Canned Heat and Afrobeat on Sziget

August 1, 2008

Hungary, Budapest, Obudai Island
August 12-19, 2008

A bunch of bands have confirmed their appearance for the 2008 Sziget Festival, the organizers are glad to announce. Among them Jamiroquai in the star-studded line-up of the Main Stage, at earlier times Serj Tankian, best known as the frontman of System Of A Down, Flogging Molly, one of the key punk rock groups or The Wombats of Liverpool, who are one of the most hyped bands in today's guitar-based indie scene. On the world music stage, Transglobal Underground are to arrive with Natacha Atlas, and we'll have the chance to welcome Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Fela Kuti, who created the afrobeat movement mixing West African joruba rhythms with funk and jazz. The WAN2 Stage will present — among others — Danko Jones, Delinquent Habits and The New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, whereas the metal site is to host Iced Earth, Avantasia, Exodus and more.

It is already known that on Day Zero of the Sziget Festival, Iron Maiden are to perform with openers Lauren Harris (daughter of the Maiden bassist) and her band. On the five proper days of the festival, the headliners include R.E.M. and The Sex Pistols, earlier zones will present Kaiser Chiefs and Roisin Murphy. Rumors have started to circulate about Leonard Cohen to perform at the event, he however cancelled all his August shows, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, the organizers of Sziget are delighted to announce a new bunch of performers. First of all Jamiroquai (the name mixes the words 'jam' and 'iroquai') must be mentioned. The most popular acid jazz band of the 1990s will be a headliner of the Main Stage. The group makes not only the British and international hearts throb, but also those of Hungarian funk soul brothas and sistas right up till today. Although several reports suggested in recent years that Jay Kay is to retire from showbiz in order to concentrate on founding a family, the band has returned to the studio and started to give concerts again. Return of the Space Cowboys.

On the Main Stage, before R.E.M., we're glad to welcome Lebanon-born Armenian-American Serj Tankian, frontman of the eclectic System Of A Down, one of the most celebrated rock bands of our time. Serj is first and foremost a star, a kind of rock star whose thinking can be matched with that of Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, Tom Morello etc. He likes to try himself in lots of different things, he rocks, he takes part in avantgarde productions (Buckethead, Les Rita Mitsuoko etc.) if he doesn't perform with his band: his label Serjical Strike Records and the recently founded Serart offers a chance to release special kinds of music. Last year he came out with his acclaimed solo album Elect The Dead which is the perfect essence of what the name Serj Tankian means.

Also on the Main Stage, ready to present a great afternoon set, are Flogging Molly, one of the marginal bands that revitalized Irish folk music on the basis of punk rock, following in the footsteps of such artists as Shane MacGowan or the descendants of The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys.

If you thought that the fighting, dedicated old school punk ethics only survived in Manu Chao's dance music, then we have some good news: there are still some authentic punk bands left! To support this view we present you Anti-Flag from Pittsburgh who have carried on the Exploited or Circle Jerks type of attitude since the 90s. It wasn't by chance that on several tours they were headlining the Rock Against Bush concert series in 2004.

"Let's dance to Joy Division!", claim The Wombats of Liverpool (formed in 2003, two albums so far) in their biggest hit. This sentence grasps the pop credo of one of the most hyped bands in the British indie scene brilliantly — the audience of the Main Stage will have the chance to witness it.

A French actress with a super throat is also to appear on the Sziget Main Stage. She's Mademoiselle K, whose first record Ça me Vexe (This turns me on) blew music fans away. She mentions P J Harvey as a primary influence. According to reviews, in her songs "there are some signs of the depressing atmosphere that can be found in the English singer's early recordings", but Mademoiselle K is able to break away from this, thanks to her almost acrobatic voice: she miaows, yells, screams, mumbles, plays a diva as much as her vocal chords let her.

So much for the as yet confirmed stars of the Sziget Main Stage in 2008, but the end of the line is still far, as acclaimed bands and performers are lining up on the World Music Main Stage, the WAN2 Stage and the Hammerworld Metal Stage.

The World Music Stage of Sziget presents living legends this year as well. One of these is Seun Kuti & Egypt 80. Seun Kuti, son of Fela Kuti, creator of Afrobeat mixing West African joruba rhythms with funk and jazz, didn't only inherit his father's charismatic figure and talent, but also his band Egypt 80. Fronting them, Seun has given several extraordinary concerts in recent years, and by 2008, their first collective album Many Things has been released — they are to present this fresh sensation at the festival. The Goran Bregovic Wedding & Funeral Band are also set to appear. The most popular performer of Balkan Gypsy music in worldwide terms, Goran Bregovic, is arriving with his production called Alcohol, in which he adapted the hits of legendary Bijelo Dugme with his Wedding & Funeral Band, for the first time in Hungary. Transglobal Underground & Natacha Atlas are also coming to the World Music Stage. It's been ten years since the English key band of oriental ethno-techno, Transglobal Underground, and their singer, Natacha Atlas parted their ways, by playing concerts separately. This time however, upon the request of the Sziget organizers, they will share the stage again.

The WAN2 Stage is expecting its guest with the usual selection of high standard. One of the performers will be Danko Jones of Canada — the singer and guitarist with the pseudonym Danko Jones and his band — who are a real, classic, cool band — there's no need for further attributes. They are a trio that combines steamy blues, punk, hard rock and funk fueled by massive rock and roll mentality. Another act to perform is Delinquent Habits. They are a cult hip-hop band formed on the streets of Los Angeles who were among the first to mix Anglo-Chicano rap with Latin rhythms. The New York Ska Jazz Ensemble are actually a supergroup; some of the best ska musicians of New York and the world (from The Toasters To Skatalites etc) have united to play jazz standards with ska motives. Hocus Pocus are a French hip-hop band formed in 1995 that is widely acknowledged among fans as well as musicians and the press in the French speaking regions. The French/English music of the group, founded by 20syl, combines acoustic and electronic elements in a unique way. Les Trouffes Kretiennes are a super group from France: this horn section, formed from the members of Babylon Circus, Ogres de Barback and Hurlements d'Leo originally came together to play just one gig in Barcelona which turned out so well that 250 further concerts followed, also at big festivals, making a tremendous amount of people dance.

One of America's best known metal bands, Iced Earth, are ready — among others — to turn the Hammer World Stage upside down. The band, led by guitarist Jon Schaffer, are carrying their trademark sound (thrash meets Iron Maiden on the dissection table), with which they received such great success and critical acclaim in the 90s, on to the 21st century. Avantasia, one of the most interesting and remarkable metal projects in recent years, are also to perform in front of the audience of Sziget. They are yet another supergroup, founded by Tobias Sammet, singer of Edguy, from the cream of the contemporary metal scene, to stage a real metal opera. Anyone who knows at least a tiny thing about the history of thrash must not miss the classics that will be played by Exodus, formed in 1981, who can be defined as one of the key bands of the so-called Bay Area Thrash. Kirk Hammett, later of Metallica fame, orginally started from here. The albums of Gary Holt and his band are the milestones of 1980s metal history, from the defining Bonded By Blood debut to the latest uncompromising The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A.

Sziget Official Website


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