So this thing looks like getting a bit out of control: I started with a top 5, which then grew into a top 10 and this year I realized I do have 15 Sziget concerts I can put in some sort of an almost logical order. I hope myself that this will not evolve into an all concerts of Sziget rated from best to worst undertaking, because that is basically impossible without time travel and dimensional gates. Though on an island where a portaloo leads to a party perhaps you shouldn’t be surprised if another one leads to a parallel realm of existence.
It might also be strange that the jump to 15 comes in a year when the line up was actually one of the pain points of the festival for many, the organizers themselves admitting they were unlucky with some acts not being able to make it. Nevertheless, looking back at it now, it seems to have been, if definitely not vintage, but not a bad year after all. What was perhaps missing is an absolutely mind blowing performance that would set a standard- but such performances are, must be, few and far in between, not only for Sziget, but for any festival in general.
So let’s see where we stand then- at 15 we find The Vaccines, of whom I did not expect much, to be honest. They always ranked as a fairly non-determinate ‘the band’, and one that did jump on the bandwagon pretty late, namely in 2010, when the first important ‘the bands’ were either turning classic, or fading into oblivion. Their debut album, What Did You Expect from The Vaccines had a title which somehow seemed a trick borrowed from the debut Arctic Monkeys record, only the Monkey pun was way better. They duly had one hit I would always recognize, Post Break-Up Sex, you guessed right, and then for long periods of time I totally forgot they existed.
I do however like to consider checking out all indie acts as my sacred duty on the island, and thus flocked to A38 on the first evening of it being in action. I planned to stay a little, see what’s what, then perhaps grab a beer and exit through the back door, because the band’s not so nice and I’m not having a good time. Only I did have a jolly good time, and most definitely wasn’t alone at it. The Vaccines themselves seemed to be enjoying the evening as well, and that definitely helps proceedings along. Lead singer Justin, sporting a superb Adidas tracksuit bottom paired with sunglasses totally justified by the dim lights of the tent, kept patrolling the stage with the kind of energy that does make the better Vaccines songs stand out in their genre.
I kept my concentration even when they hit tunes from their most recent album, which had definitely landed off my radar, and of which a couple of tracks have in the meantime been added to my regular playlist. A great triumph for the Vaccines, and the concert category ‘no expectations, surprising outcome’. (The opposite of this is to surface on the list later, just keeping you in a state of total tension here.)