Preamble. Almost front row of the Biffy Clyro gig, girl asks boy who knows all the lines to the songs: Are you Scottish? He answers: Yes, almost Scottish! Girl: What does that mean?! Boy: I am French! Girl: So cool! Your take away being that all the differences that we grapple with in our daily lives suddenly become negligible when on Sziget.
But let us rewind to the first concert of the day, which was Tom Odell on the Main Stage. Yes, we did make a late start, and you’re getting another useful take away here: if you want to survive the island mostly unscathed and see (almost) all the concerts you planned, you need to carefully juggle days when you come later but stay longer with days when you come early but leave before the night gets crazy. Alternatively, you’ll be the person sleeping through a loud dub step performance at 2 AM, which might have its charms, I just can’t figure out what they are.
Right, I lost my train of thought a little here, back to Tom. Well Tom is groupie bait, and has one song on my Cleaning the House Playlist, which is a collection of pleasant but not intrusive tracks which make the dusting of shelves feel like a good idea. I thus kind of had the urge to clean a table during Another Love, but refrained myself while musing on the fact that time flies. The way I reached this unheard of conclusion is that the groupies, who were mostly the same flower wreath bedecked faces for the past few years have now changed, and there’s a new generation plastered to the fences.
Sic transit gloria mundi, as they say (forever thankful to my Latin teacher for making me learn all these fancy phrases which make me seem much smarter than I am). No existential angst is left uncured by a good special party though, and yesterday we got to wiggle giant beach balls. Also, fast forward to the Vaccines gig in A38 and the irresponsible Arsenal fan who decided that the one spot in the whole tent where he should aim his beach ball is my espresso. I have seen you and can promise that the Charity Shield is the last trophy you’ll win this season.
Back to wonderfully tattooed and spectacularly sweaty Scottish men in yoga pants alternating between delicate pop and angry riffs. That’s Biffy Clyro, as you’ve correctly guessed and I can happily confirm that I am on the right course to finally getting them. Bubbles is one of the craziest festival zingers out there, and while the delicate pop part might have dampened the spirits about midway into the performance, this was the first genuinely exciting show happening on the Main Stage. (Pink, take notes: no need for two dozen dancers and pyrotechnics when you can have a ginger man in leggings instead.)
I must have done something between Biffy and the Vaccines, but frankly it’s all a blur, which is made worse by the fact that I only had one measly spritzer all day. Or well, that might be the problem. All this while the blog’s industrious co-photographer had been a busy bee and visited a good many stages. The Europe Stage, where he saw a wildly entertaining band he though were either Dutch or Israeli but turned out to be Nemo from Switzerland. The World Music Stage, were he got acquainted with local folk staple Kerekes Band and concluded that they are wildly entertaining too, albeit in a totally different genre. And the Main Stage, where Wiz Khalifa left him cold as ice- some expletives were actually uttered but we’ll try to keep this a family friendly blog.
It was an odd feeling to trot into A38 only on the fourth day of being on the island, but it did feel like home. Your overhot, dusty, infernally loud home, filled with people who might or might not sabotage your beverage, but home nevertheless. The Vaccines fit into this picture perfectly- the promise who later turned into the great indie band that never was, they are nevertheless a joyful time capsule for a certain generation and delivered their hits with considerable aplomb. Bonus points for their lead making the fashion statement of the night: Adidas tracksuit bottoms are not only for squatting Slavs.
Next up in A38 was Alex Clare, who fits into the acts I cannot get category. He also, rather ridiculously for a gentle looking man wearing the ritual fringes of Orthodox Jews, viciously dropped the bass so much so that I felt my left kidney being projected out of my body and into the night. (For those complaining about the general quality of sound in A38: I get it, but the Vaccines sounded awesome, so yes some people can.) My only take away from the concert is that I collaterally found out that Alex had dated Amy Winehouse, and this made him seem even more incongruous.
Incongruous is also the right word for the beautiful UFO which arrived straight from Russia right into the Budapest night. Oligarkh combine traditional, often religious, Russian music with pretty much every modern musical genre you can think of, topping it all with a rather subversive visual montage. The island’s Russian contingent was thus plentifully present in spite of the late hour, yet I kept getting the eerie feeling that the majority couldn’t quite place this band who’d they come to see on patriotic accounts. I must confess to having a rather conflicted relationship with Russian culture myself- so many shadows, but also, so many lights. And just every now and then they hit this unexpected bulls-eye that you cannot help but love.