It Sounds That Loud, Your Honor

The legal action that the mayor of the 4th district of Budapest is bringing against Sziget Festival over noise took an amusing turn in court when the judge admitted to not knowing how loud 62 decibels actually sounds.

The February 14 hearing was adjourned until May 22, when the organisers will demonstrate a noise that’s been measured at exactly that level.

This is the second time that Dr. Tamas Derce, the mayor of Újpest district, has brought a noise case against Sziget.

The first was in 2002, which the Budapest District Court threw out because the festival hadn’t actually broken any noise regs.

Mayor Derce says that 62 decibels is too loud at the nearest residential properties, although Sziget managing director and co-owner Gabor Takacs says "you could sleep through it."

The outcome of the case could technically affect the sale of the company that organises the festival to media giant Econet, although Takacs doesn’t see it as a problem.

The deal is potentially worth US$30 million and the first payment – about a quarter of that – has already been made, although Econet is able to pull out if the case doesn’t go well.

The media company doesn’t appear to have too many qualms about that as it made the first payment, scheduled for after the February 14 hearing, despite the fact that it was adjourned until May and the final outcome is still to be decided.

Takacs is confident that Derce’s action will be filed where the court put the first one and doesn’t see it as being a setback to the Econet deal – which includes Sziget, Volt Festival and Balaton Sound – or the festival’s future.

"I don’t see that the court will take notice of a few people who are complaining about noise that’s below the level allowed," he told Pollstar before the first hearing.

Sziget has already cut from this year’s event from eight days to six and will be closing down the metal stage at 11 p.m. Noise-reducing walls will be built around the loudest stages.

The acts already confirmed for this year’s bill August 12-17 include Iron Maiden, Flogging Molly, Kaiser Chiefs, Apocalyptica, Die Aerzte, Kasabian, Sex Pistols and Danko Jones.