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Sziget 2008 - Kurva, It's good to be back in Budapest!
Hungary! Country of acre after acre of yellow grass, yoghurty pancakes, Arany Aszok beer and of course Sziget Festival in the capitol Budapest. What started out as a small student event has turned out to be one of the biggest festivals in Europe, with hundreds of acts on many stages. has been returning here for five years now, and this has a good reason. One that has little to do with yogurthy pancakes, and all the more with beers, sunshine and bands, loads and loads of bands. With the festival being cut two days, and the music turned down after eleven o’ clock, one could sob and whine, but instead we went back to the island to be happily annoyed by the thousands of hippies, enjoy the typical Hungarian bands and above all a good time. And while we were there, we took notes whilst checking out some obscure, and some mainstream bands. All we know is that like every year we had a blast, even for six days in stead of eight. Here’s what we saw and found! Buzzin Hornet, long lost son CarpeSiem and Lex report.
Lauren Harris august 12th, Main Stage
One of my favourite youtube video's of the moment is Lauren Harris' pro-shot performance at this year's Graspop festival in Belgium. Here's this woman - easy on the eye, it has to be said - singing in front of fifty horny middle aged men, early in the morning. It's what always the case with Steve 'my bass guitar is a machinegun' Harris' daughter: she plays some stage that's way too big for her and her generic music. At Sziget however, she had quite a crowd. Probably because there was literally nothing else to do that first day. But rest assure, 99% was talking through her cliché hard rock songs. Come on Steve, stop torturing your daughter and get her off the tour!
Iron Maiden
august 12th, Main Stage

Standing at the back of the Main Stage area, watching the guitar fly around the neck of Jannick Gersh and Adrian Smith posing for the cameramen, seeing Bruce Dickinson performing his 'lifting the crowd' move and asking Budapest to scream for him, and of course seeing Eddie being greeted by the immense crowd, one wonders how a non metal head was watching this stuff. I mean, metal fans all know the ingredients of a Maiden show and most of them love this stuff. But Sziget is such a mixed festival that you'd wonder what this must look like to a hippie, a techno freak or one of those tourists who aren't exactly sure what they are doing on that island. All I know is that Maiden did exactly what it was expected and supposed to do: deliver top notch entertainment and play music so tight it makes you wonder if these guys ever start to bore themselves. If you're still to see this band on their current tour you might be surprised with the slightly disappointing show elements their performance contains, as apposed to the first rumours that started off last year. But hey, all the essentials are there, and as a special bonus the rarity Revelations delivers that extra. In the end Maiden is that big fat Whopper you can get anywhere in the world. Always the same, always equally satisfying when slightly drunk. (Lex)
Anti-Flag august 13th, Main Stage
Opening act on the first full day on the main stage was Anti-Flag and although their latest album For Blood And Empire was released on a major label, you could still feel the disgust of the true punk rock fans. Instead, the front crowd was filled with a lot of enthusiastic young people who seemed to know every single word of the lyrics and they didn’t seem to bother the little sloppy way the band played songs like ‘This is the End’ or ‘One Trillion Dollars’. Besides that, Anti-Flag is one of the few bands who actually sound like they believe the words they say when talking about unity, no difference because of culture, race or religion and freedom of speech. (CarpeSiem) 
Volbeat august 13th, Hammerworld Stage
Danish rockers from Volbeat are one of the big names on the Hammerworld stage on the first official day. The band, who never played in Hungary before, experienced an explosive career in the past two years and is releasing their third record early September 2008. On Sziget the band did what they do best, rock! With their accessible mix of metal and rock and roll the band easily won over the crowd. Besides one new song the band played the various hits coming from their previous albums and the set list included Garden’s Tale, Rebel Monster, I Only Wanna Be With You and Mr. & Ms. Ness. Frontman Michael Poulsend dedicated the song Sad Man’s Tongue to his recently deceased father which caused the band to cancel various shows. The Hungarian crowd had a great introduction show with these guys and so did the band with the Hungarian, but mostly international, crowd! (Buzzin Hornet)
Leningrad august 13th, World Music Stage
Leningrad is a 15! piece member band from St Petersburg, Russia. Although they have recorded more than ten albums of rock/metal with ska-tunes already, their music hasn’t reached the full Western European continent yet. However, right after the first tunes were played it became clear that the band knows how to please the crowd and even some non-native Russian speakers were singing along with the lyrics. Highlight of the show was, as the years before, the big bald guy in the centre of the stage. He doesn’t play an instrument, he doesn’t sing a single note and he’s not a very good dancer. All he does is sitting on his chair, waving his arms while after every five minutes he takes a few beer cans and either smashes them on his head or bites them apart. A bit of a scary sight maybe, but entertaining as hell. (CarpeSiem)

Avantasia august 13th, Hammerworld Stage
Tobias Sammet, frontman of Edguy, has recently released a new album of his solo project Avantasia. On the first day he fulfilled the headlining spot on the Hammerworld stage. The band played a technical show with a lot of smoke. Too bad the people weren’t reacting as expected with a headliner. Perhaps due to the exhausting Volbeat set earlier that night but maybe the crowd just wasn’t in the mood for the show. Besides that the sound wasn’t that good in the back of the tent. This year Sziget has new rules for bands who play later during the night, this due to sound complaints in the previous years. This caused the volume of the sound to be extremely low in the back side of the tent. Perhaps they should have switched the two international bands this night, Volbeat definitely had more crowd and a better response. (Buzzin Hornet)

Delinquent Habits
august 13th, WAN2 Stage
Apparently there is always some guy celebrating his birthday at a Delinquent Habits show. This gives the LA based Hip Hop group an excuse to hand out free tequila to the crowd, and as you might expect this causes the audience to do everything the band wants. At least, the first 10 rows. The band really did what they do best, but once again the sound wasn’t that good. The beat was just missing during the entire set. (Buzzin Hornet)

The Presidents Of The USA august 14th, Main Stage

One of the main stage acts on the second day were The Presidents of The USA, you probably know the - once grammy nominated - band from their hit Peaches (a million of them). And of course the entire field, which was filled until the PA tower, exploded. But the true secret of their show is the fact the band actually loves to play and entertain the audience in front of them. The are sincere, grateful and are enjoying every second on the stage. This always has a positive effect on a crowd and this is great to experience. (Buzzin Hornet)

The ETHS august 14th, Hammerworld Stage
This French female fronted Nu-Metal band played the Hammerworld stage in the early evening. This evening the band managed to produce a brutal sound and played an aggressive set. But on the other end both the sound and the show looked chaotic, a huge mess and lacking of structure. The present, mainly French, fans loved it but for new people the show wasn’t that attractive. (Buzzin Hornet)
august 14th, Main Stage

It seems to me that Millencollin is not the same band anymore they used to be. Whereas ten years ago the songs contained of mainly fast punk rock songs, the smooth melodies have come to replace them. On the on hand it has made them more accessible, probably one of the reasons they got their spot on the main stage, but on the other hand it makes a lot of fans frustrated because they’re hoping for the long material. When, after more than half an hour of waiting, they do get pleased, I have to admit that these songs have way more body. Unfortunately, the band might think otherwise. (CarpeSiem)
Sabaton august 14th, Hammerworld Stage
Great stuff, this band. Not that the music is all that original - in fact it's anything but that - but they sure know how to set the tone for a great live set. With the thundering drums and keyboards being the most dominant instruments, combined with their infectious live performance, it's hard to ignore them. Being a power metal group in every cliché sense of the word they use that charisma and enthusiasm to win over their crowds. Sabaton: How to bring a smile on someone's face. (Lex)
Jamiroquai august 14th, Main Stage
Fuck. Did we ditch the Iced Earth show for this? In stead of getting 'tha par-tay started', mister Jay-Kay of Jamiroquai rambled through his set list with a band that distilled every fun out of his music. A Waste of time. (Lex)
Embers august 15th, Talentum Stage
Now I don’t speak Hungarian and I don’t know much about the Hungarian metal scene but I remember my first Sziget festival where I got to see Embers on a very small stage near my tent. Their brutal metalcore riffs were put to the test live with an insane live performance and I still cannot believe that Black Sabbats’ ‘Paranoid’ could be turned over into a metalcore song. Two years later, the stage is different and a little bigger but the crowd and the band are the same. The songs all seem to have been worked out more, according to the instrumental intermezzo’s but it’s clear that for Embers the opportunities are limited. Please give these guys a spot at the Hammerworld stage next year. (CarpeSiem)
Sex Pistols
august 15th, Main Stage
The most superfluous comeback ever has to be the one where Johnny Rotten called up Glenn Matlock and asked him if he could borrow some money, before finding out that Matlock was just as broke as Rotten. Result? A tour, sporting their only record Never Mind the Bollocks. And there he was: in his fifties, with his many chins elegantly waving in the Hungarian wind. In front of 40.000 people half his age, ninety percent of whom have never heard of the Sex Pistols, and ninety five of whom never heard anything more than Pretty Vacant or Anarchy in the UK. The boy band has made it's comeback. And they've written a new 'hilarious' song that contains the chorus 'Allah be Praised, Bush be Erased'. Ooooh. That punk music, it sure is scary, isn't it? (Lex)

Danko Jones august 15th, WAN2 Stage
Yeah, so the last Danko record kind of sucks. At least the band, and the front man above all, is still very entertaining. Playing a small hour - which is just perfect for this band - the Canadians sent the audience into a crowdsurf and moshing frenzy. Great eleven 'o clock show, and probably the most frantic crowd response seen in the WAN2 tent the whole week. (Lex)
Serj Tankian august 16th, Main Stage
Sometimes bands and artists can benefit from the circumstances they perform in. As for Serj Tankian, the sun setting over the audience was one of the biggest assets of his show. Hardly his achievement. But it made for an amazing atmosphere, where his so-so semi-Radiohead semi-System of a Down material landed quite okay. But saying that the Dead Kennedys Cover 'Holliday in Cambodia' was one of the highlights basically says it all musically. Just reunite SOAD, Serj. You'd do everyone a big, big favour. (Lex)
Punish Yourself august 16th, Hammerworld Stage
Well, well. This has to be the most ridiculous act ever seen on Sziget. Keep in mind, Metalrage watched a group of middle aged men in diapers perform last year. This tops everything. How to describe Punish Yourself - amazingly dumb band name by the way. Four 'musicians' painted in glow in the dark body paint, who have instruments in their hands for no apparent reason. To clarify things a bit: there was a ridiculously loud techno tape playing over the 'music'. At least that's what you'd think, before understanding that the techno tape is the actual music. The Hammerworld Stage - usually a metal stage - was filled from front to back with French idiots all going bezerk to this silly dance music. The 'metal' was literally nowhere to be found, to the great liking of the croissant baking audience. Party! Woohoo! Really, really silly stuff this. (Lex)
Fish! august 16th, WAN2 Stage
One of those bands you just stumble upon when crawling over the Island of Sziget Obudai. Quite a funny one at that, not in the sense of jokes and pranks, but rather in the sence of being completely unfocussed. Starting off with a crossover tune (Living Color style), moving into straight rapmetal territories (Kid Rock and so on), before giving 'Lady Marmalade' a numetal treatment. You know, like the school band, every band member gets his or her say. Result: a little bit of everything. Great singer, great band in general. Just no focus on a certain style. Too bad. (Lex)
Meshuggah august 16th, Hammerworld Stage
Jens Kidman was really up for it at the Sziget Festival this year. "Are you still here?" - (Crowd shouts the band name repetitive) - "Ok, we'll go home. See you tomorrow." What Kidman encountered was a festival crowd tired out from days of drinking and partying. A fatigued group of folks who were down to their last straws. But all the cynical joking from Kidman aside, the band delivered as usual. Nothing special, just a decent concert. (Lex)
Superbutt august 16th, Hammerworld Stage
The Hungarian act Superbutt is one of the bands which always is playing on a decent spot during the festival. This year they had an excellent spot right after Meshuggah. Too bad the band had a bad start when the vocals weren’t on in the tent. The, mostly, Hungarian audience present thankfully didn’t really cared about these problems and an instant pit from the first second creates a good atmosphere in the tent. But when the vocals kick back in during the second song the audience really starts to move. The Hungarian version of System of a Down knows how to get the attention of their audience and apply their formula without making any mistakes. The only minor is that the Hungarian bands aren’t trying to interact with the present international audience, the only communication we get is a ‘Welcome to Budapest’. Thankfully the songs are straight forward, and the band uses them to get the audience to move and party. The best thing about the show are the impressive skills of their bass player who creates a nice flow filled with funk in the music if Superbutt. The charismatic frontman Andras Vörös completes the act by getting the audience to do various metal clichés like the classic circle pit and wall of death. Compared with other bands Superbutt managed to use the audio systems properly and the sound wasn’t bad at all during their set. The set list included songs like All Denied, Better Machine, Fish Machine, Eat My Brains and Pioneer. Even songs from their Hungarian EP are played. (Buzzin Hornet)

Subscribe august 16th, Hammerworld Stage
Right after Superbutt the stage was owned by another promising Hungarian act. The enormous amount of energy Subscribe releases during a show is rare in Hungary. The various members actually fly across the stage and they are extremely popular. The Hammerworld stage attracted a young audience which filled 75% of the tent. The audience mainly consists out of young girls who seems to be attracted by the young but talented members. Funky nu-metal played with passion and energy is what you can expect. From the moment they start playing you will keep your eyes focussed on the stage or you are moving around the tent enjoying the big pit. The quality of the sound is less than with the previous acts but the band manages to match or exceed the experience of all acts playing in front of the act. The local audience present loudly sings along with the English lyrics of songs like Kiss And Kill Your Boyfriend, S.O.S. and Oidipus Abortion Clinic. (Buzzin Hornet)

3 Inches Of Blood august 17th, Hammerworld Stage
The Canadian act cancelled both performances in the Netherlands and therefore we were quite happy to see the act playing in Europe after all. During the years the band has seen quite a few line up changes and since the last time Metalrage has seen the act live the band has got a new bass player, drummer and there is one vocalist missing. The second vocals are replaced by guitarist Justin who actually manages to fulfill the job quite nice. Even though the band has got new members they sound amazing with their fast Thrash metal powered by the high pitched vocals from frontman Cam Pipes. The fast solos and aggressive tight drums give the set a solid body. Songs played include Night Marauders, Wicked Child, Kill The Orks, Forest King, Goat Riders Horde and Deadly Sinners. (Buzzin Hornet)
The Killers august 17th, Main Stage
After last year, everyone seemed to agree that the main act was disappointing. However, the organization thought that The Killers should have a second chance to turn the Budapest crowd insane so here they were again. The difference with last year was the fact that no longer the Sam’s Town album was the main subject. A good mixture with Hot Fuzz made a lot of people realize that almost every single song is a potential hit. The band played a little tighter than last year although some of the songs were still played too slow and the vocals weren’t always as clear as they should be. But then again, with songs like ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘When You Were Young’ and ‘Mr. Brightside’ one could expect nothing but happy faces in the crowd at the end of a very long, yet satisfying week. (CarpeSiem)

Carcass august 17th, Hammerworld Stage
The 'Mighty' Carcass; a reunionshow of a band that a lot of metalfans having been looking up to since the they broke up in the 90s. For me, it was quite the let down. The band started almost 50 minutes late due to what looked like gear problems. When Mr. Walker and company finally started to play, we got served with another fair share of crappy sound in the Hammerworld tent. Not even moving around a little improved that, so I guess only the guys in the front were allowed to have a good time. Carcass played a mix of older and 'newer' material (it's hard to call it new when it's over 10 years old), along with enough intro-tapes. Knowing that the material is this old, counting in the shitty sound and not the tightest playing in the world, Carcass sounded like an average death metal band playing for the fans in front, but I bet that if I saw them in a decent setting things would have been much better.

So, there you have it. Another week in the Hungarian sun. Throughout the years this festival has kept proving itself as the best combination between a summer holiday and a rock festival. So, until next year?

Pictures thanks to Sziget website:
Avantasia - Balazs Szekelyhídi
Danko Jones - Balazs Szekelyhídi
Anti Flag - Andras Eberling
The Presidents Of The USA -
Millencollin - Andras Eberling
Meshuggah - Adam Urban
Iron Maiden - Balazs Szekelyhídi
Leningrad - Adam Urban
Serj Tankian - Andras Eberling
Sex Pistols - Andras Eberling
Details Written on Thursday Aug 21st, 2008
Writer @Lex

Tags: #Sziget 2008