I must confess I started the last day with a slight feeling of lack- this had been a great week, no doubt about that, with the risk of sounding cliché- Sziget always is a great week, but something was missing from the experience and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The re-arranged stages unsettled me at first, but I found order in the madness later, many concerts had been great to exquisite, the weather was festival perfect (I know, some found it too hot during the day, but I always prefer overly hot days to sweater weather evenings.) And yet…
The answer and solution would soon be found, but not before we successfully navigated the logistical nightmare of getting drinks around the entrance area right when the daily programme gets in full swing. Yes, I know, we should have known better than to attempt the impossible, but José González was scheduled to start in A38, so we had no choice. As the gates opened it soon became obvious that José has a good many fans on the island- this was probably the highest attendance of the week for the 5 PM act, pretty much filling the entire tent. Sure enough, some people chose to sit in the back and relax- which is a perfect way to enjoy José González’s delicately crafted minimalist guitar music on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon- the storm was brewing, and this time for good.
As I was quietly enjoying the concert it dawned on me that this might be the first time ever in my long Sziget history when I am completely uninterested in any of the main stage acts- which doesn’t mean I was fully spared their onslaught, as I needed to refill my spritzers every now and then in the strategically placed Spritzer Garden (one of the best things on Sziget, and this coming from a staunch beer fanatic).
So here it comes: Rudimental– I can only quote one of my favourite 20th century philosophers, Winnie the Pooh: ’A huge big — well, like a — I don’t know — like an enormous big nothing.’ Limp Bizkit– sometime around the year 2000 this could have marginally worked, but today it felt like Fred Durst was still slightly tired after his meal in Hachapuri the previous night and tried to settle his digestion by doing everything halfheartedly- or as our more mathematically minded fellow photographer observed, they gave about 60%. Martin Garrix– Winnie’s words do him no justice, he’s worse than nothing, worse than Avicii, worse than being sucked into a black hole. His music might be loud, but it’s so catastrophically monotonous, that between beats you can distinctly hear the screams of brain cells dying all around you.
Given these scary manifestations of human strangeness, we had no choice but to retreat to A38. And in A38 we found answers. Kwabs was not yet really the answer, but he’s very useful to make a point: while not an R&B and soul fan by definition, I could still perfectly enjoy his set, because he is a good musician and looks thoroughly like someone who knows what they are doing. Covering Arctic Monkeys didn’t hurt either and earned the man some well-deserved brownie points.
Fauve, on the other hand, were the first part of the answer. For those who don’t know them- most people outside the French speaking world, that is, they might be a bit hard to explain: a band and not only, they combine different artistic platforms to get their message, of social criticism mixed with hope, through.
Needless to say, I fully get how art school bullshit this might sound, so it comes as a wonderful revelation that in concert they could not be further from that- they are every bit that type of freight train of amazing band who blast through their set prey to a higher form of passion for what they do, for what they are, for life in general. The crowd was mostly French, but not only, and as this was their first ever concert outside French speaking areas, the band were very evidently impressed to see such a large crowd turn out to their gig. So that’s it, that’s what I missed, Sziget magic: when something special happens, not just a good concert, but a concert with a feeling that will last beyond this day, this festival, this island. I was there that time in A38, screaming my lungs out to really fast French rapping, and for that hour or so I really couldn’t have been happier anywhere else.
Now Fauve I knew pretty well and expected them to be quite good but the next bit of Sziget magic was of the more unexpected kind. Holding on tight to my spritzer while trying to survive walking through the sonic crimes of Martin Garrix, I decided to go to A38 and give that Let Her Go Passenger bloke a chance. And I can’t really remember the last time I took a better decision concert-wise. As I walk into the tent, in the middle of the stage there’s a slight man in very tight jeans, and he has a guitar. He is making friendly banter- and I realize it’s not just the usual so glad to be here talk, he is genuinely funny and engaging. In the background, as his songs come to a halt, you can hear the dark rumble of the Main Stage, so he casually puts into words what we’ve all been feeling a bit: they are the Death Star, and we’re the rebel forces. And when the fireworks explode over the island, only a handful of people run to the edge of the tent, everyone else is busy singing their hearts out together, the Death star exploded- and we have won.
The storm then arrived with the might only angry nature can muster, so our Sziget experience ended a bit abruptly, but in a very poignant manner: Sziget is wonderful for many reasons, but most of all because it teaches us that every now and then a man with a guitar can change the world, even if only a little. And that means the light is winning.