Festivals: Sziget Global Town (Part 1)

The 19th edition of Sziget started on Monday 8th of August with Day -1 and lasted exactly one week until Sunday 15th… or even longer, as for some of the fans the party already started on the way there.

Since 1993 the Sziget Festival has been the symbol of wild entertainment. It is an unforgettable cultural excursion, a week in August when there is no difference between night and day, thanks to the 200 daily events in 60 venues on the “Hajogyari” island of Obuda, offers a lot more than just big stages. You can find small venues amongst the trees that are maybe less high profile, but surely very exciting and provide the real spice of the festival. Except music acts, many Sziget venues are hosting other art forms, such as circus, theater, painting, etc.

So, with a total audience of 385 000 (meaning 77 000 fans daily on the main festival days), representing 61 countries, Sziget has a strong reason to claim the title ‘global village’… or even ‘global town’,  judging by the massive size of the venue and the number of inhabitants.

Day -1

I arrived at Sziget really early in the morning of Monday, Day -1 of the festival, but already a lot of people were waiting the doors to opened, since the organizers didn’t let anyone of the regular guest to enter, before 10am.

After I found a good place to camp, I took a walk, in order to get familiar with the place. I really liked the fact that the camping area was inside the festival area, so I could go to my tent any time I want.

This year they introduced the Metapay Festivalcard as the exclusive way of payment at Sziget. I confess that was quite fast and safe payment, no big queues and no bad surprises. You could also try the Budapest-related services of the newly introduced Sziget-Budapest Citypass, including free public transport, spa and beach entrance, boat services and a lot more.

At night, around 20:30, was held the first music act at Pop-Rock Main Stage of Sziget.

Gesztivál named and was an act from various famous Hungarian artists. Well, don’t ask much… to be honest, I preferred to take a walk in the magnificent city of Budapest.

Day 0

Maybe the most exciting and unique performer of them all, a 7-time Grammy winner and a true American pop, Prince, ruled the main stage of Sziget Festival on Day 0 (9 August) and played the biggest hits of his long and unstoppable career.

His  concert was with a professional attitude, featuring all big hits and lasting two and a half hours: that’s the way to handle the tens of thousands of fans at Sziget Festival’s Main Stage. “All you get be older, but I will be the same”, he said…  Sad, but true.

 In this point, I have to say that I am not a big fan of funky music and certainly of Prince. I was very skeptical about his gig, but fortunately for me I attended there, so Jeremy Irons did.

The same time, the multi awarded at Guca Trumpet Festival band from Serbia, Boran Markovic Orkestra & Lenigrad from Russia performed at the Rock-Metal Main Stage of Sziget.

Day 1

Sunny-windy weather, indie, wedding-punk, agitprop-punk, cold elegance and Paul… Paul… Interpol!

Brighton-based The Maccabees was the one to open the program of the Main Stage, a few minutes after 3 pm. Although the band was a bit shy in the beginning, the growing audience convinced them. The indie-guys are just working on their third album, so they gave us a taste of their new album – they played quite a few songs off it, actually! We could hear six brand new songs, and of course old ones like First Love. Orlando Weeks has not left his sweater home, and he managed to shake up the awakening audience even with this overwhelmingly emotional.

People were dancing up to the catering units in front of the stage, under Flogging Molly’s Irish folk punk sounds. All this at half past four, with the sun still high up and shining beautifully.

Animal rights, environmental consciousness, globalization and political activism, however Rise Against is not just a band consisting of agitators, but they are also great musicians and songwriters who are able to transform heavy content into a-one-and-a-half-hour-long singing-together, waving flags to one giant HC-hit song, from the beginning to the Endgame-album of today. “Sziget Festival was so much fun. Thank you Budapest! See you next time” – the band said on their Twitter-profile a few minutes after their concert.

One of the most awaited bands of this year’s Sziget & for me was New York-based Interpol. Paul Banks and his companions ended up being one of the most important bands of the 21st-century indie and guitar-scene with their debut album titled Turn on the Bright Lights, and two years after their perfect debut their album Antics surpassed even the success of the first record. Interpol is a great live band, there is no doubt about that, however they failed to connect with the audience & I was waiting for a more spectacular performance – whereas not much has happened on the stage besides the mercury-like movement of guitarist Daniel Kessler, although the new member arriving from Secret Machines, substituting bass guitarist Carlos Dengler got wilder than any metal-face would have.

So, yes it is true, I got bored and I headed to the another most awaited band for me, which played the very same time at A38-wan2 (quite long name, lets name it just A38) stage.

Ladies & gentleman, The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 1977.

Whatever I say, it is not enough to describe the energy and the excellent performance of this band from Italy. You have to watch the video and make your own opinion…

After I headed for a bit at the Rock – Metal Stage in which the legendary Motorhead were performing and left some Ace of Spades. In between, Suicide Tendencies and the English synthpop duo, Hurts followed in the A38 stage.

Back in the Main Stage, Jarvis Cocker+Co. were bringing back one of the most daring eras of British music, from fifteen years ago – well, you know my opinion about re-unions…. Anyway, the lineup with Jarvis Cocker, Nick Banks, Steve Mackey, Russell Senior, Candida Doyle and Mark Webber started their concert with their opening song Do You Remember The First Time. Afterwards, Jarvis Cocker talked to the audience in Hungarian!, climbed a couple of sound boxes in his suit and This Is Hardcore and Common People followed, with the latter truly enchanting any common people…

It is worth to mention that during Interpol performance, Empire of Sun was performing in the Burn Party Arena.

 Despite all these, my festival day was NOT over. The big party was continued in the Burn Party Arena with Ambivalent, Marc Houle & the one and only mr. Richie Hawtin spreading some of the finest techno tunes.

Day 2

My festival day started with the French Ben L’ oncle Soul, who spread some soul love in the air and making the audience go crazy.

Elly Jackson’s band La Roux followed. Before started their concert, they pointed that this is the last time that they play the songs of their first album, and from now on, they are going to concentrate on the tracks of the second record. Then, they got started right with Tigerlily to make the crowd go crazy. Elly was wearing a floor-length mantle in the beginning, which she got rid of after the first two songs.

I didn’t stay until the end of the concert, because the American avant-garde group, Xiu Xiu were performing at the A38 stage almost the same time, so I headed there. They gave an excellent performance with a lot of energy. It was something quite different, not so pop and of course more sophisticate.

Back at the main stage for Good Charlotte concert. Well…, Good Charlotte is the kind of band you do not normally talk about, however , secretly everyone knows a couple of lines from their songs – at least the melody-line. This is not the reason why this band is amazing on a festival stage, but it’s rather the fact that Madden and co. do not want to come off as wild rock stars once they are UNICEF-ambassadors – and they perfectly know how to drive several thousands of people to the verge of ecstasy in a rather simple and plain way. First of all, you could see the growing audience in front of the Main Stage, the next thing was refrains spreading like an epidemic even to the back rows, and in the end we just caught ourselves doing whatever Joel Madden told us to do: kneel or jump up, depending on what came off as funny.

Kasabian was the next band followed in the Main stage. More confident than ever, they had as opening song the – together with Fucking in the Bushes by Oasis – considerable to be one of the most favorite intros in Great Britain, Club Foot to continue with the Where Did All The Love Go. The Leicester-based band also managed to show us plenty of new stuff off their new album Velociraptor! which is due to be released in September.

As is usual in big festivals, like Sziget, a lot of good gigs are happening the same time! So, I didn’t have time to enjoy the whole gig of Kasabian, because my favorite Crystal Castles was performing at A38 stage.

What I can say for the electronic duo from Toronto is just not enough… They do the most crazy, energetic and chaotic live show I have ever seen and fortunately for me & for the rest thousands inside the A38 stage, they prove it one more time and drive us go crazy. Alice did a stage dive, as always, to the thirsty audience and then she climbed back to the stage.  They performed for more than an hour and then they left without a good bye…as always.

The time was almost 10 pm and was time for some Chemistry… ladies & gentleman the legendary Chemical Brothers!

Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons made the audience of the crowd of the greatest stage of the festival move in a rather elegant, creative and professional manner. There are few electronic-music duos we could mention in contemporary pop music who have the ability to build up a massive and confident hour-and-a-half-long set like that of Chemical Brothers – what is more, without a minute of boredom. Chemistry between these Grammy-awarded electro-brothers has been strong for twenty years, and it can still get a hold of Sziget-audience. Their greatest hits (Hey Boy, Hey Girl, Out of Control, Star Guitar) and the songs of the new album (Escape Velocity, Swoon) worked as perfectly well as they did four years ago, but now the Rowlands-Simon couple did not play songs separately but rather performed their hits as part of a harmonic flow of music.

Well, until then I had seen some of the greatest bands, but this wasn’t enough! You see Sziget Festival is a 7 days celebration without a single break!  Time for the Flemish brothers, David and Stephen Dewaele. Maybe, you know them better with their stage name, 2manydjs.  They are from Belgium, they mess Prodigy with Nirvana & Mettalica and they are crazy!

My festival day closed with Gesaffelstein, despite his German name, he is from France.

Part 2 is coming soon…

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