I’m a tad disappointed this week. I thought perhaps it was just the post-Paddy’s Day blues. When you have had such a good time, it’s hard to come back to reality. But what I’m suffering from isn’t just case of the colours. And it’s more than disappointment – I’d go so far as to say that I’ve become disillusioned.
I’ve written a couple of posts on Firkin – that fab Hungarian band that plies its trade in Irish punk. Their stage energy and enthusiasm are hard to match and the passion they bring to their music would convince anyone that they’re Irish through and through.
I saw them play in the basement of Instant on Sunday. My third time seeing them live. Even though the acoustics sucked, I was carried away by the foot-stompin’, head-bangin’ music – basking in the energy and the vibes emanating from the packed stage. With a lead singer (Marthy Barna) who could give Colin Farrell a run for his money, and a flautist (János Péter) who tickles my fancy every time I see him in action, what wasn’t there to like.
And then Barna asked who in the audience was Irish. A couple of hands went up and a couple of souls shouted out. He dedicated the next song to them with the words ‘Because you’re Irish, this song’s for you’. My heart was melting (with the heat, most likely, but the emotion was there, too). Then came the song: F*&K the British Army.
Cmon lads, how long as it been and you’re still getting high on this stuff? The room, the majority of which was Hungarian, erupted. It’s obviously a popular song. Now I like some of the old rebel songs – it wasn’t long ago that I was on a bus back from Mohács urging the inimitable GO’R to give us a belt of the Men Behind the Wire, cautioning everyone present to remember the times in which it was written. For me, it’s more an account of how Belfast used to be that an incitement to hatred in 2014. That was then. This is now. And you might say I’m splitting hairs here, being hypocritical even. Perhaps I am.
Yet this mindless appreciation for anti-British sentiment really bothered me. We’ve come so far. It’s not 1980s San Francisco or Boston, or even Dublin. We’re in 2014 for God’s sake – in Hungary. A country that has had its fair share of occupation, a country that wants to move forward. And there they were – my heros, Firkin – doing their bit to set us back. Not deliberately, I’m sure – which to my mind, makes it even worse.
Now, I thought I might have been overreacting. So I mentioned it to a few others – Irish – who had missed the gig. They weren’t impressed either. I’m all for patriotism. I’m all for the underdog standing up and being counted. I’m all for the power of music to band people together – but if there’s a cause, let it be mindful, and let it be current.
Maybe I need to lighten up…