Sziget one of Europe's finest summer music festivals

Sziget Festival 2010 review

published: Fri 20th Aug 2010

Muse

Wednesday 11th to Monday 16th August 2010
Budai-sziget, an island in the Danube, Budapest, Hungary, Hungary
camping ticket £150; non-camping ticket £125
last updated: Wed 4th Aug 2010

It's been another successful year for Sziget Festival as it continues to cement its place as one of Europe's finest summer music festivals. The now-traditional 'Day -1' kicked off on Monday, 9th August, with local Hungarian artists Esti Kornél and Kispál és a Borz warming up the Main Stage for its busy week ahead. For the latter this was a farewell performance, and they will surely be missed by their hoards of Hungarian followers. Day 0, which is only open to campers, gave the non-campers a little more to be envious of with the likes of Toots and the Maytals, The Wailers, and UB40 performing on the Main Stage. While reggae ruled the main stage to commemorate Bob Marley's 60th birthday, another tribute was held on the World Music stage; this one for Tamás Cseh, a beloved Hungarian singer-songwriter who passed away earlier this year.

around the festival site
Wednesday, August 11, the first official day of Sziget. All of a sudden the projected figure of over 350,000 visitors has meaning. As the masses filled every corner of Budapest's Hajogyári Sziget (Shipyard Island), the most international day on the Main Stage--with a total of four countries being represented--began. First up was American shock rock act, GWAR. Perhaps the most ridiculous band to ever grace Sziget (with members by the names of Beefcake the Mighty and Jizmak da Gusha, for example), GWAR got the Day 1 crowd going with an energetic and outlandish performance including the songs 'Bring Back the Bomb' and 'Immortal Corruptor'.

Moving back over to the right side of the pond, British punk rock trio The Toy Dolls were up next. While the energy levels were high throughout the show, Michael Algar and co seemed to get the most out of the crowd with the classics 'Nellie the Elephant' and 'Idle Gossip'. The odd, yet familiar mixture of jumping, screaming, moshing, and dancing continued on as Spanish ska greats Ska-P entered the stage. Returning after a very successful gig on the same stage in 2009, the Spaniards put on another colourful and entertaining performance with the hit 'Cannabis' being the standout track.

The Hives
Sweden's The Hives came on just before sundown, returning to Hungary after a small hiatus. Sweet-talking Pelle Almqvist had the crowd in the palm of his hand as the garage rock outfit banged out some of their most energetic tunes, amongst them 'Walk Idiot Walk', 'Tick Tick Boom', and 'Die, All Right!' as well as some promo stuff for their upcoming album.

Headlining Day 1 were 70's ska legends Madness. The Londoners brought back many memories for the veteran festival goers and managed to pleasantly surprise the younger generations of the audience with their stage presence and vigour, and upbeat tunes such as 'Our House' and 'Night Boat to Cairo'.

Bad Religion
Other mentionable acts from Day 1 include Finnish metal group Children Of Bodom, who performed on the MTV Headbangers' Ball Stage; American punk rockers Bad Religion who shook the A38-Wan2 Stage, and Dutch DJ Sander van Doorn who lit up the Party Arena.

Day 2 of Sziget 2010 was to be dominated by British groups, but it was German rap gang K.I.Z. who got the ball rolling. Admittedly, they weren't too popular with most of the crowd, but there were enough proud Germans around to make them feel quite at home.

This year's Sziget festival has seen a transition from those of the past years with a decrease in the number of big name indie and new rock bands and a rise in the number of electronic and house music performances. Symbolic of this change are British electronica artists The Young Punx. They may not have been everyone's cup of tea but they did manage to get the crowd moving by the time they hit 'Your Music is Killing Me'.

Next up were Sex Pistols spin-off group Public Image Ltd. This was definitely a more familiar sound to most ears with timeless tunes such as '(This is not a) Love Song' and 'Public Image' entertaining the tens of thousands under the punishing August sun. The penultimate act of the day was 70's sensation The Specials. Another noteworthy change this year's festival has experienced is a boost in the number of ska acts; The Specials are the third of this kind on the Main Stage alone, and the sun has barely set for the second time on Sziget 2010. The sheer numbers of the band are enough to draw a lot of attention to them, and the music didn't hurt either. They blasted smoothly through their myriad of albums with such oldies as 'It's Up to You' and 'Do the Dog'.

Faithless
Closing Day Britain at Sziget was dance trio Faithless. Playing after sundown really helped set the mood for Maxi Jazz as he mesmerised the masses with 'Insomnia' and 'Mass Destruction'. The 90-minute set was nothing short of breathtaking and no less so than last year's showing. Disappointingly, at the same time, the MTV Headbangers' Ball Stage was being occupied by the Finland-based The 69 Eyes.

Day 3 brought more ska, this time in the form of underground Belarusian group Lyapis Trubetskoy on the Main Stage. With all due respect to the former Eastern Bloc ska punks, the day really started when Papa Roach hit the stage. The Californian rock veterans put on quite a show, despite the modest time slot they were given. You just can't go wrong with hits like 'Getting Away with Murder' and 'Scars'. Heading over to the MTV Headbangers' Ball Stage, Enter Shikari gave their usual 110% in an emphatic performance of pure post-hardcore rock.

Britain's sole source of representation on the Main Stage on Day 3 was Mika. Unfortunately, he failed to connect with the Sziget crowd despite the limited momentum he gained from 'Relax, Take It Easy' and 'Grace Kelly'.

Thirty Seconds To Mars
Thirty Seconds To Mars were the main attraction of Day 3 and were last up on the Main Stage. The show they put on was, much like front man Jared Leto's acting, impeccable. An hour and a half seemed like half an hour as they flew through their three albums with the highlights being 'The Kill' and 'A Beautiful Lie', both from the album of the same name as the latter.

On to Day 4 with Italian electro-rockers Subsonica, who warmed up the crowd for The Cribs. The Yorkshiremen entered the Main Stage in the late afternoon and dominated the island from start to finish with, among many other hits, 'Mirror Kissers' and 'Men's Needs'. The following act was perhaps the highlight of the week for many locals as Hungarian heavy metal group Tankcsapda took to the stage. Their 20+ years of experience helped them easily sail through their many albums (over a dozen) while connecting with the crowd, Hungarians and non-Hungarians alike.

Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden is arguably the biggest band to visit Sziget this year, and undoubtedly many campers spent the week for the sole purpose of seeing them. They took to the stage, accompanied as usual by Eddie, with 'The Wicker Man'. The band's never-ending youthfulness showed once again as they never showed signs of letting up throughout the whole performance. Obviously, songs like 'Number of the Beast' and 'Wrathchild' brought out the most craziness from the fans as the whole island seemed to shake under their jumping and stomping.

As the last of the partiers retreated to their tents for the second to last time this year, the final day of Sziget Festival had begun. To start the day off were Canadians Danko Jones, and Billy Talent. While this does sound like some sort of duet, the two names mentioned are actually a trio and a foursome, respectively. Danko Jones (incidentally also the lead singer's name) were up first and hit the stage hard, getting the crowd surfers going and the pits up and running. Crowd favourites appeared to be 'Lovercall' and 'Baby Hates Me.' Billy Talent entered the stage next and Ben Kowalewicz was all over the stage as usual. Climbing on the amps and running into the crowd; the small-dimensioned front man made himself huge, screaming his lungs out with 'Devil in a Midnight Mass' and 'Red Flag'.

Kasabian
Closing out the last hours of this year's festival were two alternative rock giants. Kasabian came on just before 20:00 and immediately started rocking with 'Shoot the Runner'. What ensued was a no-nonsense performance which brought out what makes Kasabian so great in its simplicity with songs such as 'Club Foot' and 'Lost Souls Forever'.

Headlining for the week was Muse. Considered by many as the best rock band of the new millennium, and by some of all time; Matt, Chris, and Dominic impressed immediately with 'Uprising' out of their latest album. The vibrant and futuristic backdrop set the tone for another over-the-top performance typical of the Devon trio. However, this set was to be quite a disappointment. Unlike the opening song, most of the rest of the set was rather a letdown in terms of the band's energy. Among the broken Hungarian words uttered by Matt here and there and the flat performances of songs such as 'Hysteria' and 'Stockholm Syndrome', many fans were left feeling a bit empty, like Muse had a bit more to offer but didn't tonight. Still, even on a mediocre night, the strength of a Muse set cannot be ignored and all in all it was a fitting end to Sziget 2010.

Muse
review by: Ido Popper

photos by: Andy Zhang

Wednesday 11th to Monday 16th August 2010
Budai-sziget, an island in the Danube, Budapest, Hungary, Hungary
camping ticket £150; non-camping ticket £125
last updated: Wed 4th Aug 2010


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