After hearing a lot of hype about European festivals, B and I decided it would be remiss of us not to go to at least one of the three major festivals here in Hungary this summer. We ended up buying tickets for two – Balaton Sound, an electronic music festival held over three days at Lake Balaton in July, and Sziget, a week-long festival held on Óbuda island on the Danube not far from the centre of Budapest.
Balaton Sound appealed initially because Björk was headlining, as well as The Gossip, Caribou, Digitalism, and some DJs I had sort of heard of but didn’t know a lot about. I guess I am somewhat out of the dance music loop these days but I do love a festival so we bought 3 day passes and booked a cheap hotel by the lake.
Not long after buying the tickets, Björk cancelled due to illness and neither of us were very excited about going. However, European festivals are quite different to Australian ones and it was worth it regardless of the lineup.
Balaton Sound is right on the waterfront, so if it’s hot (it wasn’t by the time we got there), punters can have a dip and play a variety of games in the water. The organisers are very attuned to the need for casual chill-out areas and we found hammocks, beach chairs, recliners and sunbeds galore. The cool air was lovely at night and the sprinkling of rain on the first night was welcome.
The second day brought heavy rain and by the time we got there, the silty dust had turned to mud and many people were walking around barefoot, muddy feet and legs on show, still happy to be dancing and drinking, listening to various musical acts or hanging out in the food areas, sitting around talking. The weather was the same on the final day – early rain, leaving pools of mud for us to carefully avoid (or if you are my enthusiastic partner, you could jump in one whilst holding your very expensive camera, splash mud all over yourself and those around you and hightail it out of there before you run the risk of being punched). The sun did come out on the Sunday as De La Soul came on stage and the mud on my feet started to dry off as I danced to their tunes and waved my arms around like the whitest woman who ever danced to American old school hip hop.
I was also quite interested in French DJ David Guetta, as I had heard his name a little (though I don’t listen to commercial radio at home) and honestly thought he was a vocalist and not a DJ. (See, I really don’t pay attention…!) I was surprised at just how many of his tracks I knew and was very excited to hear Australian artist Sia Furler featured in one of his tracks, Titanium. I do know that song well, but had no idea who put it together. Cue a stupid moment of me saying, “oh, is David Guetta a DJ?!” and a few other lightbulb moments of dancing to his tunes and saying, “I love this song!”
We stumbled upon a Hungarian DJ who goes by the name of Fine Cut Bodies, who I incorrectly thought was another artist and wondered why none of the songs were familiar – turns out we were at the wrong stage – but he was fantastic and we both danced happily (albeit with sore feet) until the early hours. We were very excited to see him play again at Sziget and proceeded to hunt down his website and music online afterwards.
Highlights for me were Beth Ditto from The Gossip walking onstage wearing a sign saying “Punanny Massif” across her crotch and declaring her love for the Hungarian band of the same name for allowing her to wear their dressing room door sign. Throughout her set she continued to make aptly-timed references to her “massive vagina” and “massive punanny” which were lost on anyone whose first language wasn’t English (ie; most people) but I got a laugh out of it. Ditto is a big woman who is proud of her body and seems to refuse to take on any body-image bashing from the media. I like her a lot. She also has an amazing set of pipes and belts out a song like nobody’s business. Her final song was a tribute to Whitney Houston and Donna Summer, singing I Will Always Love You, which made me stop in my tracks and sing along unashamedly. I am a Whitney fan, I admit it – blame my dance teacher for choreographing one of our performances to Love Is A Contact Sport when I was 8.
I convinced B that Caribou were worth seeing, and indeed they were. I only have one album of theirs but they did not disappoint – one of those sets that you don’t need to know every song because the band is so tight and so great to watch that you enjoy their music regardless. B was really impressed and we both got some great photos as we had essentially camped out at the front of the stage for about 40 minutes prior to the start of the set.
Björk cancelling was a disappointment, but we did have an excellent time at Balaton Sound and it was great to get back into festivals and not feel too old or too out of the loop (despite me not knowing much about a lot of the acts…)
Next post on Sziget Festival – 5 days of fun and getting dust up our noses and in our lungs… we are still feeling the effects…