Saturday begins with the odd realization that the festival has only just begun in earnest- and is already heading into it’s second sold out day, a far cry from early times when it never occurred to you that tickets would not be available at the entrance. Many other festivals don’t even have day tickets anymore and sell out passes well before the event, something Sziget could probably do, yet they still insist on catering to people, mostly locals, who might not be able to afford a week long stay, but would want to join in the party even for a shorter time.
The next question one ponders is how the two sold out days compare in terms of headliners- is Muse sharing Rihanna’s popularity levels, albeit with a different crowd, is it the same crowd (a bit scary from Muse’s perspective) or is it the combined effects of Muse’s might and the fact that it’s Saturday, so those Budapesters who just want to pop out for a day chose it having in sight a long and restorative Sunday sleep session. Judging by the crowds assembled in front of the main stage at 9 PM, one would tend towards the third alternative, as the crowd is definitely less packed than for Rihanna and allows for comfortable movement at the back- it also helps that, this being a ‘real’ festival day, many more alternative venues are available than during Rihanna’s gig. This being said, the number of people rambling on the island in Muse band t-shirts was quite overwhelming during day, and since high street retail chains are yet to launch Muse themed attire along the lines of fifteen year olds running in Nirvana t-shirts, I assume everyone in a Muse t-shirt kind of knew why they were wearing it.
But much was to pass before the headliner’s show, and we’ll jump into the thick of it- or rather, the rarefied relaxational bit of it, namely the sparsely populated early afternoon A38 slot of Norma Jean Martine, whom I will honestly admit to having picked only because of the name. Someone who gets a head start in life with her parents thinking it appropriate to endow her with a name of such weight should be of some interest. Instead of launching into a Shakespearean ‘what’s in a name’ diatribe however, I will let you know that Norma Jean is a singer song writer with a pleasant enough voice and catchy enough tunes who might or might not get a big break sometime in the near future- only time will tell whether her moniker brings her luck.
After loitering around the island and witnessing a small Sziget miracle, namely the lately decidedly un-lazy co-photographer of the blog consuming vegan food, we were ready for some !!!, as much as anyone can ever be ready for them. For I do resent the name- as you can see I am super objective at judging artists only by what’s relevant to their craft. But you just keep having to be silly and go chk chk chk when talking about them, or alternatively maybe try to launch into producing the sounds as glottal stops and forever alienating the few friends you still have left. They’re also the kind of band whose rather tame dance punk will always be entertaining and a bit camp, not unlike lead singer Nic Offer’s compulsory shorts, but will never move mountains and they do stay true to form this time as well.
Going head to head with !!! and probably explaining the relative emptiness of the tent are Bring Me The Horizon, who have a rather intense juvenile following, just as Kodaline do, bringing further clues as to why the day might have been sold out. Nifty move from the programmers, yet we decide to pretend like neither of the bands are happening and pick up the thread of our one sided quarrel with aforementioned programmers: why in the sweet name of Thor, Odin and a gathering of lesser Viking gods are Sigur Rós playing on the main stage when it’s still light outside. The band come complete with one of the most elaborate set ups to grace the main stage, their mesmerizing visuals and a wish to start earlier so they can play longer. Let that sink in. No, really, take a moment and think about it. These nice people come from Iceland, make music akin to the early sounds of the universe coming into being and want you to be happy. The fact that many in the crowd are a bit puzzled, quote boredom and weasel around waiting for Matt Bellamy’s thunderous guitar is just a sign of them being unworthy. It also ruins the gig for everybody else, which is he kind of sin that will make Odin come after them one day.
Before skipping on to the man with the thunderous guitar, I will spend some time to elaborate on a sequence of events which underline Sziget’s unique greatness: in less than three hours, with the interlude of some in this context quite conventional English guitar music, I could listen to 18th Century Karelian rap delivered by Finnish trio Värttinä, 21st Century Turkish rap from Ceza and Mexican rap rock band Molotov. You really can’t get much more entertained than that, as they were all quite good at their craft, with a particular shout out to Ceza, who kept an impressive and not only Turkish crowd in front of the Europe Stage, going partially against Mr Thunder. Here we can also touch on the fact that besides a really strong showing from Turkey, which we already mentioned, this year South America is also sending a surprisingly large amount of Szitizens to the island, and we also ran into Indian and Iranian flags on several occasions, and felt quietly smug about telling them apart at a first glance, since they happen to be quite similar.
Now to the main stage thunder: somewhat strangely, right after the gig opinions seemed to be quite divided. Raving reactions mixed with grumbles and in all honesty I think I can understand why. Muse delivered exactly what they were expected to deliver, thus pleasing hardcore fans, and they have them aplenty. For a non convert, though, there is just too much museness about Muse. Their insistence on how well they can play their instruments (ridiculously, awe inspiringly well), launching into solos every half a song or so, can get overbearing and downright tedious after a while. There, Matt is doing it again, where is that bloody chorus, we might be here for the night and it will never come, oh, but it does, and now: drum solo!
It’s like your super gifted neighbours, possibly of alien origin, are improvising a jam session each night and you love them to shreds but also secretly wish they’d stopped the nonsense. When they do stop the nonsense and deliver their better known songs you have time to pause and realize just how much like Queen something like Madness sounds, and wonder whether that’s good. All in all, this jury’s still delivering. While this showing was vastly superior to Muse’s previous Sziget visit, there are still some question marks I just can’t brush aside. There’s nothing to be brushed aside about Róisín Murphy though: the lady is a bit of a cook, in all the right ways, and provides an entertaining wind down to a pretty intense day- it seems ages, but the festival has only just passed its mid point, so we keep the seat belts fastened for the rest of ride.