Text by – GIUSEPPE ORIGO
Translation by – JULIA PERRY
In recent years, one of the most crucial links between art and audience has been experiencing perhaps one of its darkest periods yet: the “festival” is in crisis.
One after the other, on both national and European scales, titans and sacred names such as the Heineken Jammin’ Festival, Gods of Metal, Rock In Idro, as well as their Spanish colleagues, Sonar and Primavera Sound, have slowly started closing their curtains, postponing their opening days more and more every year, in hopes that over time, the lamb will hopefully fatten up, and business will start up again.
A disturbing mix concerning an economic crisis, provincialism, mismanagement on both a central and local level, and franticly rhythmic bureaucracies, a scenario that’s artistically short-sighted and, from a managerial perspective, distancing itself from the summer scene that has for so long stood as prime time for music festivals and is slowly fading away.
Fortunately, this is not the case when it comes to full-blown excellence, like that of the Hungarian Sziget, that, if not the best, definitely stands on the podium of the most successful mass music events, taking place on the Island of Óbudai-sziget in Budapest.
Since 1993, the event has evolved and exponentially grown from year to year. Created as a festival for youth and unfamiliar local artists, Sziget now has more than 60 stages and its participation, over the course of time, of LITERALLY anyone, now means: more than 1000 individual performances come to life every edition of the festival that is not only bounded by music, following the good ol’ “Woodstockian” format, but expands to include theater, video projections, DJ-sets, dance, circus acts and street performers as well as sporting events.
If the overly used “multimedia” concept has ever really found its identity and concretization, it’s embedded in Sziget, a melting pot of cultures and a culture in itself, that seems to know no crisis but only a total increase in virtuosity, not only from an economic standpoint, but, remains true to the real meaning of cultural promotion in terms of both human and artistic value added.
With an estimated 370 thousand audience in its last year… and in the year before it… crisis?
An example of excellent management and unbelievable musical supply, spanning across every genre and subgenre imaginable, with musical giants alongside newcomers for a show that encompasses passion on a 360-degree spectrum.
Yes, but so what? What about this year? We’re talking about a phenomenon that has been going on since 1993, yet still keeping in mind that in this 2014, the presence of music festivals is not as strong as before, making it only natural to ask… is Sziget also following in the footsteps of the many other festivals that have been scaling back on quality and performance?
No. Absolutely not.
And to demonstrate that, here are only a few of the acts confirmed up to this date to perform: The Prodigy, Queens of the Stone Age, Blink 182, Korn, Nofx, Skrillex, Outkast, Deadmay3, Placebo, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Calvin Harris, Madness, Caparezza, The Bloody Beetroots, Stromae, London Grammar, Imagine Dragons.
And this is only in reference to its music…
And only referencing the biggest acts that will be present…
Sziget, once again, laughs in the face of the sad, yet widespread, concept that the multi-genre festival is doomed to failure, by yet again, offering a cutting-edge program that plays among the different musical “races”: not trying to merely give a taste, but aiming towards the satisfaction of a full stomach.
A week of madness, as simple as that.
Getting there and participating isn’t at all difficult, and everything you need to know can be found here: http://it.szigetfestival.com/_/info/informazioni_generali
So, with backpack in hand, double check that you have everything necessary in order to pitch a tent, pegs included. Only one thing can haunt and mark you as intensely as the awareness of having experienced a week in the paradise of the arts: and that’s the regret of not having done so.
Budapest – Hungary
11 – 18 August 2014
Info and costs: www.szigetfestival.com