I am guilty as charged: sometimes, even during a concert I quite like, if there is a lull in the proceedings, I take out my phone with the rather weak excuse that someone might be looking for me. Generally, a large number of people might be looking for you at any time on Sziget, and they will either find you accidentally, or not find you at all because the coordinates you gave them exist in some iteration on the other side of the island as well and they’ll go there, wait a little, get distracted and end up at a pantomime performance or such.
So when I notice no one is looking for me with despair I might perhaps browse the interwebs, just in case there is something of interest there. So yesterday I found an article about how Sziget is an international utopia of friendship and understanding that Hungary in particular and the world in general sorely needs. And then I found another article about how going to concerts makes you happy- according to a study made by those pesky British scientists who investigate all the phenomena of the known and unknown universe. So I promptly slipped my phone back and went on swaying to the music with a grin. In the breaks between songs, about a dozen languages would float towards me- each break a differently made up dozen.The music was great, I clutched a cold cider in my hand- I’m in a week long utopia, I said, and I am happy.
The more bugging part was that the utopia was heading towards it’s closing stages, because, as the old gentleman in a wheelchair whom I met in the coffee queue said, he only has two problems in life, namely that Sziget (he called it ‘this beautiful thing’) will end soon and he won’t live forever. The Sziget beach lounge area by now looked like a scene from a post apocalyptic film depicting the last refuge of humanity’s sole survivors and some of these survivors then headed into the wilderness, zombie eyed, with mis-shaped bags and oddly repacked tents.
Before succumbing to horrible nostalgia, though, we still had plenty of things to see. First among them was twenty year old Norwegian Aurora’s gig in the A38 tent. She’d come on my radar earlier in the year and I was very curious to see how her moody electro translates live. It’s most definitely stereotyping working right here, but her songs give me the feeling that you’re rambling in the primeval mists of some fjord at the end of the world and will soon meet forest elves. Aurora might be one of these forest elves herself, albeit one who comes across as incredibly charming, giggling with delight between songs as if surprised that people turned out for her at all. She notices some fans brought her small presents and flowers, and we are then treated to the sight of the poker faced security guard hoisting a bouquet of orange lilies on stage. Since you might be interested in the conclusion of the train of thought I began earlier: her music is double beautiful live, gaining even more breadth and punch, and definitely places her among Sziget 2016’s best shows.
Before checking out the Lumineers on the main stage, we make a pit stop at Golan’s Europe Stage gig and find it a little timid by the band’s standards: somehow the last couple of days have drawn people away from a venue which was very popular in the beginning and bands tend to feel discombobulated by the smaller, and spectacularly more tired crowds assembling in front of it. The Lumineers on their part ingratiated themselves with Budapesters by posting a lovely shot of the sun setting over the Danube on their Instagram account, and that is exactly how their music sounds: a by now somewhat faded snapshot of a pleasant holiday you spent years ago in Colorado, that you fondly remember every now and then and then forget all about it. Also, the band’s cellist looked incredibly grumpy throughout the gig, as if she’d much rather spend her time back on a boat on the river sipping white wine or something. Hope we haven’t done anything to upset you, Neyla.
At this point we decided it was time for our industrious co-photographer to do some field work on his own, and he was sent to report back on FIDLAR’s A38 gig. The project might be called a success as he was delighted by the show and called it one of the best of the festival, also pointing out that the band plays some sort of punk and there were strange antics both on stage and in the crowd.
All this while we were getting in the zone- there’s no beating about the bush, The Last Shadow Puppets gig was the concert I for one was awaiting most eagerly, and will therefore be most subjective about it. I’ll rush into the bad pun right at the beginning to spare you later horrors: they were everything I’ve come to expect. There was a lot of bromancing, a lot of posturing, a lot of loitering around the stage being superlative- there was also some crowd interaction from Miles, definitely the more seasoned entertainer and some walking around looking confused, puzzled and in want of a pint of something from Alex. And I totally understand that some might think they are just two spoiled brats from England treating the world to their fantasies of grandeur and there are suckers who buy into it. The reason why we buy into it, though, is very simple: it’s the music. Good, honest, beautiful guitar music. Everything happening on stage might be a show, and for show: but the music wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve.
And on this bombshell- Sziget ended. There was apparently an actual end show, it apparently involved a Dutch knob fiddler, there were fireworks too and we even had the time to check out Satellites playing a decidedly intimate set at the now almost ghostly Europe Stage. But Sziget had been over the moment the kind of music that festivals truly deserve had died out over the main stage. And it’s for these singular moments that it’s worth every penny, every suspicious toilet, every headache, every tired limb, every confused Brit asking for directions, every overcrowded alley and every dawn when the gates close and you feel sad a little.
PS: Enthused over the success of his FIDLAR endeavour, our co-photographer was sent out into the night to check out Bullet For My Valentine (He now calls them Eardrums, What Are Those and Why Do You Need Them). Presently he claims this was not the best idea, they were awfully loud, very angry, and he’s still scared a bit.