Sziget 2014 Diary: Day Five

The last day was to be kicked off on the VOLT stage with Hangmás, who would in all likelihood be a tad more popular in a country more attuned to indie than Hungary, but as things stand they were relegated to an awkward half past three slot, where they tried their best to please a crowd composed mostly of people wandering in from the nearest hot dog stand. The concert was no match to the intensity of their usual club gigs, but at least we did not suffer too much of a heartbreak when the main stage beckoned, as grandiose things were about to happen there.

There are few satisfactory synonyms for tantalizingly awesome, and Ruben Block is one of them. Generally, Triggerfinger are just better than your average band: they play better, they move better, they are more Belgian and they of course have one more Ruben Block than any other band, ever. Beyond the shameless fangirling, which we should have grown out of by now, but cannot (because Ruben Block), Triggerfinger sound great even if you don’t look at the stage- to see you know who magnificently wield his guitar. Maybe for a second here and there you did wish they were back in the A38 tent , for their intensity seems better framed by a dark enclosed space, but then there’s a giant burst of a sound and you’re all happy to be out in the open and desperately fantasize about what it would be like to wipe The Kooks, OutKast and Calvin Harris off the playlist to have a whole evening of Triggerfinger. You could easily shoot up the fireworks to them as well, though frankly you would not need to, because they put the pyrotechnics in their music.

(As a sidenote to the dark small stage thing- it’s gonna happen in November on A38, and I am already prepared with a flood of Triggerfinger rock my boat puns.)

Not many bands would sound adequate after Triggerfinger, but this is not really a problem for The Kooks, for they would not sound adequate after or before anyone, and they particularly do not sound adequate during their performance. There might have been a time when some of their songs hit a cute poppy factor, but the problem with said factor is that it has a very quick expiry date. They do have some rabid groupies though, who were marginally more interesting to watch than the band itself, To be honest, they sounded just fine from the height of the Sziget wheel, but once you descend to the ground, you’re looking for answers, as to why on earth are they still around and when will this stop.

It stopped just in time for OutKast to be promising on paper, and then fail pretty miserably as well. Good thing there was a serpentine party right before their gig, so we had at least a bit of fun in the meantime. I started having my doubts about this whole André 300/Big Boi extravaganza midway into the second song, which just didn’t sound exciting at all. Then neither did the third or the fourth, but I was still giving them the benefit of doubt: since I am not a particularly big fan of their genre, maybe it’s me who’s missing something. But then their fans started grumbling too. And everybody was bored and tired- it’s the last day of the festival, of course, but what’s OutKast’s excuse? The absolute sign of a Sziget failure is when the band’s hit song sounds better from the mobile toilet than from the front of the main stage- well Hey Ya was quite alright from inside the loo, and really not there at all on the outside.

By this time the end was sadly in sight, and the main stage did not promise anything fruitful. Fireworks are quite alright and so are glowing led sticks -particulary when you’re three years old, but let’s say after seven festival days anybody can be tired enough to be cheered by a led stick. Calvin Harris on the other hand is something you’d probably wish on your worst enemies, if you were particularly cruel. It’s open for debate who’s worse- last year’s Guetta or this year’s Harris. They both have die hard fans of course, and danced to strictly within the confines of a club their music is probably palatable as well- yet it’s greatest asset is that while all those silly people are jumping around senselessly to Mr Harris those in the know can enjoy something really worthwhile in A38.

La Roux was back on Sziget after a more than lukewarm first concert a few years back and a rather long hiatus altogether. But ever since her new record came out this year, her reviews kept getting better and better- so finally, here it was: the Sziget returner who makes up for a first stumble with a brilliant performance. There was really no need, no point and no sense in going to Calvin Harris, when La Roux served up something fundamentally better: music you can dance to, but which has a soul and a brain. With two brilliant albums she can now pull of a festival appearance that is jam packed with catchy tunes from the beginning to the end.

It was very tempting to end Sziget on a high pop rush, but you’re not an old school fan if you don’t attend Sziámi’s closing gig- back in the old days his band was main stage material, but with the advent of Harrises and Guettas he was sent into exile onto one of the smaller stages. Yet nostalgia never tastes sweeter than when the curtains are about to be pulled down, so unwinding at the VOLT stage felt like a must.

What is even better than a closing gig is attending another one after it- A38 had not yet fully emptied its small box of wonders , and Darkside were simply the perfect end note for the festival. Their moody and atmospheric music calls for one last beer sipped slowly, one last chance to get lost in the sound, one last look back at this week’s madness. And the usual mantra: next year, same place, same madness, new wonders.

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