Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Sziget Festival On Film

Once upon a time, Elena and Angela said that it would be so cool if they ever got to go to Sziget Festival in Budapest. And one month ago, they did. And it was as amazing as they thought it would be. Okay, dramatic third-person storytelling aside, it was quite literally the best 5 days of my life. And, being the hipster wannabe that I am, I bought a disposable camera to capture random moments from that trip. Here's the result of that + me obsessing and word-vomiting all over your screens, so grab a cup of coffee, a snack, and come with me on this magical journey called "everything nobody wanted to know, but I'm gonna share it anyway because I want to".

I still can't gather my first impressions upon entering the festival. It was a wonderful mix of being overwhelmed, in awe, a bit scared, and really excited. Just imagine: you're greeted by the famous bridge with the "Welcome" flags in different languages that you see all over Instagram (btw, the bridge itself is actually quite small in person haha), you get in line to pass the metal detectors, and you're in. And you have no idea where to go first because you're thrown into a pit of endless possibilities and choices. Should I check out the main stage first? Or maybe go to the circus? How about the cinema, or the Luminarium? We didn't get to visit everything as it is quite impossible, but what we did see blew us away.

Our first day started out with a bang. Ever since I started listening to The 1975 a few years ago, I've been thinking how cool it would be to see them live. And when they were announced to perform, I think I screamed a little bit. Their performance was everything I expected, and more. The stage set up was so so cool, they get mad props from me for that because I really appreciate it when I see that a lot of thought was put into making something the best it can be. Just imagine the iconic simple frame from their album covers + a lot of pink, purple and blue lighting. Matty's vocals were on point and he was quite entertaining when he wasn't singing as well. It just all adds up to the experience. When they started performing Somebody Else, guys, that's when I lost it. This song marks a part of my life and when I listen to it I get flashbacks of all the emotions and things I was dealing with at the time, and it was such a surreal experience to sing along with the band that made that magical song.

I've been having an ongoing obsession with Mura Masa for about two years now, and when I found out he was performing I lost my shit. Words can't explain how excited I was for his performance. So, Angela and I dragged ourselves in the 40+ degree Celsius weather at 4 PM and got in the front of the stage for the best view. He was soooo so good, I think I temporarily lost my voice from screaming and singing along like a lunatic. Plus, on the screen behind him were the awesome animations and graphics from his iconic music videos which I am obsessed with. The only thing I disliked was that one of the singers used autotune when performing some of the songs and it was a bit distracting, but when you're in the moment it's easy to not pay attention to that detail.

Son Lux and James Blake had performances one after the other and I think that might be the smartest line-up choice ever made. I was blown away by both of them and the overall mood on that stage was the fucking best ever. I knew Son Lux were going to be good because... I mean... when you make a song like Easy how can you not be. However, I was definitely not expecting to have goosebumps from the start to the end of their set. Listening to Easy live definitely goes onto my "moments I'll never forget" list, and if you've ever listened to them perform I know you'll agree. They're just one of those bands that sound 10 times better live than on record, and that says a lot about the quality of the artist. And then, James Blake gave us A SHOW. And it was a show in the calmest, not crazy nor over-the-top type of way. It was just him and his two bandmates sitting and playing instruments. Like I said, nothing crazy. But, I truly felt like I was a part of their jam session, like it's just the three of them in the studio, making music and having fun. At one point they just straight-up started playing techno for a solid 10-minute interval and I was both confused and amazed at the same time. And everything just flowed so nicely, so calm and relaxing. Plus, the stage itself was inside a tent, and it was smaller and more intimate than the main stage, which definitely added to the overall mood. After those two performances, Angela and I were quite practically speechless, and they are definitely in my top 5 performances from the whole festival. 

The fourth day was definitely the craziest. The day was jam-packed with artists we really wanted to see all back to back, so we made a plan, and got our butts on the boiling hot train heading to the Sziget island at 3 PM. That day included watching artists such as IAMDDB, Masego (yes, Tadow was as good live as you would think it is), Honne, Post Malone, who had a really cool performance, and the band I was most excited to see from the whole festival line-up - Years & Years.

I think people don't quite understand me when I say I love Years and Years. I. Love. Them. I was absolutely gutted when they performed at EXIT festival in 2017 and I wasn't able to go, but I made a promise to myself that I must see them live at least once in my life. I've never screamed so much in my life, I think the people around me came to an "Elena singing Y&Y songs" concert. Olly was a sweetheart, as expected, and he was amazing. The stage set-up was super cool as well, with their signature Palo Santo, tribal look. They performed both new and old songs, and I can't explain the feeling when Desire came up. That's the first song I listened from them and I legit got teary-eyed. I danced my butt off and went to bed very, veeery happy that night.

I have to mention the real-life fairy herself, miss Florence Welch. Her stage presence was out of this world and she sounds identical to all of her records, which is something quite rare nowadays. But the best part was definitely when she would speak in between songs, her voice was so soft and, again, like a real fairy.

The island itself is huge. Like, "map in hand if you want to reach specific locations" type of huge. There is a stage dedicated to literally every type of music, as well as little impromptu stages as we liked to call them, where DJs just play music and you feel like you're at a club or something. The paying system is quite simple, with a contactless top-up system on your entrance bracelet. The prices of food and drinks vary, but I wouldn't say it's overly expensive (but still, eating beforehand is always better). There are also a lot of different activities you can take part in, so basically, from the moment you step foot on the island, you won't have time to get bored.

(camping tips not included since I didn't camp)

1. Wear shoes that you can bear parting with

2. Always check the weather forecast before packing, and bring a rain jacket if there's a possibility of rain

3. You're allowed to bring water up to 2 l. to the festival, so keep yourself hydrated

4. It gets colder at night, so no matter how annoying carrying a jacket might be, do it

5. Download the official festival app, it comes in handy

6. The food trucks that are further away from the entrance have cheaper food

7. Buy a prepaid SIM card with internet if your phone is not locked. I suggest this for transport info to and from the island (the price of SIM varies)

8. If you are staying for more than 3 days, buy a 7-day transport pass (around 15 euros)

9. Bring a swimsuit, there's a beach! 

10. Don't be afraid to express yourself with your make-up and outfits! The crazier the style, the better!

Bonus tip: Naps on the bus en route to the festival are a good idea, as presented by Angela below

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