Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Volt 2013

Like any festival, Volt 2013 was not without problems. The place proved small at times; it was difficult to move on the main roads (especially if multiple events ended at the same time and on the most popular day, Saturday) and there were long queues everywhere – for drinks, for toilet, for topping up the cards, for taxis outside. More info would have been better too: program booklets were nowhere to be found. During the festival I saw a couple of them, but nobody knew where to get one. A huge print of the program was put at the biggest crossroad which was great until the huge crowd made it impossible to get there and stop to look at it. More navigation signs would’ve been great too. For these reasons day 0 of the festival was a bit confusing. Most of these problems are related to the fact that Volt festival is now too huge for the current place. It will stay here for the next couple of years, but the plan is to eventually move the festival further away from Sopron, near the site of the Pan-European Picnic. Still it is pretty easy to get over these problems and enjoy the festival.

Volt festival is a huge salad bowl of different people and radically different musical styles. Rap, alternative, electro, rock, metal, pop, blues, folk…everything was present. I’d personally prefer festivals with more focus, but this has advantages too. Volt brings you your favorites but you can also discover new music. This strength is also Volt’s weakness. The program is so packed that sometimes there are two interesting things at the same time. Dub FX and Example or Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg and Bullet for my Valentine. Deák Bill and Kéknyúl (both labeled blues) also played at the same time, but they turned out to be widely different. Hungarian Road was at the same time as Papa Roach and Billy Talent meaning they had to play on the smallest of the 3 large stages. They complained about this at the concert, but they couldn’t complain about the audience: many people still came to hear them. Another band that would have deserved a bigger stage was Paddy & the Rats, a Hungarian band playing Irish punk. Even though they were put on a smallest stage with very little space for the audience, it was full of fans and the concert was one of the bests at Volt.

Non-music events

volt1

Even when you couldn’t find some good music there were plenty of things to do. The amusement area had bungee jumping and various rides. After you climbed up a tower next to the main stage you could slide down above the crowd in front of the main stage. This was extremely popular, even the singer of Papa Roach did it. The Hungarian army let the people play with weapons, next to it you could try what it feels like to be in a car accident. At another place there were interviews with various Hungarian musicians. And there was a Volt theater with a great musical/play about the life of Frank Sinatra. I just wanted to peek in what’s it like but ended up watching it to the end.

Concerts

Photo: Tóth Zsombor

Photo: Tóth Zsombor

You can read Marko’s detailed review about the QOTSA concert here. I agree, the visuals were great and their performance was like clockwork, even to the point that I had no problem believing when Josh sang “I’m a machine”. He talked to the audience maybe once or twice, and the concert ended quite abruptly. They didn’t even say goodbye, just left and that’s it. By the way there was no encore for any of the big names (not just QOTSA) which I found very strange. 30 seconds to Mars after QOTSA was quite different: Jared Leto always had something to say to the audience and the band put an insane effort into making the audience believe it was the most important concert in the history of the band. Huge balloons, waving a Hungarian flag, acrobat show, playing among the audience on an acoustic guitar, recording for a new music video, inviting people on stage: this concert had everything. I was also positively surprised by the music, because I have a hard time stomaching the unnatural, plastic sound of the albums. Bullet for my Valentine’s sound was also much more raw alive, which I liked. This was the same time as Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. They were like a tornado on the next stage, with just quick counts of 1,2,3,4 between the songs to catch a breath.

Do you know the Australian film Bad Boy Bubby? If not, watch it, it’s a great film with a shocking and extremely disturbing start, with comedy and positivity slowly taking over. The music from that film is what came to my mind while I watched the Tudósok concert. This is an old Dadaist band, originally formed in Novi Sad from the most mental artists of the area. Their biggest hit from those early times was “Apa kocsit hajt” and they still have a similar attitude although with more coherent music and lyrics. It was great fun seeing them and listening to their crazy lyrics and frontman Máriás pretending to think he’s at Lake Balaton.

If you like the music of the 1960s, check out Ivan & the Parazol. They are a young Hungarian band whose biggest influence is certainly The Rolling Stones. Although not revolutionary, Ivan & the Parazol have good songs and their performance is great with a Keith imitator on the guitar. While we’re in the 60s: I also caught Kerekes band’s awesome cover of Voodoo Chile (slight return). And to close this topic I’ll try to be on time for Nemjuci next time. The songs on youtube had not really convinced me, but their last two songs live reminded me of the more energetic Jefferson Airplane tracks (like Milk train and Eat starch, mom) so I’ll give them another try next time.

The closing act of Volt for me was a local grunge cover band (named Grunge Acoustic/Electric I believe). They played Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc. For me it was perfect to end Volt, and I was ready for the post-festival depression with Even Flow in my ears. All in all Volt was highly successful. Despite the total of 110 000 visitors (which broke a new record), there was a family atmosphere and even the performers spoke highly about Volt. For example the singer of Hurts said that among the festivals he has attended, Volt is the best festival after Glastonbury; and I already mentioned Jacoby Shaddix trying out the slide, then he was among the audience during Billy Talent’s concert. What was the best on Volt? Impossible to say; if you ask a hundred people, you’ll get 110 different answers. That just shows how many people Volt can satisfy and at the end of the day that’s what counts.

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About János Gömöri

János Gömöri
János lives in Budapest. He is interested in music, history, coding and linguistics.

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