Of all the festivals we had the opportunity to visit this summer, the most diverse and comprehensive remains the Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary. The festival will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year under new management and many changes. Most of the festivals that have taken place in the aftermath of the pandemic have been affected by cutbacks in content and materials associated with the loss of two years of hiatus, with many contracts closed and shows frozen.
Even so, Sziget Festival 2022 managed to maintain a very strong line-up, with the areas of performing arts, gastronomy, activities and decoration being mainly affected. In addition, this year the duration of the festival was reduced by one day, from the usual seven days to six, but this did not reduce the attendance, which impressively surpassed the record of previous years with 450,000 visitors from all over the world, approximately 50,000 more people than in the previous edition.
On what has been our favourite stage in recent years, we were able to witness the energy of Jungle at the Freedome stage, where this year’s attendance doubled, and the euphoria reached such levels that part of the audience climbed the support columns of the huge tent. Despite this incident and the break the British band was forced to take, they performed the songs from their latest album Loving in Stereo with excellent acoustics.
The great personal discovery of this year was the French artist MEZERG, who brings the Theremin, invented in 1928 by Leon Theremin, back to life. The Theremin joins the long list of musical instruments with incredible potential, such as the Kaleidophon employed by David Vorhaus, which comes from an unsuccessful lineage of modifications since Jörg Mager‘s Electrophon invented in 1921 and later coined Spherophone.
MEZERG is able to play at the same time percussion with each foot, one hand per keyboard and additionally add the distinctive sound of the Theremin. This is how he creates a unique style that he calls PianoBoomBoom, a human all-in-one, which is why he is known as the One Man Band. The Burdigalian Marc Mezergue gives his all at every concert, in what initially generates curiosity and ends up generating a cumulus of joy and wildness among the audience. The artist demonstrates a combination of simplicity and spontaneity in the electronic scene.
The third group we highlight from the Freedome stage is BadBadNotGood. The Canadian band mixes jazz with psychedelia and a touch of hip-hop and shared their latest album Talk Memory at this edition of the festival. BadBadNotGood’s melody spreads across the stage and immerses the audience in a relaxed and uplifting atmosphere.
In the field of performing arts, Sziget Festival gives as every year a space on the island for the Cirque du Sziget, with open and closed acts, but the shows take place all over the island. Our favourites were the Canadian group Barcode Circus Company, with their first theatrical work Sweat & Ink. On one of the last days, we were able to enjoy Sacude and their show Euphoria. Other artists who were not far behind were the Hungarian group Firebirds & Flame Flowers and the Japanese juggler Hisashi Watanabe, with his peculiar choreography.
The celebration at the festival also includes talks and social awareness shows, such as the one performed by French choreographers Les Twins. These two brothers, internationally renowned dancers, became known a couple of years ago for dancing in the streets of Paris to hip-hop and other musical styles. From there, they went on to become champions in international urban dance competitions and have shared the stage with artists such as Beyoncé.
The island welcomed a little piece of Vietnam with a performance by the Vietnam National Water Puppet Theatre and their water puppets, as well as a living statue competition and the stilt dancers of the Afuma group. To the surprise of many, you could enjoy on the streets of Obuda Island the artists’ group Cie Paris Benares with their two giant sacred cows, made of wood, metal and resin, so perfectly finished that they gave you the impression of interacting with a real living being.
Another essential stop on the island is the Global Village, where all the ethnic and folk music converges. This year’s highlights included Ghanaian Highlife Funk and Afrobeat band Santrofi, the oriental glam of Sofiane Saidi and Mazalda from Algeria, as well as Polish folk band Bubliczki. La Perla brought their Latin rhythms from Colombia and led a percussion workshop for the Sziticens.
In the north of the island, we find the Music Box stage in a particularly green and quiet area. This year the Hungarian jazz trio Jazzbois, as well as Perrin, O’SULLIVAN, or the German band Guacáyo stood out. Near the Music Box appears another very niche stage focused on rap and hip hop, the dropYard, where YAPO played this year.
A little bit of much and a lot concentrated at Sziget Festival 2022. From mainstream to local, a variety of genres and styles, what will Sziget Festival 2023 have in store for its 30th anniversary?