Sol Veritas Lux festival

La Sarraz, Switzerland | 21 July 2001
with Ostara, Forseti, Les Joyaux de la Princesse, Camerata Mediolanense.

It was on a Tuesday, the 17th of July 2001 to be precise, that we left Utrecht by train, heading for Mannheim, which would be the first target of our journey. Travelling by train through Germany is always a pleasure, especially when you’re past Bonn, when you move along the river Rhine, where you see an impressive castle on the woody hills every five minutes. Since we found the travelling time between Utrecht and Switzerland too long to do in one day, we decided to spend a day in Mannheim. This was not one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever visited, the main attraction was a nice Wasserturm, but walking along the river Neckar with its many swans was very pleasant. We couldn’t find a trace of interesting nightlife, so we decided to watch a movie. Since we didn’t want to see a dubbed foreign movie, we searched for a German film, which we found in an extremely small private cinema. ‘Die Innere Sicherheit’ started about one hour too late, but that turned out to be the only negative point of the movie.

The next day we continued our journey, travelling to Lausanne, a prosperous city situated near the lake of Geneva and former Olympic capital. We stayed there for two days, finding it not too hard to amuse ourselves there. In the city itself there are some nice buildings to admire, like the great cathedral, from which you have an impressive view over the city and the lake… Strolling for hours along the lake of Geneva is also very pleasurable, giving you a real holiday feeling.

After this foreplay we finally went to La Sarraz, where the reason for our journey would take place: the Sol Veritas Lux festival, with some of my favourite bands: Ostara, Forseti, Les Joyaux de la Princesse and Camerata Mediolanense. When we arrived at the small station, it soon became clear that La Sarraz is a really small village. In fact, the village consists of one real street, la Grande Rue, where of course our hotel was situated. Because we arrived on Friday, early afternoon, and the festival would take place on Saturday evening, we had plenty of time to explore the village and its environment. When walking in the hills we were impressed by the large fields with sunflowers. Of course we also too a look a the castle of Sarraz where the festival should take place.

The next day we made a small excursion by train to Vallorbe, where a large fort of WWII could be visited. And indeed, when we arrived in the town we saw signs, leading us in the right direction. But nowhere the distance to the fort was mentioned, and after a while the signs stopped appearing. But courageously we continued, once in a while we came across a smaller bunker on our way, and when we saw a tank we were relieved that we were heading in the right direction. Finally, after a more than 2,5 hours walk, we reached the fort, that was constructed between 1937 and 1941, despite Switzerland being neutral in the war. The fort lay high in the hills, the view was splendid from there. First we had to force our way past some military obstacles, then we reached the entrance. From the outside the fort didn’t seem very impressive, but once inside, walking behind the guide, we were surprised a lot by the vastness, you could wander there for hours, and it seemed as if the fort could be taken into use again any minute.

Back in La Sarraz we had just enough time for a quick meal, before we went to the castle for the festival. Outside the crowd had already gathered, one heard speaking in German, French, Italian and other languages. After showing the entrance card and entering the terrain everyone rushed to the cellars, where the bar was and the stalls packed with (very limited) records, books and other parafernalia. Then it was time for the concerts, that took place in a small building next to the castle. Opening act was Ostara, who were in a good shape, performing both new and older songs and tracks from their Strength trough Joy past. Songs like Operation Valkyrie and The Reckoning sounded better than ever. The tone was set, it was clear that this would become a special evening.

Next group was Forseti, with a large line-up consisting of no less than seven musicians, performing varied neo-folk songs. The band around Andreas Ritter created a nice nostalgic atmosphere full of German tradition, playing the wonderful songs of their ‘Jenzig’ album, various songs that appeared on compilations and a few new tracks. The use of accordion, guitars, flute, drums and trumpet gave Forseti a very rich sound.

Then it was time for Les Joyaux de la Princesse, a legendary act that I hadn’t seen before. This French act revived the atmosphere of Paris in the late 30’s, with old records, film footage, samples, banners and pamphlets. Les Joyaux started with some soundscape like pieces, followed by a few tracks with martial drumming.

After a while two people came suddenly to the stage: Albin Julius and Martinya, with a surprise performance by Der Blutharsch. Unfortunately there were technical problems, so you could hardly hear their singing. After three tracks came a forced pause, after which the suprise act was ended with one last fierce piece. The Albin joined Les Joyaux, doing some wonderful tracks from the Ostenbraun and Die Weisse Rose albums.

It was already late at night when Camerata Mediolanense had the honour to play as the final act. This Italian formation again proved to be an excellent live formation, with a lot of atmosphere and excellent singing by Daniela and Trevor. Highlights were the two tracks of the L’Alfiere 10″, the ‘hits’ Il Trionfo… and Balcani in Fiamme and the lovely encore Lili Marleen…

After such an overdose of great music it was hard to get into the right mood for the dancenight afterwards. Although the music was fine it took some time before people started dancing… We stayed for some time untill we were completely satisfied and left the castle of La Sarraz…

The following morning was tough, because our train left early. Alternating between sleeping and listening to our new musical purchases we reached Germany, where we made a stop early in the evening in Koblenz. The next day we had some time to discover this nice old city, with a few lovely churches and some other nice buildings in the centre.

Unfortunately the fort on the hill behind the station was not open to the public, so we walked a bit further. Suddenly we entered a beautiful situated graveyard. We spent our last hour in Koblenz there, before we had to go to the station. After a quick meal we finished the final part of our journey and reached home again, after a nice week full of memorable impressions.