The live-music scene in Hungary is buzzing – every night in Budapest, enthusiastic bandmates lug instruments to venues big and small for high-spirited concerts of pop, rock, hip-hop, alternative music, and more. Locals keenly crowd into clubs to check out Hungary’s modern musical talents, and you’ll also be amazed by the new sounds being produced here nowadays.
Major music festivals like Sziget, Balaton Sound, and Volt each offer chances to see a huge spectrum of Hungarian bands, while concert venues in Budapest such as A38, Gozsdu Manó Klub, Akvárium Klub, and Mika Tivadar all host musical acts on a regular basis.
We headed to last weekend’s Fishing on Orfű festival – happening every June in southern Hungary near Pécs – to meet some fresh Hungarian musicians playing there. Here is a list of what we discovered, along with some cool upcoming gigs to check out this summer – you’ll find breezy pop, bluesy folk tunes, jazzy ska sounds, headbanging metal, raucous rap, and everything else in between.
This band got together in 2009 because they didn’t want to miss a party. There was an event in Solymár for bands only, so they formed Meztelen Diplomaták and joined the fun.
This five-member boy band with a beat-pop style continually makes inroads ever since with their resoundingly positive sound. They describe their music as happy and energetic, capturing the spirit of life’s beautiful-yet-burdensome events.
Ádám Barát (drums), Mátyás Elek (bass guitar), János Seltsam (solo guitar), Gyula Szacsvay (keyboards), and Attila Tóth (vocals, rhythm guitar) say they’re inspired by pop, indie rock, the ’60s, and guitar music of the early 2000s.
Their favorite Hungarian bands are Amorf Ördögök, Ivan & the Parazol, Kex, and Kispál és a Borz. For those new to Hungarian music, they recommend Péterfy Bori & Love Band and VHK, but they say up-and-coming bands like Plush, Middlemist Red, Run Over Dogs and Pegazusok Nem Léteznek (see below) are cool to check out as well.
The irreverent name of Meztelen Diplomaták means ‘Naked Diplomats’, and after recording their first album in 2013 the group headed out to celebrate. By midnight, in below-freezing temperatures, the five guys were running through the streets – naked, of course!
Meztelen Diplomaták’s upcoming concerts:
July 9: guest act before Pál Utcai Fiúk at Budapest Park
July 17-19: Bánkitó Fesztival
This three-member acoustic hip-hop band uses looped guitars and beatbox to sound like oh-so-much more. Even if you can’t understand the Hungarian lyrics (sometimes rapped so fast that even Hungarians can’t always understand them), their melodies are catchy and you’ll be humming the refrains for hours.
This cheeky trio is made up of rapper Viktor Nagy with guitarists Borsa Balogh and András Lukovich, and while the ensemble is just two years old, they already claim to be the best band in history. Already they’ve worked together with artists like Nelli Nagyváradi.
Gyík zenekar say Hungarian bands like Fish! and Hiperkarma are worth listening to, as well as the Magyar headliners at any of Hungary’s bigger music festivals.
Gyík zenekar recently premiered their newest music video, and their first album is due for release in late 2014.
Gyík zenekar’s upcoming concerts:
July 7: Valyo Part
July 26: Művészetek Völgye Festival (Valley of Arts Festival), Taliándörögd village
July 27: Lőke Kúria at Taliándörögd village
August 9: 7vége az ég alatt (Weekend Under the Sky) at Úny
Pegazusok Nem Léteznek
Pegazusok Nem Léteznek started when Lázár Domokos wrote a song and showed it to his songstress friend Eszter Ács. Later they were joined by Lázár Ágoston (drums) and Németh Róbert (bass guitar), and they now collaborate on songs as a group.
This band has a melancholy sound that’s at once soft and powerful. The lead singer’s voice is beautiful, and the sounds produced by this group are not unlike internationally famous bands like Angus and Julia Stone.
The band’s favorite Hungarian group is Szagos Hörigekkók, but they also recommend Middlemist Red, a Blahalouisiana, and Elefánt. They suggest foreigners should check out Hungarian folk music, and if they’re interested in modern Hungarian music they recommend Kispál és a Borz, saying that their melancholy tunes reflect Hungary’s Eastern-European vibes.
After releasing a few singles and EPs, in April 2014 Pegazusok Nem Léteznek released their debut album.
Pegazusok Nem Léteznek’s upcoming concerts:
Junkie Jack Flash
Junkie Jack Flash has been gaining a lot of attention since forming in 2012 in the city of Pécs. They’re taking an old-school approach, saying their influences are the ’70s and ’80s rock ‘n’ roll style in the footsteps of Aerosmith, AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, and Guns n’ Roses.
Junkie Jack Flash says its music deals with simple issues like girls and partying – and when we asked for some funny stories about the band, they said none are publishable.
They recommend that those new to modern Hungarian music should check out Ivan & the Parazol, although they say there’s no shortage of good music in this country.
Last year Junkie Jack Flash won the R33 nationwide talent contest, and earlier this year they released their first album.
Junkie Jack Flash’s upcoming concerts:
June 27: Dürer Kert
August 11: Rockmaraton in Pécs
August 30: A38
Different incarnations of this progressive rock band have been around for three years, but the current Dereng lineup of Viktor ‘Nárcisz’ Máris (vocals), Csaba Bokros (guitar), István ‘Baxi’ Bakos (bass guitar), and Dávid ‘Page’ Pap (drums) has been solid for the past year.
Drummer Page says that for him, the band’s music is about freedom and happiness, although each band member connects with the lyrics in his own way.
Page recommends Hungary’s Fish! or Óriás, saying they both provide amazing experiences if you can catch them live. And he says Isten Háta Mögött is the most exciting Hungarian band around.
“Hungary is lucky with its talented and good bands, so I recommend everyone go to any live-music venue with an open mind and an interest in finding out about new music,” Page says.
If you’re into rock, listen to some Dereng songs here.
Dereng’s upcoming concerts:
August 15: A38 rooftop terrace
StabilFrazír has too many band members to list: eight in total, playing everything from the violin to the saxophone and even the trumpet. You could say the style sits somewhere close to stiff ska and reggae rhythms mixed with Hungarian and Balkan folk sounds.
The band says the lyrics are ironic, critical, funny, nostalgic, and eternal in nature. And the band aims to produce a high-quality, professional sound that’s also fun to dance to.
You can find StabilFrazír performing all around the country as they try and show their music to as many people as possible while building up a following. StabilFrazír says that aside from festivals and concerts, the band’s main interests are its ‘girl fans.’ Check out the music here.
Viktor says non-Hungarians may find the frenetic pace of the Hungarian music scene and its myriad festivals and concerts to be mesmerizing, but he says it’s worth diving in. ‘There’s plenty of treasure to be found in Hungarian music… you may just have to dig deeper,’ he says.
Téveszme’s upcoming concerts:
July 12: Rockmaraton in Pécs
July 19: Hell-Ville Fest in Bősárkány