In case you assume there is no pride in being awake at 3 AM on Sziget, as in really awake, coordinated, knowing where your keys are and what was the name of your first favourite plush toy, well you’re wrong. Some might say that there is no fun in having all your senses intact at such an ungodly hour at a festival, but upon seeing several of my fellow humans writhe on the ground on the brink of turning into earth worms I must conclude that knowing your way home and being able to absolve it with minimal wobbling is the key to a long and healthy life.
Being plastered would have been a double pity, as the day’s last concert (or better said, Monday’s first) happened to be one of the best as well. Rather unpleasantly scheduled at half past one, Tycho came and, as much as you can do that in such earth-wormy circumstances, conquered. There is an obvious risk in playing instrumental rock ambient at a festival, but there was an elemental energy in the music which kept most people in A38 staunchly on their feet, eyes glued to the visuals and, ridiculously enough, engaged in occasional dancing.
Before Tycho we’d also discovered that there’s a new tribe vying for the dubious laurels of loudest and most absurdly populous gang of Sziget: seemingly the entire North Island of New Zealand flocked to A38 for local darlings The Naked and Famous. The party vibe was thus plentifully there, and the band’s upbeat electro complimented it perfectly. I did however find lead singer Alisa’s voice a bit shrill towards the end- a case of it’s not her, it’s me as I have always been horrified by high pitched voices. I you want to send me through all the nine circles of hell within a couple of minutes, just make me listen to a soprano.
Thankfully I’d previously engaged in several relaxational activities, such as a visit to the Sziget Beach area, which this year, probably due to the stricter pillow rental rules, looks less dissolute than last, when towards the end of the festival it felt pretty much like the last refuge of humanity after the nuclear holocaust. Concert wise, we’d checked out Allah-Las, who are really absolutely wonderful as background, yoga or elevator music but ultimately failed to keep me connected for an entire concert. They do seem to have a rather religious following though (their A38 club show was sold out) which makes me wonder what exactly are those people treating themselves to before heading out to the show. I’d also done my patriotic duty and checked out Greetings Sugar on the Europe Stage, who already score highly as I can actually tell their tracks apart, which seems like a little thing at first, but is perhaps not that easy to pull off after all.
I can’t say much about the day’s headliners, either Main Stage or A38-wise, except that they must have been there, because a queue of desperate souls was waiting at the backstage exit of the tent for The Pretty Reckless lead singer Taylor Momsen. I certainly hope she did provide them with the coveted autographs, for otherwise they would have had such a rotten evening waiting for nothing as the chill descended on the island. I did however inspect a couple of songs at the Hurts gig and can safely conclude that they are getting worse each time I see them: yesterday’s effort sounded basically like the discarded sessions of the Euro dance act who finished third in the Belorussian Eurovision pre-selection.
Before Hurts there had been a birthday party for Sziget’s 25 years, which naturally included confetti, silly hats and evidence that there are very few things in the world people won’t do for free candy. I am however still uncertain about both the necessity and the skills of the MCs animating these sessions of merriment. Next time one of them screams out are there any Hungarians here the right answer would perhaps be no, they’ve all moved to Malawi to escape your jokes.
I had really wanted to love the White Lies gig- they’ve always been one of my personal indie darlings and I take great pleasure in following them on Instagram for, among other things, book recommendations and glimpses into Harry McVeigh’s impeccable take on cool casualwear. (Like the red socks he flashed at the Sziget show, yes, mentioning them is of paramount importance.) There was however something subdued in the affair, something not matching the gloomy elation of their music, a slight feeling that, while they’re being perfectly professional and even enjoying the show, their heart’s just not fully in it.
They didn’t even have a backdrop, just a band logo on the drums: there is nothing wrong in lo-fi every now and then, but the original White Lies sound is perhaps not the best match for it. I still love them, of course, and will say that this was a good, if not mind blowing performance. I also almost got stepped upon by a subsequently apologetic looking man who was most likely Daniel Brühl himself, presently shooting The Alienist in Budapest. Needless to say, later in the day I was glued to the White Lies Instagram stories: they stayed behind and checked out several concerts, and professing a love of Hurts convinced me yet again that Harry is an absurdly nice man who was good words even for hopeless cases.
Earlier in the afternoon French band Her had been the most pleasant discovery of the day: while even on record they sound slick, a crafty and very French amalgamation of many genres, they’re one of those fortunate acts who manage to add an extra spark to their live shows.Meanwhile, the blog’s industrious co-photographer was on patriotic duty himself, checking out Gaye Su Akyol on the World Music stage. The harem meets super heroine vibe of the visual evidence of his visit makes us suspect the show must have been worth the effort, but he must definitely hone his musical criticism skills, as he managed to describe the undertaking as Turkish music.
Finally, we have reached the beginning of the day. It was a Zing burger and it was delicious, in spite of the fact that we could only get it after witnessing a rudeness contest between a French szitizen and a Hungarian waiter, though it was somewhat unclear whether either or both were being mean, or simply couldn’t speak English well enough. Actually, though, I’d meant Metronomy as the final-first event of the day (see what I did here). They did however turn out to be one of those bands who sound great in theory and on record.
However, due to a mind-boggling tendency to go all jam session-y live, or at least on Sunday afternoons when they can dispense sunscreen advice- of which we approve-they end up sounding, I will reach the epitome of eloquence and precision here, whatever. But at least I’ll always have the burger.