A Christmas Punking Miracle


vianocny punk.jpgHardcore Punk. Avant-Garde grandpas. A genderfluid DnB DJ. A Slovak-language cover of Where’s Me Jumper.

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending a “Christmas Punk” show in Fuga (Which is an antiquated word for “hole” in Slovak).  The 9 euro entry included free punch, which contained an unholy amount of Brandy.

The Wilderness were in the middle of their set when we arrived. Pretty standard 3-piece hardcore punk with lyrics that were obviously politically charged. My understanding of Slovak allowed me to only recognize when the singer shouted “cunt”, and the local anti-immigrant, far-right Kotleba party.

After this, Ještě Jsme Se Nedohodli (Czech for We Have Not Yet Agreed), a gang of men in their late 50s/early 60s took to the stage. They proceeded to play some fucked up jazzy Avant-Garde rock. I was agape watching them, as I had never heard this kind of stuff performed live before. My girlfriend advised me that there were many Czech and Slovak bands like this, which sent me down a rabbit hole for the last few days.

Next was Saténové Ruky (Satin Fists) – a band of pop-punk dads. I was most shocked to hear them cover Where’s Me Jumper, by Sultans of Ping FC who hail from Cork city. This was absolutely the last thing I expected to hear.

Closing out the bands was Vydrapená Bužírka Punk System (Built-In Punk System). A bunch of guys who were doing their absolute best impression of an British punk band from the late 70s (hodgepodge glam attire, eyeliner, catchy riffs) whose drummer-vocalist sported a brush-head in lieu of a mohawk. They had a guy on stage whose sole duty in the band was to go around the crowd with a tray of shots of Borovicka.

Then, for some reason, the night ended with B-Complex, a liquid DnB producer and DJ taking the stage. B (aka Matia) is genderfluid and performs dressed like a cross between Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse. She laid down some great tracks to which I danced vigorously – though not all the aging punks in attendance shared my enthusiasm. Why oh why there was a DnB act on after 4 punk bands, I do not know. I guess it’s a pretty punk thing to do.  I went up to him and said that I enjoyed her set at Pohoda, Slovakia’s premier music festival. He has a great taste in ass, as was evidenced by the asses attached to her dancers at the Pohoda show, who were not present with him in Fuga.

It was insane value for money, and a great look at the cool music going on in Slovakia in the past and the present.

A Christmas Punking Miracle

Bratislava Diaries #1

Squatting Slovaks
International Squatting Day Bratislava

Winter arrived on Friday, in a thin blanket of snow*. The flies buzzing around my apartment are getting slower in the cold weather. It’s like they’ve given up all hope of escaping my bedroom, accepting their swatting after only a brief pursuit. This great payback after all the problems I had over the summer with flies, crickets and the seemingly millions of other creepy crawlies the Slovak summer gifted me.

The Central European climate also gifted me a solid eight months of T-shirt weather, from around April to October. Not having to wear a jumper every day was a breath of fresh air. In the beginning and end of this period, people asked me if I was cold. I replied no, I’m Irish.

Petrazalka, the socialist-era concrete jungle located in the south of the city.

I work for Amazon, renaming sex toys among other things. It’s a good job. Very relaxed environment. I live super close to the office too – my morning commute it a ten minute walk. For similar luxury in, say, Dublin I would be paying significantly more. Plus I would have to live in Dublin.

I feel like after a year here, I’ve found my footing and a rhythm to my life that suits me. I still pine for home very now and again – as I’m sure my family and friends at home pine for me – but, I’m only a quick plane ride away.

I drink mainly in my not-quite-local, Goblins Pub. This bar is pretty much the reason I came to this city at first, and it has yet to do me wrong with providing me a network of friends and companions with whom I have shared some great times. The beauty of of Goblins is that it’s not an Irish pub, but simply run by an Irishman. It’s as if you picked up a pub from under the streets of Cork (it’s a cellar bar) and dropped it in Central Europe. It differs from bars in Ireland in two key areas – pricing and opening times. You can get very drunk for ten euro. And you can do so until 4am at the weekends.

There’s lots of other stuff happening here apart from the bar culture. There’s a lot of punk rock bands here. During summer you can go watch the local DIY punk scene in action in a shed in the middle of nowhere, with a fridge full of beers and a guy cooking veggie burgers. Local bands play along touring international acts.  As far as electronic music goes, all the kids are listening to Hard DnB/Neurofunk in the likes of Subclub and NuSpirit. The techno scene is a lot smaller here than in Ireland. Which is good, because I find techno kinda boring under most circumstances.

Milos, Wild Elephant’s hairy receptionist

I would be remiss to leave out the Wild Elephants hostel, where I lived and worked for a few months. This hostel is everything you would expect from a backpacker hostel, while still retaining the bohemian spirit that I felt was lacking in a lot of the places I’ve stayed in the surrounding countries. Much of the staff are certifiably insane. I thought I knew how to party, but these people showed me what true commitment to the party lifestyle looks like. Sesh demons. Unfortunately real life beckoned and I got a job. I wound up moving in to an apartment after maybe two months there, because I didn’t trust myself to be up on time for work in that environment. I drop by every now and again.

Sasha, my roommate and onetime coworker.

I worked with some of the hostel people after I moved out as a pub crawl leader. That was some crazy shit. Getting paid to drink is dangerous for me. It was also dangerous for the people whom we liquored up with our Borovicka Guns (those being super soakers filled with the traditional Slovak spirit Borovicka).  One night I made four separate people throw up – my shame and pride intensifying with each successive pool of vomit. My association with this job ended with the tourist season. While I was getting paid to drink, it was also work. Corralling a group of Aussies who are disappointment with the dismal midweek nightlife of this town (and who paid a nice price for the privilege of experiencing it) is not my idea of a good time.

I’ve been living in an apartment with a Ruski/Maltese and a Slovak who lived in Dublin for many years. These guys are the best flatmates I could have asked for. We’re all messy fucks and we all like to drink. Noise complaints from any of us to each other are rare. The apartment itself is sweet too. No living room, but that’s common here. In my area of the city, at least, the hot water comes on instantly. The same with heating. Gotta love that socialist infrastructure.

I’m leaving a hell of a lot out. I’ve been here for 13 months already, so this is to be expected. I will be expanding on this in the future, with more present happenings and developments, and more references to some of the stupid Oscar shit I’ve been getting up to, as well as the cool Oscar shit. I’m uncertain of how much I should sanitize. Well see as we go.

Life is grand

(* Fun Slovak lesson – I’ve seen people on social media calling snow “Biela hovna” which means “White shit”.)

Bratislava Diaries #1