These days I’ve been reading Sylvie Simmons’s excellent biography of Leonard Cohen, because what better way to spend February than in the company of the godfather of gloom. Though actually the man had become increasingly more at peace with himself and this miserable universe of ours towards the end of his life, thanks in good measure to Zen meditation. Although Zen meditation is yet another thing I’m quite rubbish at, I gave it a try the other day, while taking the scenic route on tram number 2. There was not much to be seen due to the fog, so I was keenly listening to my music, incidentally ALT-J, and thought long and hard about what a splendid thing it would be if they were to come to Sziget.(Again, this time when I’ve finally realized they’re the next best thing after universal love and gummy bears.) And lo behold, they are indeed coming back to our lovely island. So there you have it, meditation works, and I ought to try it with other bands.
They’re not the only ones returning to the fold, so to speak: White Lies are also back riding on the tails of their excellent album Friends, released last year. I can also not resist sharing this picture of Harry McVeigh with a giant breeze-block (ALT-J title alert) of a book, because I get deep feels towards anyone lugging giant tomes around to the most impractical of places. Deep from the past of Sziget we have Mando Diao resurfacing apparently without former lead singer Gustaf Norén, which caused me a pang of guilt for not properly following obscure indie acts and thus undermining my credentials. It’s a relief though to find a really beautiful graph on their Wiki page, colourfully highlighting who’s been there for how long and doing what. Very Germanic of them to do that, and I wish my various presentations were so nicely done in Powerpoint too.
Dubioza Collective seem to have been promoted from the World Music Stage to one of the ‘almost-World Music feel good’ afternoon slots of the Dan Panaitescu Main Stage, while Rudimental will cater to more electronic sensibilities on the same stage, whereas the Arena, usually quite a bit off my Sziget track, will be welcoming Nervo and the man who once made my evening at VOLT considerably more miserable than I’d planned: it’s the cake thrower extraordinaire, Steve Aoki himself.
In extremely stark contrast to the gentleman above, and probably the biggest name of this line up release, is none else than PJ Harvey. Because I need to underline just how horrible I am, I will moan here about how I like her previous album Let England Shake much more than last year’s The Hope Six Demolition Project but that does not change the fact that she’s one of the names I was very much hoping to play the island come summer. George Ezra missed out on unleashing his Budapest ear candy on Sziget’s loving audience three years ago, when he only made it to a Budapest Essentials club gig, but he can compensate for that this time around, with The Naked and Famous also returning to Budapest after their A38 concert and The Strypes taking in the capital after their VOLT concert, of which I remember not much, because Arctic Monkeys played the same day and all else was pretty irrelevant.
The A38 line up will also be enriched with several names I’m not thoroughly familiar with, and will therefore try to pin them down by random trivia I found in the vast informational oceans of the Internet: De Staat (are Dutch), Andy C (supports West Ham United), Anne-Marie (sang with Jesse J when she was 12), Watsky (played Shakespeare in an Epic Rap Battle), Nothing but Thieves (were a support act to Muse), Léon (is NOT the 1996 German entrant to Eurovision), Bear’s Den (traveled across the US in Campervans, information unavailable as to whether they slept in actual bear’s dens along the way), Chef’Special (appeared in unpronounceable Dutch TV show), Valentino Khan (has a rather suspicious mustache), Rone (had a song on the soundtrack of Hungarian indie hit For Some Inexplicable Reason) and Weval (surprise, they are also Dutch). (Also, where are the Belgians, for the love of God, we need some Belgians too.)
PS: Yes, some of these names will be in the guinea pigging post to drop later this year. Do stay tuned.