Raving Budapest – Clubs & Sound Systems in the Hungarian Capital

LÄRM

The opening of LÄRM in 2014 filled a void in the Budapest techno scene. A club with fantastic sound – powered by Martin Audio – and a dedication to high end Berlin-style techno. The club got everything right upon opening, a simple dark space with good loud music and attracted a somewhat cult following. The club is located on the second floor of the well known ruin pub Fogas ház, yet most of the tourist crowd don’t seem to find their way upstairs.

As with many clubs in Budapest, LÄRM remains closed in the summer, whether to stop the influx of tourists, the high temperatures, or to do renovations, this seems to be a good idea. The introduction of more lights and a ‘strobe-room’ after one summer alienated lots of the people who had been attending every weekend and gave the club a tacky feeling. 2016 has seen some of these features stripped back with a darker mood returning with the introduction of a no photography rule.

Bookings are reliable if not slightly limited in scope. Notable artists who have played in 2016 include: Aurora Halal, Call Super, Matrixxman, The Black Madonna and Peter Van Hoesen. While some may argue that such a great venue with such a good system should be used for other genres of music, LÄRM remains the go to club in Budapest for techno.

AETHER

Opened in 2015, Aether is the new techno kid on the block. Set in the basement of 4BRO, featuring minimal decor with LED walls, Aether is the only club in Budapest with a full Funktion One system.

The music seems to stick within the tech-house genre, very inoffensive but hard to truly be passionate about. An exception is the highly impressive analogue soul event by Ramin Sayyah, in which Ramin brings enormous amounts of analogue equipment and plays live techno all night.

Unfortunately the biggest issue with Aether is the crowd, the clientele seem more interested in taking Instagram pictures of each other than high end paper-coned loudspeakers. This is a club to be seen at. Extensive use of party photography by the club only further emphasises that this is a highly image conscious venue.

CORVIN CLUB

Corvin Club (previously Corvintető) has had one of the longest and most storied histories of any of the current Budapest clubs. Situated on top of a 1920s shopping mall, it’s a two roomed club which features a huge roof top terrace.

Corvin has taken on a few personalities throughout the years and so can’t be pigeon-holed into one identity. The venue also changes a lot based on when you visit. In the summer, hundreds of tourists can be found drinking in the sun on the roof every night of the week, a mixture of techno and house nights are intertwined with roof top cinema nights and electro/indie nights. In the winter the venue focuses more on techno and house and the terrace is only used for those brave enough to face the cold for a cigarette.

The dedication to having something on most nights is definitely admirable and Corvin is definitely the club for those with the most stamina. Frequent 24 hour parties and the Contra Mundum after hours parties held on Sunday mornings are for those who just want to keep on going and are a much needed addition to the Budapest clubbing scene.

MÜSZI

Müszi is a mixed purpose cultural venue based in the same building as Corvin. A vast space with many rooms and studios, it claims to host an average of 120 events a month. Müszi is unique in that because it is a mixed use space, promoters can bring their own sound systems when they host events, this enables genres like dub and bass heavier music to be played the way it should be. The monthly nights organised by Dub Phase Sound System are a good example of this.

Müszi is an interesting place to the explore the Budapest music scene with frequent showcases from local labels and artists. The DIY feel of the place mixed with maze of corridors make it an interesting venue to enjoy the music but also be able to sit in a corner somewhere drinking and talking the night through.

TOLDI KLUB

Toldi is a cinema which has a large bar/lobby which turns into a club and event space at night time. Unfortunately over the years Toldi has garnered a reputation as a place where you rather stand outside than in, on any given Friday or Saturday night you will find the cities scenesters chain smoking out front. Poor quality sound and glass frontage meant that it never felt quite dark and loud enough to be a fully immersive clubbing experience, it is hard to escape that you are in the lobby of a cinema.

A noticeable change for 2016 is the introduction of a new VOID sound system and the use of curtains to block out the windows. Bookings at Toldi are a mixed bag, on some weeknights you may see local bands playing, whereas on weekends a mixture of local and international electronic artists can be heard. Christian Löffler, Kutmah and Throwing Snow are some examples from 2016 which show the scope of listings.

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