Let us be honest: voices have been around whispering that this year’s Sziget, especially given that it’s an anniversary edition, has a weaker line up than it should, or could have had. Several possible reasons have been mentioned, such as the change in ownership, the passing of Dan Panaitescu, previously the festival’s main booker, or the generally unfortunate state of this summer’s festival circuit (Ed Sheeran at Glasto is a sad never forget moment.)
While there might be a grain of truth in this, I must however quote the mighty Talk Talk here: life’s what you make it. And so is Sziget. Look closely, and great things will appear in the line up. Leading by example, here is the list of ten performances that make me giddy with expectation, and might pique your interest too.
The Big Bang. Kasabian as headliners. They have been to Sziget plenty of times, and results may have varied, but a headline slot was long overdue, and judging by their usually raucous performances at UK festivals, it should be a blast. Kasabian, Friday August 11, 21:30 Main Stage
The Gloomy Sundays. Sziget generally has great weather, especially when compared to its murky UK competitors.The organizers must have thus thought that cooling off to some moody indie is exactly what one needs on the already taxing fifth day, and have the Metronomy and White Lies lined up, ready to serve up some sleek angst and uplifting angst (it exists!) respectively. Metronomy, Sunday August 13, 16:00 Main Stage and White Lies, Sunday August 13, 17:45 Main Stage
Kate Moss’s Husband. I’m just reveling here in being able, for once, to call a man somebody’s husband, as opposed to so many women being somebody’s wives. Because The Kills are frankly great- an indie rock duo who don’t just look the part, but also sound like it too, and I am always delighted by things which are in perfect harmony with themselves. The Kills, Tuesday August 15, 16:00 Main Stage
The Indie Priestess. Someone who began her career in 1988 could have very well been sinking into irrelevance by now, but PJ Harvey’s two recent albums have been perhaps her best. She’s no nostalgia act then, but an artist arriving to Sziget at the height of her powers. Given that she’s up before Kasabian on Friday, we have also successfully identified the strongest day Main Stage wise. PJ Harvey, Friday August 11, 19:30 Main Stage
The Second Coming. There was a time, which included ALT-J’s previous Sziget performance as well, when I was stupidly immune to the charms of this nerdiest of indie acts. I have in the meantime seen the light, and ALT-J have also released a third album (it’s called Relaxer and it’s quirky and superb). Three albums is the exact amount I have decided is needed for a band to sustain a festival show packed with ’hits’, so I’ll be honest and admit the second coming is the thing I most look forward to this year, which is somehow logical, after all. ALT-J, Tuesday August 15, Main Stage 19:30.
The Enigma. Just as I once did not get ALT-J, I still do not get Mac DeMarco. Everyone is totally enamoured with him these days, his albums are slapped with five star reviews by the most diverse press outlets, and I am just sitting there and wondering where has my life, and understanding of music, gone wrong. Perhaps a live show will prove perception altering- I am both feeling that’s highly unlikely and looking forward to it at the same time. Mac DeMarco, Monday August 14, OTP/A38 Stage 22:00.
The New Kid on the Block. Vince Staples is as far away from New Kids on the Block as one can imagine- and that’s a totally grand thing, mind you. He is however one of the acts which I identified as showing a lot of promise during my yearly Sziget guinea-pigging, and I will therefore stay true to my beliefs and check out the live show as well, which comes straight after Mac DeMarco incidentally. So Monday seems to be the day of new discoveries and new beginnings, which is indeed a very Monday thing to do. Vince Staples, Monday, August 14, OTP/A38 Stage 23:45
The Chilling in the Dead of Night. I must obviously engage in a remote, fruitless and one sided argument with the Sziget programmer yet again, or I would not be me. Why on earth have Tycho play at 1:30?! People will either be too hyped or too tired, or scarily, both. This being said, I missed them in Akvárium, because stupid (another thing I do often), and have logically been listening to them extensively ever since, so no programming quirk will stop me this time. Tycho, Sunday, August 13, OTP/A38 Stage, 01:30.
The Very Obvious. Left it last, just because there is absolutely no question that I’ll be swooning over Interpol again (unbeknownst to them, proud holders of my Best Sziget Concert of 2015 title), this time with the extra incentive of their playing the entirety of the seminal Turn On the Bright Lights, which, ridiculously, unbelievably and frighteningly, turns 15 this year. Interpol, Tuesday, May 15, OTP/A38 Stage, 23:45
For those eager to make further discoveries, the full programme of the festival is available HERE.