Sziget To Throw Mayor Of All Parties

After getting over the most recent of the seemingly endless spats with Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos, Sziget Festival is making a few changes for the 2011 event.

With Tarlos apparently happy to settle for about 2 percent of the $12 million that Hungarian radio reports said he wanted, the old Eastern Bloc’s first major festival is reconfiguring parts of its 108-hectare island site and giving a few of its dozen or so stages the chance to draw a bigger audience.

It looks as if Sziget may be expecting that the compromise with Tarlos, which also involves the festival generating close to a half-million dollars of tourist revenue for Budapest, will make its fans want to celebrate. The size of two of the party stages is being dramatically increased.

The Party Arena, Sziget’s mainstream electro venue, will grow by 30 percent and move to a bigger tent. The Meduza Tent, another of its electro venues, will also double in size.

The rock-metal stage, which has previously been in a 6,000-capacity tent that’s usually close to full, will move outside to a new 15,000-capacity area.

There will be another new open-air stage called Europe Stage, for new upcoming European acts that are known in their own countries but so far haven’t crossed borders.

The Roma Tent, one of the main stages devoted to ethnic music, is also getting more space. It’s the 10th anniversary for Roma, which has a strong Balkan music program featuring mainly Central-Eastern European artists, and Sziget estimates that this year the area will need to accommodate more than the usual crowd of 3,000-plus.

Demonstrating how it can straddle being a contemporary live music event and a multi-cultural gathering with a strong Balkan influence, the festival is creating a new venue called Eastern-European Travelling Funfair.

Sziget international talent booker Dan Panaitescu says he can’t blame the distraction caused by the fuss with the mayor for his taking longer on this year’s billing.

“When I began looking, there seemed to be less acts available this year and a few of the top ones wanted more than we could pay,” he explained.

So far the Aug. 10-15 lineup includes Motorhead, The Chemical Brothers, Sohne Mannheims, Hadouken, Pulp, Judas Priest, Dizzee Rascal, Rise Against, Marina & The Diamonds, Interpol, Sonata Arctica, Gogol Bordello, Crystal Castles and Skunk Anansie.