This has been a strange Sziget concert wise- while in other years there was always one, maybe two, concerts which were clearly above the rest of the field, this year I just could not make up my mind, no matter how hard I tried. So the top five is basically random, each one of those performances could have claimed the first spot based on certain criteria, but might have fallen behind on others. And since I got stuck with eleven names as well, the last spot is a shared one.
So number ten goes to the odd couple of José González and the Kings of Leon. Though if I come to think of it, they do share the common denominator of playing music that is not necessarily classical festival material.
One might of course object that the Kings of Leon for one have headlined many major festivals and pulled off huge arena shows, but for me their music is teetering too much on the edge of different genres to have the kind of staunch and cohesive following which makes truly explosive festival headliners. The most frequent negative remark I heard about their set is that is was boring- many of today’s festival goes expect the headliners to rumble on like asteroids from him to hit, and up the notch of frenzy with each song. This is one of the reasons why (below) average DJs spinning everyone else’s overplayed smash hits get to be the main act of the night on Sziget and might be one of the reasons why Robbie Williams chose to pepper his set with so many covers.
If you don’t please the hyper active crowd with a strong impulse at least once a minute, they will start fidgeting with their phones, selfie stick and beer cans. The fact that after armies of knob turners and song samplers a band was finally playing brilliant live music was lost on many. For that’s what the Kings of Leon did: from the first chord to the last, they played good music and played it well.
That not all their songs are Sex is on Fire is something anyone who has listened to any of their albums at least once will know, and should decide on watching the show or not accordingly. Somewhere on the island there was a knob turner they might very well have chosen instead. It’s also quite true that the last couple of Kings of Leon albums might have been a bit bland compared to Only by the Night, but then again, that one is so exquisite that many things will become bland when compared to it.
José González is definitely able to prove that you don’t have to run around the stage like a manic squirrel looking for a lost nut to be thoroughly enjoyable- and during a week of frantic activities there is nothing wrong with going to a concert where lots of people sit down. Not because they’re bored or tired, but because there is a special pleasure in getting lost in the music a bit, which is better done seated, lest you fall over a sleeping Dutchman in your reverie. (The Dutchman for his part could have, and probably did sleep through Martin Garrix as well.) (If you don’t know who Martin Garrix is, you’re fortunate and do not, I repeat, do not google him.)