I might as well start this year’s second Sziget line up review with the same world altering concerns I had last year: the day 0 headliner and the knob fiddler of the end show. So the fiddler is Dutch, who would have thought- there is something super rotten in the kingdom of the Netherlands, and they seem to be producing these absolutely average but ridiculously successful one man acts like other countries make chocolate rolls. Don’t really know how chocolate rolls popped into my mind first, but they seem vastly more entertaining than Hardwell– for that is the man’s name, and with this off my chest, I shall approach the next subject, namely that of Rihanna.
She’s the face majestically staring off into the distance over Margit bridge on the festival’s biggest poster, so we can safely infer she’s therefore it’s biggest star. There’s really no need to argue with that, what certain people argued with is whether Sziget needs such a big star at all. On the day of the announcement Facebook was flooded with posts of how people either thought this is the end of days, or described the speed with which they snapped up their ticket to her show.
On the one hand, Sziget is a big happy place, and can fit both Rihanna and semi unknown acoustic acts, on the other hand, one cannot but think at how many lesser, but festival friendlier acts could have been signed with the same undisclosed amount of money. Rihanna’s fans aren’t necessary the festival going type either, though presumably her presence will give day 0 a whiff of Coachella, which is not necessarily a whiff I’m particularly fond of when foreign influences are concerned.
Luckily, there’s plenty to see and listen to if you’re feeling a bit ANTI- yes, that is a bad joke and I apologize, but sometimes I can’t help it, just like Noel Gallagher couldn’t help badmouthing his brother in the late Oasis days, which in a meandering way led to him coming to Sziget with his oddly name outfit of High Flying Birds. He’d probably be taking offence at his new effort being labelled a poorer attempt at being Oasis, but then again, so is Liam’s Beady Eye, therefore we’re being totally just.
For a more genuine 90s experience, one should probably scurry to whichever tent UNKLE will be playing in- let’s just hope it’s a tent, and it’s late at night, and dark, as it should be, though lately the Sziget programmer has been in a bit of a whimsical mood so fingers crossed we won’t have a trip hop picnic in the blazing island sun.(In the meantime I ogled the press release better and got confirmation that UNKLE will indeed be ensconced in the cozy darkness of A38, but now the trio hop picnic idea sounds strangely appealing.)
There’s plenty of repeat offenders this year as well (and that really isn’t a complaint), though with Manu Chao soon it will be hard to tell when he isn’t in Budapest. Jake Bugg on the other hand is pretty young to be a repeat offender, but the man just likes to tick boxes at such a tender age. Kaiser Chiefs have seen finer days- last time they were in Budapest they got a police escort from the airport to the venue and I bought one of their band T-shirts- but they should still be entertaining enough in one of the earlier Main Stage slots. Skunk Anansie are slowly becoming a Hungarian festival staple in the unlikely company of The Prodigy (who are gracing VOLT this year) and Enter Shikari (who don’t have a Hungarian date for this year yet, and I’m beginning to worry.)
There is of course no Sziget without a reminder of past sins- though I will forever blame missing out on Die Antwoord last time they were on the island on the oft reviled programmer, who scheduled them to go head to head with Kasabian. And one does obviously not desert a Kasabian gig, entertaining as Ninja and Yo-Landi might be. Missing out on Crystal Castles should however qualify as a bigger sin, firstly because I have no idea why I did it, and secondly because this time it’s an Alice Glass-less act, which is missing out on half the fun. Or almost all of it. Bloc Party are also returning with a changed line up, and also, alas, a rather tentative fifth album- but I still expect them to provide more entertainment than Bastille, who are basically back to annoy me. Actually they’re back to make little girls happy, which in the grand scheme of things is not such an objectionable mission. I’m probably just bitter I’m not little anymore.
The World Music stage is basically one big jolly repeat offence as it is, with regulars such as Goran Bregovic (also pretty much always in Budapest, just like Manu Chao), Rachid Taha, Leningrad, Fanfare Ciocârlia or Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra all making appearances. It does however give me a little heartbreak not to have Shane MacGowan present, especially given that the man has new teeth and could have finally shown Sziget a smile that wouldn’t scare the living daylights out of us. And it’s also supercool to have some Irish music in general- which reminds me, there was a year when I got free Guinness on Sziget, that’s one idea right there on how to make this year’s edition both appealing to the masses and old school at the same time.
But there’s plenty of new names as well, like Norwegian Aurora– whose wiki page revealed firstly, that she’s ridiculously young, being born in 1996, and that there are several bands by the name of Aurora, one of them being, naturally, a British Christian girl group. Whatever that means. Aurora sports a blonde bob, which comes in very handy to link her to another artist on her first Sziget appearance, Sia.
Good electro is not always easy to find, so it’s double nice that one of the bands who are doing it quite well these days is from Romania- Golanwill be playing on the Europa stage, which will also host the winners of the Sziget talent contests held in 16 European countries.
I’ve also successfully identified a lengthy host of artists I have never heard of before- which first threw me into fits of panic along the lines of I’m getting old and disconnected from new music, but then I realized that all Sziget line ups have been similar, it’s just that in the past we weren’t so glued to the Internet, dissecting the line up months in advance.
At some point in mid-summer, the good old PestiEst special edition came out with the programme, and you really couldn’t be bothered with the acts you did’t know, you just focused on the ones you wanted to see and the logistics and financial conundrums of doing that. Riding the wave of online possibilities, I have decided to give all these strange names a chance and listen to at least one of their songs- the verdict, however, is left for the next installment.