Best Concerts of Sziget 2017 #10: Oligarkh

Every Sziget must have at least one UFO type of experience, which involves a less known band playing some crazy musical genre on a small stage, at an ungodly hour, to a flabbergasted audience gathered around a nucleus of die-hard fans. That’s another might of Sziget: no matter how obscure an act, someone somewhere on the island will love them, know the lyrics and make the effort to check them out irrespective of the hour or venue. In all honestly, the heroes of our present piece were not the only such experience of this festival, and we might at some point return to tell you more about the surreal evening we spent with the Pierce Brothers on the MusicBox stage.

Returning to Oligarkh though, I will now attempt to describe them. They are Russian and there’s three of them. The drummer has a shock of hair and fringe which generally obscures his vision, thus his drumming is most likely guided by the Holy Spirit. The young lad manning the keyboards has the wholesome face of a swimmer who qualified seventh for the freestyle final and will perhaps finish sixth. (I belong to a generation to whom the epitome of swimming will forever be Alexander Popov and thus it is with great chagrin that I notice that all the later Russian output is of the kind I just described above.) Finally, there’s a stern looking bearded gentleman, somewhat like those possessed monks of Russian literature and not only (insert Rasputin here), compelling a Mac into immediate confession and repentance.

If you notice many religious overtones, be not surprised: the main trait of the band is the liberal mingling of Orthodox religious chants and Russian folk tunes with an eclectic mix of electronic genres, sometimes veering towards more ambient vibes, sometimes bordering on drum’n bass. The performance is further spiced by a series of visuals, which have been correctly described by someone more articulate than myself as ‘intriguing and immersive’. The result is that you suddenly realize that you can’t take your eyes off what could have been a standard show of electronic music with knob fiddlers and it doesn’t matter anymore that it is ridiculously late, you are ridiculously tired, have eaten probably too much weird food in weird sequences. Also, there’s a sweaty Russian man, generously imbued in alcohol, parked on your pinky toe.

Speaking of which- I had a constant impression that a big section of the numerous Russian public was a bit confused when it came to making sense of what they were offered on stage. Oh, lovely our compatriots are playing in the dead of night, let’s go there, Holy Mother of God what is this?! They were probably not alone, but the crowd nevertheless kept swelling in front of the Europe Stage. For the crazy thing about all these disparate ingredients is that they function together like clockwork- it’s as if the random film snippet, the bass and the somber chant of a monk were always meant to come together and create the loveliest of UFOs on Sziget’s night sky


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