A Tale of Two Franks: Best Concerts of Sziget 2019 Part One

It all began with me not really being able to tell the ‘two Sziget Franks’ apart, making silly jokes along the lines of the bands being called Frank Turner and the Sleeping Rattlesnakes and Frank Carter and the Rattled Souls. Then, absolutely out of the blue, a friend who’d loved Frank Turner very much passed away. She had traveled to Budapest to see them before, and we’d casually chatted that maybe next time we’d go to their concert together, without knowing there’d be no next time. So, I decided to make it to the Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls gig on Sziget, and stay for the whole thing, not weasel out for thrills and drinks, as you’re often bound to do at festivals, as a sort of personal tribute.

Little did I know that I wouldn’t have weaseled out anyway, for why would I leave such a happy place: the A38 tent was bursting with positive energy, everyone had big silly smiles on their faces. It was of course still day one and we were fresh and clean like fluffy ducklings just out of their shells, the onslaught of Ed Sheeran’s teenage army hours away, but that still doesn’t mean that any old concert would do. No, it was that here, on stage, was a very nice man. I need to capitalize that; Frank Turner is NICE. Thoroughly, almost old-fashionedly nice, like your best neighbour who will not only water your plants while away, but even talk to them to make sure they’re alright. He also happens to be a well-known musician, which very often dampens people’s niceness, but he has enough of it so as to remain fundamentally untouched.

Since I myself am not always very nice, I would by default frown at songs titled Don’t Worry or Be More Kind and dismiss them as positivist drivel. Yet it took Frank Turner and his band only about ten minutes to convince me that we do need positive messages (followed by positive actions). When meant with honesty, they’re not drivel but some sort of unexpected lifelines in a world that turns darker and darker and we need artists to remind us that perhaps not all is lost. My friend was one of the most hope filled and positive people I ever knew, I always envied her for that, and this concert felt in many ways as some sort of legacy, a message she passed on to me from beyond. (Speaking about messages from beyond, there’s this amazing piece the relentlessly amazing Nick Cave wrote about grief.)

Frank 2- this feels like one of those school dramas where one of two kids with the same name are branded number two, or little, and hate everyone for it, but I blame everything on the Sziget programmer who put them in this chronological order- was vaguely familiar to me. I assumed this must be due to the fact that he is ginger, and I just love ginger people, with some minor exceptions, not naming anyone having played on Sziget’s first day on the main stage here. Then one morning I was cleaning the house, which somehow again resulted in me reading through my old NME magazines instead of vacuum cleaning, as it always does, and discovered that he had been the front man of Gallows, one of those bands NME hyped for reasons beyond the understanding of general humanity. That’s it then, I said, and let it pass me by, since Gallows were always just a bit too brash for me.

Then a couple of days before the Sziget show, a random conversation (as a sidenote: random Sziget conversations are often unexpectedly illuminating) revealed that Frank Carter backs the Safe Gigs for Women initiative and is, by the description of my random conversation partner, another all around nice man, in spite of looking like the boyfriend from the nightmares of dads with teenage daughters (another sidenote+ fangirling here: I think he looks just as nice as he is).  Two nice Franks on one island, it felt almost too much. But I read up on the matter, and got ever more hyped about the gig, so much so that they became my highlight for Tuesday.

Imagine my disappointment then when, arriving at the main stage fifteen minutes before what I assumed would be the start of the concert, I found the spectacularly shirtless Carter organizing a women-only mosh pit. It turned out that the organizers had the afternoon gigs start half an hour early to enable the complicated preparations of the Twenty One Pilots gig. Suffice to say that, as I never liked them anyway, this was about the last nail in their coffin for me, though in all honesty I only have myself to blame for not double checking the app. I couldn’t stay angry for long though, because the Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes concert was everything they told me it would be, and more: there was the women only mosh pit and crowd surfing, there was talk of mental health and people seeking help when they feel their problems are overwhelming, there was a shout out to Carter’s band mate and best friend, Dean Richardson, and there was talk of Carter’s four year old daughter. And then there were the songs, many of which I’d heard for the first time, knowledge of the band’s back catalogue not being my forte. But it probably will be, and I regret being an ignorant for so long. Yes, it’s possible to have two thoroughly nice Franks on one island, and praised be the Gods of Sziget for that.

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