I promised this some time ago, as a lot of you seemed to be interested when I had posted this photo of Billie Joe with local reporter who went to Sziget ‘98. Finally got around to do it. Please, be aware that Ana Tomić’s writing style is pretty odd, that the article is titled One DAY at the Sziget and it’s talking about an entire week spent there…and whatnot. Either way - thanks for your patience, hope you enjoy it. I bolded the parts about Green Day.
That’s something to survive! I’m no longer wondering why journalists are supposed to have certain benefits. Almost a week with no sleep, whatsoever. Why? Well, the nights on the [Obudai] island are so cold that I feel like I would have died without a bit of help from the people in the First Aid tent. That’s where I’d beg for a blanket, of course, until the guys from Green Day who knew about my pain brought me a beautiful blanket from the Hilton [hotel] - let’s hope the hotel staff won’t read this and sue Billie.
However, even if you’re good at standing cold, sounds from the speakers will be waking you at the break of dawn already. Rockin’ wake-up call! One morning was particularly interesting, when the sounds of “Mesečina” [theme from Emir Kusturica’s “Underground” film] were blasting across the island.
I’m getting out crawling out of my single tent and the feeling of cold is growing stronger as I see people sleeping on the lawn. Some in sleeping bags, some - not. But drinks are keeping them warm, right?
Now, morning hygiene is half the way to good health…but that doesn’t matter as much when you’re at Sziget. The less persistent people put back the toothbrushes in their pockets when they see the endless lines leading to the improvised bathroom. It is possible to shower. With cold water, of course. Luckily (so you wouldn’t think something wrong about me), us journalists have a hot shower in the press centre, but the hot water is running almost exclusively in the early motning hours. The supplies of it are limited, especially knowing how many accredited reporters are there.
For the breakfast, people are getting by the best way they know. A lot of booths sell popular pastries, burek [type of a pastry originating from Turkey and popular in middle Europe and the Balkans], sandwiches, slow cookers. Traditional sausages, virsli [weiner type common for the Balkans and Hungary]; but also piles of fruits and veggies. Since I have a strict diet, I’m keeping my macrobiotic supplies in a hidden department of the tent, so the breakfast is for me just a tiny moment of peace before the total madness that’s about to begin around noon.
But the friends are OK. Young Slovenians, Bosnians, people from Vojvodina [northern province of Serbia], Hungarians and other music fans are hanging around in a true neighbour manner - they’re dropping by to talk about the events past and those that have not taken place yet, of musicians and unusual events. Hungarians, despite their poor English, are trying as much as possible. I have to cut them some slack and give them some praise as they even helped me raise the tent when I ran into the usual problems with the sticks and ropes.
The first press conferences start at about 15h [3 PM]. Arrival of the stars is followed with a lot of publicity. Bands are usually arriving in shuttles, surrounded by tight security, apart from Coolio who was acting naturally during the entire week and the guys from Green Day who would appear from nowhere; in the manner typical to Genesis whom people used to call “wizards” for this very reason.
Billie Joe is slightly nervous because he’s going to become a father for the second time one of these days. His wife is eight months pregnant and that’s the only reason she’s not accompanying him at the festival.
Press conferences are not the real deal. The real stuff happens onstage. With my photographer’s pass, I’m able to climb up. Now I understand how important the security and safety rules are. On the stage, with my back to the audience, I’m safe, because I know no bottle and no cigarette lighter would hit me from the audience. The worst that can happen is ending up with a sweaty shirt over your head.
The closing time at the festival is, in my opinion, coming too early. The lights on the main stage are slowly being turned out at about 23h [11 PM] already. The other stages echo with music for a couple hours more, which is the reason the sleep time comes only when one’s completely exhausted. All tired, I close my eyes, but not for long. The mosquitos are true metalheads, blood-thirsty to the bone. The battle has started and the scares are yet to be counted.