As I write this I’m rolling through Serbia on a slow moving train headed to Belgrade. My cabin mates speak a strange (to me) language I can’t begin to understand. It’s hot and I don’t remember sweating so profusely while sitting still in a long time. Rolling by is an intermittent landscape of beautiful greenery as far as the eyes can see followed by small, sleepy villages with people riding bicycles, I get the feeling for more for transportation than recreation.
My mind turns back to Budapest and how “1st world” it seems by comparison. It’s an 8 hour or so train ride and I haven’t eaten since this morning, I’ve seen the only 2 movies I can possibly watch on my laptop and I just can’t read any more books or magazines. I think back to the Kill-Billy show in Budapest and of the bloody good time we had.
It was a hot, humid Friday night in Budapest and time for the big Kill-Billy Psychobilly show. After my interview with punk stalwarts “Bankrupt” it was time to take in some Psychobilly music and hopefully interview the legends in the scene, Gorilla.
The venue was big, with multiple concert halls under one roof and an outdoor beer garden for the smokers. If you’ve ever been to Webster Hall in NYC, it was sort of something like that, with different shows going on at the same time. I heard a hardcore show was going on next door but never got the chance to check it out.
The guys from Horibillies had graciously put me on the guest list. Rocco from “Bankrupt” wanted to show his support for the bands and helped me navigate my way in so that we both could take in the Horibillies sound check. My first impression was that the the crowd was going to be light, but by the time the Horibillies took the stage officially around 8:15 PM (20:15 Budapest time) the place was beginning to fill up with a variety of punks, psychobilly and other rabid fans.
Horibillies got the crowd properly worked up like any first band should but often don’t. By the end of their set people were cheering for more. Most of their songs seemed to be in English (a theme that would be repeated with most of the bands this night) and my favorites was the song “All Night Long” that I had the chance to preview during sound check.
Best I could tell included the lyrics “I like to go out drinking all night long.. all night long… all night long”. Ho-Ri, the lead singer put so much energy into belting out “all night long” it was impossible not to tap your foot (or more appendages) to it. Ho Ri, Papp (guitar), Smid (drums) and Fabian (bass), put the billy in this music. Ho Ri was moving and dancing and taking advantage of having nothing but the microphone. He bobbed his head and moved to the fast rocking beat so much that it was impossible not to get caught up in the frenzy. I think once he did a little Hungarian/Hillbilly jig that would have been at home on the movie set if “Brother Where Art Thou”.
After their raucous set, we went backstage and the guys were riled up and ready to “drink all night long” shoving a big beer (does anyone drink small ones anywhere but the U.S.?) in my hand and insisting a take a swig of their (homemade?) liquor before we got down to the business of the interview. Their English was not the best, so for the first time this trip, I used an interpreter, who happened to be one of their good buddies along for the ride. But somehow, and I’m not sure how this happened, it felt I actually thought I understood their answers? Could my Hungarian, of which I have yet to even master “köszönöm” (thank you!) somehow, magically be getting better? Nahhh.. must have been the Hungarian liquor.
Next up was Silvershine and I admit I was not prepared for the punk sounding fury that emanated from these guys. Silvershine consist of a talented drummer, very cool guitarist/lead singer (Ati Edge) and a pretty, petite and shy female stand up bass player (Krista Kat). Krista Kat is shy that is until she’s on stage and let it rip and man did she let that bass thump! You can’t help but think how such a petite girl can completely own a big instrument like the stand up bass, but she does. Krista Kat is not afraid to throw the bass over her head and around the stage and show it who’s boss.
When Silvershine came on I immediately got the feeling I was witnessing something more than your average Psychobilly band. Their range of sound was unique and to be honest, it felt more like a punk band that happened to have a kick ass stand up bass player. In fact, in our interview backstage before the show, the guys said they considered themselves more punk than Psychobilly, with many of their influences firmly set in the punk genre.
After seeing their incredible set which built to a point where I thought the room would explode, I’m a believer in Silvershine. I distinctly remember realizing somewhere in the middle of the Silvershine show that I am the luckiest guy in the world traveling the planet and documenting the punk scene in a place as cool as Budapest, Hungary.
By the time they hit their big finale, the crowd with me included, were in such a frenzy I could barely get off a decent photo. The pit was in full swing and things were getting interesting. The girls, weren’t afraid to mix it up in the crowd and best I could tell were shown no preferential treatment.
Next it was time for the ORIGINAL Psychobilly band in all of Hungary, Gorilla (don’t get it twisted this is not “Gorillaz”). The brothers Pete (guitar/vocals) and Tom (Stand up bass) Gorilla and Tubush (Drummer) are super tight musicians. You could tell these guys had played together for 20 years. You could also tell that Pete and Tom are brothers. They look like brothers, they act like brothers and needed no communication between them other than their music.
Before the show, the pit and crowd had taken on a new dimension, which meant still fired up but consisting of (mostly) different faces and wearing their Gorilla T shirts. The pit, while not exactly a dangerous place, was the kind of place that you might want to avoid if the sight of blood made you queasy. Yes, I have been in dozens of pits across the world and this is the first time I recall several people actually bleeding and you know what… it’s way more fun than it sounds.
After a masterfully executed set, Gorilla finally played their last encore for the rabid crowd and I was able to catch up with them in the beer garden where they graciously filled me in on the beginnings of the Psychobilly scene in Hungary and other parts of Eastern Europe. These guys are pioneers and it shows in their music and in their knowledge of the Psychobilly music scene worldwide.
I’ve posted some photos from the night in the post and if you want to see the full set from our trip to Hungary go HERE.
I will have video from the respective band that played Killing-Billy up real soon, so stay tuned.
I’ve now, finally, arrived in Belgrade and I need to try and figure out how to get from the train station to the apartment I rented. Taxis are a rip off from the station I’ve heard, so I’ve got to figure something out. Wish me luck!