What I’d give for a good nights sleep. Not only is there a huge time difference that has me sleeping until noon Budapest time (3 AM LA time), it’s starting to get hot and muggy and my apartment has no AC or even a fan. But I’m not complaining. In the U.S. I’m usually quite comfortable… and quite bored.
In Budapest things move at a more relaxed pace (even by California standards and certainly by New York standards). I notice there are very few honking cars, few people yapping or tapping on their cell phones… there is more person to person interaction and conversation for conversation’s sake and for the traveler, a genuine but not smothering type of friendliness. Perhaps it’s because I “somewhat” blend in here. I don’t stand out by my skin color and am often asked if I’m “Dutch” or “German”.
People gather in public spaces to drink wine and enjoy the mild summer evenings. They party, oh yes, they party, but I never saw anyone getting out of control. People show up to meetings on time and call when they say they will. No flaking here…at least not yet.
There is a lot to like about Budapest and as if I needed even more of a reason to like Budapest, there most certainly is a healthy punk, psychobilly and rockabilly scene here. First… the punk scene.
BANKRUPT IN BUDAPEST:
I saw posters everywhere where Iggy and the Stooges are headlining a concert in July to play the Volt Music Festival. The California punk band “Total Chaos” had recently toured and was featured in their tourist magazine. a punk band featured in a tourist magazine? Yep!
Then there are bands like Bankrupt. I met up with Rocco, lead singer of the melodic punk band “Bankrupt” which has been rocking Budapest for 16 years! During our interview, Rocco filled me in on the punk scene in Hungary before and after the fall of communism in 1989. It seems before the fall of communism, many punk bands were illegal, some even imprisoned for their lyrics which were critical of the communist regime. Rocco was a teen when communism was on it’s last legs in Hungary but he remembered punk bands railing against the left.
Fast forward to 2012 and the pendulum has swung to the other side, as many bands are railing against the right and capitalism, which could leave one to believe that punks are never happy with the status quo, even if the status quo may be better than the recent past. My buddies from Trinidad, “Anti-Everything” comes to mind.
So much to be against, so little time.
Of course there is no perfect system of government and both communism and capitalism have their very clear faults. While the government no longer imprisons bands for incenderary lyrics and police no longer harass punks openly, Rocco admitted there was still plenty for punks to protest against, noting that Hungary was ranked near the bottom of the list of all world governments for corruption and outside the tourists’ zones and city center, poverty is a clear reminder that capitalism leaves far too many behind. I think we’re all still waiting for the Wall Street fat cats who’ve caused so much misery throughout the world, to suffer the consequences of their actions. Maybe that’s why the band put out a lists of Top 10 songs bout recession and unemployment on their blog, it’s a cool list, check it here.
But Rocco also readily admits that not every song Bankrupt sings is against anything at all. Some of it is just plain good old fashioned melodic punk music with nary a heavy message in sight. I’ve got their CD so I can’t wait to give it a listen (no CD/DVD player on my travel PC) and report back to you in more detail on Bankrupt.
Rocco is 37 now. He has a wife and is expecting his first born in November. And I can vouch for the fact that Rocco is a good husband and sure to be a good father. After the interview he accompanied me across the street from our interview to the Killing-billy psychobilly show to “show his support” for his psychobilly brethren and provide some much needed translation for me at the door, but he left after the 1st band to be with his pregnant wife. I didn’t even get a chance to buy him a beer as a thank you (still owe you one Rocco). But after 16 years, his band is starting to see the fruits of their labor pay off, recently recieving airplay on MTV Hungary for one of their DIY music videos, which I have to say, remind me of the hey day of the music videos from the 1980’s.
Since I didn’t get to see Bankrupt perform live, below is one of their music videos that I dig.
Stay tuned, up next, coverage from the crazy Killing-Billy psychobilly/punk show. As you can tell by the photos below, it was a bloody good time!