Preview – Sziget Festival, Budapest (11-18/08/2014)

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The mistake that a lot of the big commercial UK festivals make is splashing the cash on three ostentatious big name charting acts to headline, then land-filling the rest of the bill with the flotsam and jetsam that is pushed onto them by promoters and agents. This is confirmed most clearly by this year’s Reading/Leeds line-up, the top flight look shiny and expensive, but the lower leagues lack any depth or interest.

Sziget, a huge, Hungarian festival located on an island in the river Danube in Budapest, offers something a little bit more holistic this year. Some of the big names on Sziget’s line-up can also be found atop the bill at Reading (QOTSA, Blink 182 et al.), but they are joined by an astounding depth and variety of entertaining live acts. Sziget is immediately the more appealing option.

At the top of the roster we find The Prodigy, Korn, Placebo and QOTSA; for those about mosh, I salute you. These big name rock acts are joined by the likes of Skrillex, Deadmua5, Calvin Harris and Axwell to cater to fans of big room blockbuster dance music. There are also several slightly more ‘alternative’ pop acts at the top of the roster, Outkast being the stand-out. They are joined by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lily Allen, Madness and the Manic Street Preachers.

However, it is toward the bottom of the bill that the depth of the festival comes to fruition. Nicolaas Jarr’s XX-esque project Darkside are playing, a unique and fascinating act who combine Jaar’s rockabilly infused vocals with his unique, deep house production and sparse, echo-laden live guitar lines. They are joined by the post-dubstep soundscapes of Mount Kimbie, the electro-pop of La Roux and Radio 1 favourites the 1975.

The beauty of this festival is it’s length and depth. Lasting 7 days and containing a line-up that continues to impress from top to bottom. The acts listed above only scratch the surface, check out the rest of the line-up – full of gems the whole way down.

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