After two days of alternating weather and headlining acts of alternating quality (I didn’t say this – the majority of reporters did, though), the third, or officially Day 1 of the Sziget Festival, brought about some much-needed guitar and alt-rock. The gargantuan pan-artistic event has been growing exponentially in the past 15 years or so, and this growth meant some difficult decisions regarding the nature of Main Stage(s) performers had to be made. Now that Sziget is indisputably one of the largest cultural events in the world, in order to sell enough tickets to support its magnificent 1,500-plus programs and 3,000-strong staff (seriously, major kudos to those people working around the clock so that we can feel at home), compromises have to be made, and that’s all right, business is business, after all. It is for this reason that the majority of the Main Stage headliners in recent years have been pop and club-house stars, and the good ol’ guitar had to, literally, forgo center stage, and settle for the large A38 tent, the epicenter of, in my opinion, best festival performances for some four years now.
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Although the show hadn’t sold out, Garbage‘s performance at Summerstage was a treat for all those in attendance. With Kristin Kontrol (Dee Dee from the Dum Dum Girls) as their opener (it was Welchez’s second public New York City performance with the moniker) playing tracks from her debut X-Communicate, Garbage smashed through their catalog including the ‘90s classics “Stupid Girl” and “Push It”. But the offerings from their newest album Strange Little Birds were equally as exciting. Lead singer Shirley Manson was everywhere as she belted out “Empty” and “Even Though Our Love is Doomed”. Really though, Garbage brought tons of energy to the stage and ensured their fans that, at over twenty years in, they are not gonna be a nostalgia act any time soon. Check out photos from the show below and additional tour dates from Garbage as well.
It should be apparent that Josh Ritter is one of my favorite artists as I’ve covered his shows at least five times for this site alone. So at the first chance I had to see him with The Royal City Band in 2016, at a free outdoor show in Prospect Park (where he had opened for Damien Rice last year) I leapt at it. Ritter is one of the happiest performers I’ve seen on any stage and there was no reason this show would be different.
When Peter Gabriel joked that he and Sting were doing the same yoga routine on the tour, he also mentioned their bandmates couldn’t tell them apart—they were the “tantric twins”. And though they are not actually twins, their longstanding friendship allowed for them to perform a show that was more than a greatest hits presentation, it was a collaborative effort between the musicians and their respective bands. Each artist looked happy when sharing the stage or when playing the other’s songs even though Gabriel insisted the crowd decide which of the two was superior—Gabriel’s band were designated team red and Sting’s were team blue.
I only popped into Webster Hall’s Marlin Room to see A-WA (pronounced Ay-Wa and translates to “yeah” in Arabic) for a few songs but I quickly found that their colorful attire and winsome beats had gotten the crowd partying hard. It was the band’s celebration for their debut release Habib Galbi and I was lucky enough to catch a moment when the three sisters, Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim, invited a number of fans up onto the stage to dance with them. It was great fun to see them perform especially since I didn’t understand what the Israeli sisters were singing about.