Arriving on the Island at noon has the perks of absolutely no queue at the entrance- there is already a rather sizable queue at the Luminarium though, which we’ve had to pass on for the past years for exactly the aforementioned reason. So little time, so much to do, we quickly trudge by the French camping and witness what might or might not be a wake up group yoga practice and then arrive at the Lightstage which intriguingly enough has three shows in the early afternoon, then a big siesta followed by a DJ set around midnight. The act we are there to see are Tomma Alistar and they have a pretty neat crowd given the time slot, helped along by the cozy surroundings, freshly resplendent midday sun, proximity of Italian food and last but not least the fact that they are pretty good themselves, delivering the perfect chill out music for those assembled to rest out the toils of the previous night (Rihanna’s dirt brown hoodie now a distant horror from a past you’d rather forget) and gear up for the day to come.
The day to come is however slow to start, so we have plenty of time for a little voyage of discovery into corners of the island situated outside of the usual Bermuda triangle of Main Stage- A38 Stage- World Music Stage. First up is the NGO island, where we are happy to see the rabbi still dispenses useful advice for ten forints, then we touch down at the Magic Mirrors venue, which is pretty packed for an afternoon film showing, while in the Colosseum people are still dancing like it’s 3 AM- which is most natural since to some Sziget is one whopping week long 3 AM. Those who feel ready for something more challenging are absorbed in the kind of Art Zone activities that require the talent, ability and skill which we utterly lack, so we’re on to the Sziget beach, which is the place to lounge if you’re a baby sloth disguised as a Szitizen. Sadly this year the Danube’s level is too high for an actual beach to be set up, but there are still plenty of people loitering around Cöxpon’s bean bags.
Back in A38 there are a lot of French people to welcome Jain- the festival’s organizers do strive each year to bring several acts from the countries providing the largest numbers of foreign visitors, but we’re happy to say Jain’s world music infused Gallic pop is enjoyable regardless of nationality. She also gets bonus points for being a captivating presence although alone on stage with a synthesizer, where she must however feel a bit lonely since she closes the show by taking a ride over the crowd in a giant bubble.
Next up in front of the main stage, the only time of the festival when waving a giant flag of whatever in front of your stupefied neighbours definitely won’t get you labelled as a dickhead, because we’re having the now traditional 7 PM fiesta. This year’s flags come in some brand new fashionable colours (I am totally in for the mint green one) and then we’re all set for Bastille. Though that might be an overstatement, since the last time they graced the island we were not at all enamoured by them and have not spent any considerable length of time since trying to like them. Bastille, however, seem to like playing Sziget and as the gig progresses we come to the slightly shocking conclusion that their charm campaign worked and they might just have grown on us. I am therefore typing this to the sounds of Things We Lost in the Fire, one of those things apparently being a dislike for Bastille. However, given that I am misanthropic enough to need a nice healthy dose of hatred and disdain, I will now be looking for a new act to utterly dislike, and David Guetta is just way too easy as a target. The challenge is on. (Because this bit of the review is totally subjective, be informed that Bastille are from England. play a sort of indie and their second album is due to be released this autumn.)
The headline slot of the island is shared by regulars across the Bermuda triangle: Manu Chao is due on the Main Stage, the World Music Stage re-welcomes Goran Bregovic while Editors are on in A38. Schedule clashes are always an occasion for some exasperated Sziget eye rolling, so another item can be ticked off this year as well, and some of us, namely the writer of this piece, now in the run up to some gushing about Editors, make the decision to go for A38. Editors have of course played Barba Negra last December, and I can think of several nice slots in the city where the could play next December, and many Decembers after. The set is not much changed, nor the delivery, and most of the things I wrote in last year’s review apply to this concert as well- out of all the bands I love (not all that many) Editors are probably the only one whose shows never disappointed me. I can even say that I only really jumped on their bandwagon after seeing them live and they are among the elect few who still make me push and shove to the front row mouthing the lyrics I’ve heard oh so many times. Also, I will here mention Tom Smith’s hands. Just for the record.
Also for the record, those of us who are not me and boldly decided to stay at the main stage claimed in unison that Manu Chao was great, although without being very articulate about it or further elaborating. However, given the fact that none of them would necessarily be Manu’s core audience, I can safely assume that he put on a great show- of which ability I myself had been convinced all along, but hard Sziget choices are hard and I can only hope for a friendlier schedule next time he returns.
We closed the day with UNKLE, who performed the feat of being to the liking of pretty much everyone in our group in spite of a rather divergent array of musical tastes. My track record with them is somewhat similar to that of Editors in that I started listening to them much more intensely after seeing them live- on Sziget, of course, in an earlier iteration of the A38 tent, which was white and square, and reminded me of those used back in the day for traditional village weddings. Today’s A38 is a brilliant red eye candy, but never mind the tent, UNKLE can still pack some elemental punches into their track- if the other day I was talking about electronic music with a heart, well this one is electronic music with guts.