Sziget’s third day was the first genuinely hot one at this year’s festival, although, to start the post with the mother of all stereotypes, the Brits in the toilet queue claimed to have been irrationally hot since Thursday. Sunbathing people populated the main stage area in the run up to the day’s concerts, which unfortunately consisted in possibly the blandest lot ever to have graced the festival’s biggest stage. First up were local boys Halott Pénz, against whom we have no fundamental objections, it’s just that during Sziget we tend to go for acts which otherwise don’t play in Budapest that often. Next up were Sum 41, against whom we have several fundamental objections, first and foremost being the one about why they are still around in 2016. They are disturbing even as a backdrop to buying food, so from that point on we kept as far away from the main area is possible. The day was made complete, though that term might not fit in this context by Tinie Tempah- again, no fundamental objections, but also no incentive to leave wherever we were just to immerse ourselves in his art. Of the headliner we will say that he’s a knob fiddler and leave it at that.
The good thing though is that there are plenty of things to do on Sziget even if the musical line up is not the strongest on a particular day, so we checked out the Luminariun, found the queue was yet again prohibitive and decided to try again later. Next on was the Hungarikum village area, where we indulged in some cider and will here take time to mention our happiness at cider being available on the island. Since we touched upon the topic: I am still not enamoured with Dreher and suspect it of giving hideous headaches, but the cold hop version tastes considerably better and has yet to cause real misery on the day after.
We then headed off to the opposite side of the island mainly to get a stamp- a few years ago passport styled programme booklets were introduced to replace the formerly traditional PestiEst Sziget special edition, and they come complete with a quest to obtain a number of stamps at different locations, which appeals to the five year old in each Szitizen. Sweet victory lay ahead as we collected ours at the sport zone, where more reasonable people were busy playing football, volleyball or ping pong, bag jumping and especially engaging in the most tiresome of sports related activities- watching others sweat blood for medals in Rio. The hot day also provided plenty of fodder for the bubble party bath, though our co-photographer, made industrious by Sziget delights, despondently remarked that the bathers were overwhelmingly young men.
With a pit stop at the Colosseum, where it’s still 3 AM, we finally arrived at the day’s first concert, quite naturally happening in A38. We were quite dismissive of Oscar and the Wolf in our pre-Sziget investigation, and only really decided to check him out when we saw a festival T-shirt on which he was topping the bill alongside dEUS and got intrigued, but he provided a pleasant surprise by sounding like he’d now finish bottom of a Eurovision contest, not because he’s the British entry, but because his music does not fit in that demographic anymore. The demographic he fits in is still overwhelmingly late teen and Belgian, but I’d choose his pleasant enough electro over a lot of alternatives and took a bit of time before I left the yearly Belgian love in and slowly headed into the unknown.
The unknown was the Blues Pub, which seemed pretty secluded when we went round from A38, but then turned out to be a stone’s throw away from the World Music and Afro Latin stages. The new set up of having almost all the stages grouped as closely as possible has fans as haters- the first group tickled pink by being able to easily go from one concert to another without necessarily getting lost, the second complaining of the existence of twilight, or better said twisound zones, where you can hear the rumble of at least three stages melting into a familiar Sziget noise. The reason for visiting the Blues Pub was that the pretty un-bluesy Palma Hills were playing there. They were my favourites in the Sziget Romania talent contest, introduced themselves as being from Transylvania (it’s them and Count Dracula, then) and were marked as a Hungarian band in the festival programme. I will try not to read anything into this and just assume that on Sziget you are first and foremost a Szitizen anything is possible and you can be whatever you want to be, so today I’m Irish. Given the weird time slot and genre grouping the crowd was sadly scarce and mostly located in the pub-by seated area at the back, but the band’s rather catchy indie sounded exciting enough to merit further listening, and hopefully a more suitable location next time they’re around, which I hope to be pretty soon.
Back to A38 again we checked out BØRNS, who turned out to be a bit below expectations- there was some sort of monotone mid level in all the songs, one of those rather unhappy occasions when the record sounds much better than the live performance, or, at least, the live performance adds nothing exciting to the music. When in doubt on Sziget, the World Music Stage is often a safe bet, especially this year when it hosted basically everyone it ever hosted before, like a best of line up of familiar names. This time it was Rachid Taha’s turn to play a concert he’s played before, and on several occasions- but at least in very different corners of the island, like that wilderness far off which has now become the sport zone, and which used to cause great misery when having to quickly commute to the main stage. There was hardly anything stellar in the performance, but the familiarity of unchanging things often proves surprisingly comforting.
On our way to Bloc Party’s show, you guessed right, A38 on duty again, we checked out French ensemble Lacaj, who, fittingly enough, play some thumping electro from inside an illuminated metal cage. They proved to be a nice prelude to Bloc Party, a band I’d seen several times before, both on Sziget and elsewhere, and who always fell somewhat short of the mark, not being able to translate the exciting sounds of their records into the life performance. I was however glad to notice that right after having mused on the comforting nature of unchanging things, I can now further philosophize on the wonderful nature of things which do change. Because Bloc Party were finally the heavy indie sound machine I’d always wanted them to be. And although the overall feeling of the day might have been somewhat muted, this last discovery alone was worth the wait.