Everything but the Main Stage: Sziget 2017 Day Two

The Saturday Main Stage line up was blighted by two cancellations right in the run up to the festival (Rita Ora was replaced by Iggy Azalea and Clean Bandit by Galantis), yet it drew the largest crowd, close to the island’s full capacity. Locals who go out for only one day seemed to opt for this one, either because Macklemore and The Other Guy are huge in Hungary, or because they felt Sunday in bed is better to nurse a hangover than say Monday at the office poring over Excel sheets. Full understanding to the second category, none whatsoever to the first.

We thus had plentiful time to continue stamp hunting, and in the process visited the Travelling Funfair, where several Indian tourists with small children looked like they were having the time of their lives missing targets with various implements, further proof that Sziget really has something for everyone. In the classical music tent a children’s choir was singing the Do Re Mi song, while people were making cat masks in the museum area- this activity almost sucked me in, but then I remembered I can’t even cut along a straight line, so I moved on to the sports area, where other people with super powers were balancing on beams and such. Further good news: the Rabbi is still dispensing advice, though my rubbish athletic skills and non-existent dexterity might be even beyond his help.

The scarcity of interesting acts on the Main Stage was however compensated for by an intriguing line up in A38, which started with Lion Babe. I will honestly admit here that I had absolute zero knowledge about them, but 15 minutes into their being late I started suspecting they might be related to Rihanna. When they finally did show up, however, it turned out that the lead singer is much more into channeling Beyonce in a generally pleasant, but definitely not groundbreaking way. At this point the blog’s industrious co-photographer did however make a pit stop at the Main Stage, where he was drawn by those of Iggy Azalea’s assets which are not her voice, or her rapping, or her music.

Back in A38 it was time for The Strypes, whom we’d previously seen at VOLT opening for Arctic Monkeys, apparently hand picked by Alex Turner himself. The reasons are obvious: the boys have grown in the years that passed, ditched most of the teenage acne and are now in various stages of becoming Alex Turner or alternatively Matt Helders. The lead singer Ross Farelly goes as far as to morph turnerian mannerisms with a Miles Kane vibe of entertainment, and a bit of a Liam Gallagher style of delivery, while Pete O’Hanlon hugs the bass just as a gauche Alex did his guitar about a decade ago. They are obviously a bit raw still, and maybe too keen on resembling their heroes, but the sound and the delivery are there. Irish Arctic Monkeys? I’ll have one of those any time, thank you very much. Allow me to quickly also swoon over their accents, as Irish English has that awww factor of a box full of baby seals wrestling fluffy kittens.

By eight o’clock I had solidified back again and was ready for the decidedly less charming Manchester accents of The Courteeners. One of the infamous lot of `the bands` formed in the noughties, they’d always irked me with their name which I found pretentious. I thus never paid much attention to their records, which I now recognize as having probably been wrong: many songs were instantly catchy even without knowing them in advance. The positive vibe wasn’t broken by them messing up and restarting a song either- as a matter of fact I almost like such incidents. There’s a certain charm to live music that goes wrong and is then fixed, as opposed to pre-recorded bits being mixed together by a computer and starting at the push of a button.

Now to the headline slot- the blog’s industrious co-photographer made it to the Main Stage area around the Macklemore time slot, but he found both the Transylvanian food stand and two girls running in a wooden hamster wheel infinitely more interesting. As for Bad Religion in A38- they are perfectly alright, but about as far off my musical radar as Timbuktu is off Budapest. So I did it again, no regrets, and I don’t even feel bad about that Florin Salam song: I went to the Goran Bregović gig. Yes, the man is ubiquitous, it’s like he lives somewhere in walking distance of Budapest and pops in every time someone has a free slot for some world music, yes, he might have pilfered a tune from here and there, yes, he’s getting totally old (and looks a bit like my grandfather did). But I don’t care, and many others don’t either: his was the most frantic first row I’ve seen this festival and after jumping around for ninety minutes I suddenly did not feel bad about all the cardio I’m missing this week. You might call them cheap thrills, but just like Sia, I kind of like them. 

As I was walking back towards A38, no cares in the world- okay, I did care about where I could buy an Unikum, strictly for medical purposes, night getting chilly and all- I bumped into two very very angry young ladies screaming feminist slogans over techno beats. Rein is thus obviously from Sweden, and unexpectedly enjoyable. I should have perhaps stayed more at the Europe Stage, for my distrust of Crystal Fighters was not dispelled by this most recent gig either. They seem to be extremely cheerful people, super delighted to play upbeat, indie tinted and totally similar songs for as long as it is needed. It’s just that I need them for a maximum of say ten minutes, and then get terminally bored and start counting the feathers on their costumes, and when my patience runs out even for that, I simply head to the boat and miss GusGus so I can get an almost good night’s rest before the Sunday.

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