I had been pretty impressed with the way the new entry system works, which did not seem to get clogged in spite of the ID check- people who’d gone to the island earlier in the day confirmed that they had smooth sailing up to the first top up point and queuing at one of those, well, that’s the sweet sound of unavoidable right there on day minus 1. Therefore I was pretty dismayed to be confronted with a large and by then slightly grumpy group of people huddled in front of the entry gates, moaning in unison, albeit in at least a dozen different languages something along the lines of are we there yet. Well, we weren’t.
The queue finally started moving at the pace of a blind snail- come to think of it, snails are blind anyway, so this might not be my best simile, but suffice to say, progress was slow and painful. When I finally made it to my gate and must have had a slightly puzzled face, I got an answer I may not have been expecting: It’s because of the sausages. As it turns out, just before my arrival, a suspicious back pack had been found, was then duly inspected, and it’s contents identified: sausages and beer. I suddenly forgot all about my hardships and just let this sink in, for really, what kind of an unprincipled, reckless person leaves sausages behind? Beer is not allowed, of course, but you can just distribute it to those waiting in the queue as pre-entry refreshment and it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye, and you save those sausages.
Still dazed by the magnitude of such foolishness I made my not necessarily majestic entry to the island, and found those immense crowds at the already mentioned top up point. Which brings me to muse over the general fickleness of human nature: why not go for one further away? Yes, all top up points are busier on the first day, but those a bit upstream of the main stage had a perfectly containable queue. Similarly, at the end of the day, after years and years of Sziget experience, people still waited for the suburban train at the very front of the platform, prompting the driver’s ever more exasperated yelps of go to the damn back of it too (the yelps were in Hungarian so they didn’t help all that much, but the intention was noble.)
We seem to be always trapped in the realm of the immediate which in my case, during Marky Ramone’s concert, was hunger. It didn’t hurt that hunger was taking me away from the scene of the crime as, though I wish to give no offence to a Ramone, the sounds coming from the main stage did not send our hearts aflutter or rather sent them aflutter in all the wrong ways. Of course, punk has never really been a genre I felt particularly attracted to, so I will basically claim incompetence on this one, but the blog’s lazy co-photographer insisted that I convey his opinion as to this being a really very bad concert and he just wanted a donut and the whole thing to be over in the blink of an eye.
Once it was over, though, everyone on the island had new immediate concerns, namely the impending arrival of rain, and what in the context of August might be called a slight gust of Siberian air. People in front of the main stage were still practicing their powers of self delusion and prancing around in attire fit for tropical evenings, but Skin herself soon showed up in an item which seemed to have been designed for an eccentric snowboarder gone haywire on Alpine slopes. Skunk Anansie are Sziget regulars and as such, old and hard to please as I’ve grown, can’t really do it for me anymore. They seem to be playing the same songs over and over again, almost in the same way, maybe in the same order, God only knows- the only thing changing is Skin’s attire, which usually draws my attention for the first couple of songs and then they’ve lost me and my mind wanders freely and I start musing about important aspects of existence, unrelated to Skunk Anansie, like just how soggy this Frenchman’s green tutu will become when the heavens open. Skin herself is still a ball of energy though, but the only ball which could have kept me in front of the stage during the deluge was a waterproof cocoon made of silk, soft cotton and warmth, and since I had none, I had to do with sitting perched on a bed-like covered contraption alongside other people who’s faces looked like they were mentally entering the above mentioned coccoon.
It might only be a strange and fortuitous coincidence, but I can think of several examples of rather violent and insistent rain stopping right before a concert which then turned out to be quite awesome. The first time it happened I was borderline convinced Bono could control the elements, but we are all children once, then we grow up and start liking serious adult things, like two South Africans, one of them really amazingly tiny, in Pokemon onesies (among other things). Die Antwoord started out as mostly a niche phenomenon- the music itself a weird concoction of rave and rap, delivered either in totally bonkers English or Afrikaans, plus a strong visual element built on South African zef culture, which by now we’ve learnt to mean trashy and uncool. But of course the whole point is that Die Antwoord made zef ridiculously cool, so much so that on the very day of the concert Yolandi Visser went on an Instagram rant accusing Suicide Squad’s creators of appropriating their style and my only input on this is that when I saw Harley Quinn’s short shorts in the movie trailer Yolandi was the first thing that came to my mind. Okay, I have a second input too: Yolandi wears hers better.
Die Antwoord’s performance was also put into perspective by the evening’s headliners, with whom I confess to having a love-indifference relationship. Love for their work in general, as I’ve always felt they make the kind of electronic music which transcends being machine made rhythm and thump and turns into something altogether more cerebral, and sometimes even inhabited by feelings. Their live shows, though, are a little more than glorified DJ sets with some pretty visuals thrown in- some sort of Avicii for the thinking (wo)man, which thought in itself is disturbing. While watching Die Antwoord was always captivating and made you forget about your frozen toes and soggy jacket, with the Chemical Brothers I had to will myself to pull through the more random parts in the middle, which resulted in the buying of a beer, and since our feelings for the festival’s staple item are mixed, to say the least, that was definitely a bad idea. To give credit where it’s due, though, jumping around to Block Rockin Beats does give you that giddy-happy feeling that makes festivals worth every penny even when the elements tell you your bed might be a better place to be.