New Owners Wait On Sziget Result

As the festival finished August 17 and Hungary took a break to celebrate the founding of the country a couple of days later, Econet – the new owner of Sziget Festival – hasn’t been able to see how its new investment has fared.

Reports at press time suggested it was a decent year, which would have been much better if not for the storms brewing over central Europe, including one that took 10 hours to dump its load on the third day of Frequency Festival in Austria.

Dan Panaitescu, who books Sziget’s international acts, said organisers were a little worried because a fan was killed and two more were seriously injured when high winds blew a branch from a tree at Serbia’s Exit Festival.

“There were storm warnings on the radio just before the weekend of Sziget saying people shouldn’t go out, and I think maybe some young fans who had tickets were not allowed to come,” Panaitescu explained.

The storm was nothing near as violent as the weather forecasters predicted, although Sex Pistols, Die Ärzte, and The Cribs played in miserable weather.

It was a disappointing lull for a festival that kicked off with what Hungarian newspapers reckoned to be a 60,000-strong crowd for Iron Maiden August 12.

As sales of the full six-day ticket were estimated at about 40,000 it’s unlikely, given the popular day tickets are still being counted, that the Hungarian media giant is unhappy with the deal.

Econet stumped up roughly euro 5 million ($7.37 million) – 26 percent of the festival value – in March. The other 74 percent was split across four annual payments that fall due between 2009 and 2012.

Asked if fans showed any reaction to the event being under new ownership, Panaitescu said, “There was a small piece in the papers and more in the financial papers back in January, but there hasn’t been anything since.

“I think the people who read it then have probably forgotten about it now, and there’s been no change in the way the festival is organised and operated,” he added.

The terms of the Econet deal commit former festival owners Karoly Gerendai and Gábor Takács remaining in charge of the Budapest event for a contractual minimum of five years.

The only other mishap of the weekend happened to Australian drum and bass act Pendulum, which made it to Obudai Island but couldn’t play because the equipment truck was involved in a road accident in Slovakia.

Two of the crew are believed to have been injured, but newswire reports suggest they weren’t seriously hurt.

Other acts playing the famous festival by The Danube August 12-17 included R.E.M, The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Jamiroquai, Die Ärzte, Sex Pistols and Alanis Morissette.