen Bignasca’s stature grow in his home country through ceaseless gigging and a remarkable sophomore album in 2018’s Murder.
Born in a small town just outside of Lugano, the singer-songwriter paid his dues early on with a series of well-received solo shows where he kept time with a small bass drum while strumming a guitar. His tenacity paid off with appearances at a number of popular festivals, including Montreux, as well as opening slots for such stylistically varied artists as Larry Carlton, Morcheeba, and Phil Campbell of Motorhead. Bignasca shifted to a more sweeping heartland rock sound with Murder, mixing it slightly with his early folk leanings on his third offering, Keep Me From Drowning, released in late March of 2021.
Now living with his partner in Lisbon, Portugal, Bignasca continues to make the trek back to Switzerland for his career. He’ll be back out on the road when things settle down, though Bignasca worries about the economic aftereffects of the pandemic on the Swiss venues that have sustained him. Here’s five of Bignasca’s most cherished Swiss clubs, along with a favourite German venue as a bonus:
Mühle Hunziken (Rubigen)
“You really have to see pictures of Mühle Hunziken to understand how amazing it is. It’s this legendary place that’s been there forever. The building is all made of wood in an octagonal shape, and it’s three stories, so you have people all around you, almost like the Globe Theatre in London. It’s filled with thousands of things, like a life-sized Bart Simpson and a tractor in the hallway. I played there in the summer of 2020, one of the only gigs that year. People were thirsty for rock and roll, so it was an amazing evening.”
The Royal (Baden)
“I love how the stage at The Royal is set up. It’s wide and big and they have beautiful low voltage lamps hanging from the ceiling. It’s in the canton of Aargau, where I tend to play a lot, sort of midway between Bern and Zurich. I love that area. Zurich is where the cool people are and there’s so much stuff happening, while Bern is the cultural area. In Baden they’re grateful that you’ve come to their little town, which makes for the best concerts.”
“My mom was from Schaffhausen, and my grandpa and my mom’s twin sister still live there. I went there on holidays as a kid, and Schaffhausen is definitely a home away from home. Usually when I’m there I play Kammgarn, this fantastic club in town which tends to be on the bigger side from what I’m used to. I’m hoping that it also becomes my musical home away from home because I love it there.”
“A truly legendary club is Kofmehl, which holds something like 600 or 700 people in the larger room, but also has a smaller room as well. I have a special relationship with Kofmehl because they let me open for Phil Campbell from Motorhead, and Everlast. I remember the gig with Everlast; people didn’t know who I was, and it was packed. I was playing solo with just my kick drum and guitar and there was a tension at the beginning of the gig. After the first song I could feel the audience shift, and people from that area always talk to me about that gig whenever I play there. On the last show of the Murder tour (2018) I was supposed to play the small room, but we sold so many tickets they had to switch it upstairs, which was exciting.”
“Another club like Kofmehl is Schüür. It’s this tiny, underground place with a much larger upstairs area for bigger shows. It used to be an old granary or something like that, so there are all of these old wooden beams around you. It’s so beautiful, and Lucerne is such a warm city.”
Bonus German club:
Altes Spital (Viechtach)
“I love that venue so much. Altes Spital is an 800-year-old building in the middle of nowhere; the nearest big city is Munich, which is something like 2 hours away. The building is ancient, it was a church and then a hospital. Now it’s this incredible place to play music. You perform for donations and it works out really well, much more than many other clubs. When I was just starting out, I played there on a tour where my dad was the roadie and driver, and I sold out even though nobody knew who I was. It’s a magical place.”