Crans-Montana
11 - 14 April

Every April, electronic music festival Caprices spills across the Swiss municipality of Crans-Montana with an unbridled vigour, and this year’s edition was no exception.

There are a few things you notice when you ascend into the Alps. The air is thinner, for example, and every drink hits you harder. It’s quieter too – every door hinge and footstep seems to carry for miles without the patina of white noise that blankets cityscapes: sirens, laughter, tires on pavement and stereos seem to trail off on the path into the mountains. But for one weekend each year in Switzerland, the hills are alive with the sound of techno.

Now in its 16th year, Caprices is a local staple that acts as a handover between the region’s most important seasons: ski season and golf season. Crans-Montana is nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps, where panoramic vistas and storied hiking paths abound. Accordingly, the festival takes full advantage of the region’s ample beauty. While the raves continued well into the morning at the festival’s basecamp, afternoon sessions kicked off in an airy greenhouse tent at the summit of the mountain. The energy was infectious for a day party in well-below-zero weather, but perhaps not unexpectedly: it’s hard not to smile as Sven Väth bathes a crowd in heavy, heavy basslines to soundtrack the setting sun.

The Moon – Caprices’ mainstage for the weekend – presented more stars than surprises. With A-list talent ranging from iconoclast Marcel Dettmann to 2018’s talk-of-the-town Peggy Gou, it offered a familiar atmosphere for big-room clubbers. The hall itself was massive, and while it took some time to build up the momentum as the crowd staggered in from the ski lifts, the energy was formidable from midnight through to the closing tracks.

Throughout the festival, however, the Satellite stage stole the show. Caprices attracts around 25,000 people over the course of the weekend, but while standing under the tent, the festival felt far cosier. Its programming brought the eclecticism of an underground rave, too – from Acid Pauli to a shared set which saw Mathew Jonson and Dandy Jack playing b2b, strains of UK funky, bluesy remixes and brighter beats broke through on occasion. The crowd was a bit more mature and geographically diverse than other festivals, but there was an unmistakable sense of belonging that the stage cultivated as night turned quickly back to day. Crans-Montana is, for all intents and purposes, a break from the city. The air is cleaner, the people are more friendly, and the views are more spectacular. But at Caprices, all bets are off – the idyllic mountainside retreat quickly fades into the backdrop of what is likely the most lively party the city sees each year. A word of the wise: pack an aspirin before heading out – if the altitude sickness doesn’t get you, the hangovers will.