After a long year of waiting, it was finally here again: Sziget 2023 was back on. With six days of amazing artists, this promised to be a wonderful festival.
The very first act on this year’s Main stage was provided by a Dutch band. Son Mieux, the seven-member band from The Hague, opened the festival on the biggest stage. Full of energy and enthusiasm, the band members entered the stage. Decked out in various shiny and glittery outfits, they were all set. For the first song, “This Is The Moment”, they played an extra-long intro, allowing all the band members to show off their musical skills in advance.
Son Mieux’s music was a perfect opener to the festival. Using pop with disco influences, they soon managed to get people dancing. The band’s enthusiasm also helped. All band members were clearly enjoying themselves on stage, happy to play at such a beautiful venue. Halfway into the set, they played their mega-hit “Multicolor”.
With singer Camiel Meiresonne’s message, ‘forget about yesterday, forget about tomorrow’, the tone was set for the rest of the week.
The first performance scheduled at the Freedome was the US band Destroy Boys. Accompanied by Flo Rida’s ‘Low’, the band members came running onto the stage. With their fast pace and screeching guitars, they quickly won over the audience. Destroy Boys’ music could be described as angry punk rock or garage punk. The guitarist, Violet Mayugba, thanked the audience almost after every song, so happy was she to see so many people coming to their set.
The singer, Alexia Roditis, jumped off the stage halfway through the set. She ran for a stretch across the speakers in front of the stage. Finally, she also made a dash down the middle aisle, right through the audience. She dedicated the song “Vixen” to ‘the girls, the gays and the theys’.
For the song “Shadow (I’m Breaking Down)”, Roditis asked everyone to scream along for a moment. She swapped the lyrics ‘fuck the police’, which normally accompanied this song, for the slogan ‘fuck the war’. After this reverberated through the Freedome a few times, the band launched into the song.
With the song “I Threw Glass at My Friend’s Eyes and Now I’m on Probation”, which went viral on TikTok a while ago, the band closed their set.
At half past five, the next act started on the Main stage. British band Foals began their set with the song “Wake Me Up” from their latest album. Although the fans at the front of the audience let loose and sang along from the first moment, it took a little longer for the rest of the audience. The band did not seem to put much effort into getting everyone to join in and they played their songs obediently. As the set progressed, the songs got a bit more zesty, which also made the audience want to join in more. Halfway through the performance, Yannis Philippakis, the singer, asked everyone to get on their knees. After building up to almost an entire song, everyone jumped up. The audience finally really loosened up.
At the song “Inhaler”, the band’s sound changed. Until that point, they were mainly playing more of their submission songs. This song, on the other hand, had much more of a rock sound. The crowd that had gathered in front of the Main stage could appreciate this and jumped to it. At the last song of the set, “What Went Down”, Philippakis jumped off the stage and sang the song while climbing on the barricade. After this catchy ending, the band left the stage.
Later in the evening, it was time for Sam Fender. The English singer cancelled his show at Sziget last year at the last minute. A year later, he had managed to come here to perform a show after all. He played the song “Will We Talk?” from his debut album as the set’s opener.
As soon as he started playing, the proportions of the audience changed. All the English on the island flocked to the Main stage. Although Fender reaches a large international audience, he still seemed most popular with those who were also from England.
Although he released another album later, he played almost all the songs from his first album. Surely these were the most popular songs with the audience too. As the set progressed, the performance attracted more and more people. Towards the end, the lawn was really packed. At one point, he also played a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”, to which the audience sang along at the top of their voices. The last two songs of his set were “Seventeen Going Under” and “Hypersonic Missiles”. Surely these were his most popular songs. Afterwards, he left the stage with loud cheers.
Later in the evening, the band Viagra Boys performed at the Freedome. The Swedish punk band attracted a huge crowd; the tent was packed. When the band members walked on stage, half were wearing no shirt and the other half were wearing extremely short shorts. Singer Sebastian Murphy in particular attracted a lot of attention when he took off his shirt to loud cheers. With a fag and a beer in his hand, he started the first song, “Ain’t No Thief”.
From the very first song, moshpits began in the audience. People were also drinking heavily and beer was being thrown on all sides. Not only the audience but also the band enjoyed some drinks. As the set progressed, it was also clear that Murphy had already looked deep into the glass. All the more reason for a party, it seemed. The crowd was moshing away. After playing for over an hour, the band closed their set with the song “Research Chemicals”.
Florence + the Machine
The very first headliner of the Sziget festival was none other than Florence + the Machine. The stage was fully decorated with all candelabras with veils over them. This gave it a beautiful fairytale look. Singer Florence Welch also wore a dashing pink dress, which made her look like she stepped out of a fairy tale herself. This obviously fitted beautifully with the band’s music, which has a romantic sound.
During the first two songs, “Heaven Is Here” and “King”, Welch was still quite calm, but as soon as “Ship to Wreck” was launched, she started running. Throughout the rest of the set, the singer kept using the entire stage. She ran in all directions and all barefoot. At one point, she also jumped off the stage and climbed onto the barricade in front of the audience. Here she sang an entire song, especially for one person. She held the lucky fan’s face in her hands for almost the entire song. After this, it took two more songs before she climbed the stage again. Down on the floor, too, she ran from side to side. Even the aisle that separated the audience down the middle she ran back and forth several times, giving fans attention on both sides.
On the hit “You’ve Got The Love”, the entire audience sang along at the top of their voices. As this is one of the band’s best-known songs, this was to be expected.
Then they played the song “Dog Days Are Over”. This song got a lot of attention again recently, so this was also a clear audience favourite. Halfway through the song, Welch told about a tradition they keep at every show during this song. Everyone was asked to put away their phones. No one was allowed to film anymore and everyone had to give their all and jump as long and high as possible. This clearly had an effect; the rest of the song saw people jumping three times as hard and as high into the air.
After a few more songs, the band disappeared from the stage. After a while, they returned for an encore. For the very last song of the evening, Welch asked for a small favour. She asked for a few ‘human sacrifices’. During “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”, everyone had to sit on each other’s shoulders; these people served as sacrifices. Overwhelmed by the audience’s enthusiasm, Florence Welch sang this last song with full abandon.