After two years away, one of Hungary’s biggest cultural events, Sziget festival, is back in Budapest.
Hundreds of concerts and performances on more than a dozen stages are waiting for festival goers on the Island of Freedom, a small isle on the Danube River where Sziget has been taking place since 1993.
In order to help you decide which concerts you shouldn’t miss, an intrepid selection of Euronews’ music-loving journalists have selected some of their personal favourites from this year’s line-up.
Here are the acts you may not be familiar with but that you shouldn’t miss, whether at Sziget or coming to a city near you this year.
Anima Sound System
I remember in the late '90s, my Hungarian parents were coming back from their holiday in Greece. They were eating in a small restaurant at a tiny fishing village near Thessaloniki when they heard a nice tune. They were about to ask what the song was when the singing started... in Hungarian. It was Anima Sound System with their hit ‘'68’, which made it to the first Buddha Bar compilation.
The group, like Sziget, formed in 1993, and like the festival, they’ve also been through a lot of changes during these almost-three decades, with various changes in lineup and adventuring in different sonic styles.
I was never a fan of electronic acts but can’t resist the unique Hungarian and international flavour of the band, with great songs like ‘Tekerd’, ‘Csinálj gyereket’ or their hit recorded with Asian Dub Foundation entitled ‘Elég volt’. Rita Palfi
Anima Sound System are live on Hajógyár Petőfi Stage on Friday 12 August.
According to her website, CMAT is “a global pop star who lives in Dublin with her grandparents and is currently recovering from an AliExpress addiction.”
Global, not quite yet, but singer-songwriter Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson deserves to get there. She merges Rhinestone Cowboy glam with catchy pop tunes, acerbic wit and a never-not-potent emotional core. After releasing a string of singles last year, like ‘Another Day (KFC)’ (imagine The Nolans singing about being dumped and heading to KFC so they could “double down on chicken for some moral support”) and ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!’ (think Dolly Parton developing a Vine obsession and singing about longing for the free-passes men inexplicably get), she released her debut album this year, titled ‘If My Wife New I’d Be Dead’. It's fun, it’s beautifully written, and despite the vexing spelling in the title, it’s damn near perfect.
And as for that AliExpress addiction, we all have our vices. Make your next one CMAT. David Mouriquand
CMAT is live on FreeDome Stage on Wednesday 10 August, and currently on tour – incl. dates in Winterthur Musikfestwochen (14/08), Rotterdam (13/11), Berlin (17/11), Berlin (19/11), London (30/11).
If you’re going to Sziget to boogie with your friends then you would be a fool to miss out on seeing Folamour.
The must-see French producer and DJ has established himself in the underground dance music scene, following the release of his incredibly versatile debut album ‘Umami’ in 2017 and his sophomore project, ‘Ordinary Drugs’ in 2019. His laidback and feel-good style, which incorporates a phenomenal and diverse selection of disco, house, funk, jazz and hip-hop records, is certain to have the whole crowd grooving at Sziget.
For a taste of what to expect from Folamour, check out his legendary and career-defining Boiler Room set at Fly Open Air Festival in 2019. Remember to pack your bucket hat! Theo Farrant
Folamour is live on FreeDome Stage on Friday 12 August, and currently on tour – incl. dates in Lecce (14/08), Perth (19/08), London (20/08), Copenhagen (25/08), Paris (27/08).
Bastille may be one of the bigger names on the line-up this year, but they’re my favourite band and, in my eyes, a UK treasure despite their French-inspired name. I've previously been in their top 1% of listeners, according to Spotify, so that's strong evidence of how much I rate them. One of my favourite songs of theirs is 'Doom Days', because it combines a great beat with a political message. And of course, I'd recommend checking out their best-known song 'Pompeii'.
Most of their songs make a great addition to any summer soundtrack, so why not add the likes of 'Icarus', 'Million Pieces' or 'Give Me the Future' to your August and September playlist as the European heatwave continues?
Also, here's a fun fact for you: some of the band members appeared in season 7 of Game of Thrones. Just another reason to love them a little bit more. James Thomas
Bastille are live on Main Stage on Thursday 11 August, and currently on tour – incl. dates in Reading Festival (26-28/08), Leeds Festival (26-28/08), Paris (15/11), Luxembourg (16/11), Berlin (19/11), Prague (23/11).
Woodkid & Riles
Two of my favourite artists will be present at Sziget this year, and I wouldn’t want to choose between them: two Frenchies who perform in English and who are unmissable live.
The first one is Woodkid, a neofolk artist that I like to listen to when I need an epic soundtrack for a boring day. After all, two of his songs (‘Iron’ and ‘The Golden Age’) were used in the trailers for video game Assassin’s Creed.
If rap is more your cup of tea, the second act is Rilès, and he's well worth your time. Songs like ‘Thank God’ and ‘Brothers’ gave me the morning ‘oomph’ I needed during my sleep-deprived college years. Even after getting famous, Rilès stayed true to the stripped-down aesthetic of his early days when he was independently producing his songs from a bedroom in his family's house. Océane Duboust
Woodkid is live on FreeDome Stage on Friday 12 August, and currently on tour – incl. dates in Grape Festival, Slovakia (13/08), Cannes (18/08), Positiv Festival Orange (02/09). Rilès is live on FreeDome Stage on Thursday 11 August.
There we have it.
Enjoy the festival, discover new artists, drink responsibly, and get booking tickets for upcoming live dates.