Member of Hungarian punk band beaten, songs censored after performance at government-financed concert

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A Hungarian punk band says video of a live performance it gave as part of a government program to support musicians during the coronavirus was censored of all political content, and that a band member was beaten by unknown assailants days after the concert.

Hétköznapi Csalódások, the band from the southern city of Pécs which has been active for three decades, performed in October as part of the Raktárkoncert (Warehouse Concert) series, a government initiative to financially support performing artists who lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Disclosure: The author of this article also performed as part of the Raktárkoncert program.)

Prior to the performance, concert organizers wrote to the band - known for its government-critical lyrical content - asking for several politically-oriented songs to be removed from the setlist, according to the band's manager. One such song, Viktor, is critical of prime minister Viktor Orbán.

At the concert, filmed on a temporary stage in a warehouse with no audience, the band performed the song anyway. It was later edited out of the final video along with Abszurdistzán, anti-Nazi anthem Ostoba and the Fidesz-critical song Geciország.

Lead singer Ferenc Megyeri wore a t-shirt at the performance with the word "SOROS" written on the front, which organizers asked him to remove. He refused, and the final cut of the video was edited to ensure that the message was largely illegible.

Also missing from the video were appearances by actor András Borbíró, who delivered satirical government-critical monologues between songs while dressed as an evil clown. 

Two days after the concert, Borbíró alleges he was attacked by three men waiting for him in front of his apartment building. The men approached the actor and asked, "Are you that actor guy?", and proceeded to beat him, he said.

"I can't prove that this definitely happened because of the concert, but I can't imagine any other justification," Borbíró said, adding that he and other band members were required to provide their names and addresses upon arriving at the concert studio.

Ferenc Megyeri and András Borbiró as the evil clown.Fotó: HétköznaPI CSAlódások/Facebook

Critics of the Raktárkoncert program, which dedicated HUF 4.5 billion (€12.5 million) in state aid to some 100 bands that were scheduled to perform at Hungarian festivals in 2020, say that companies with ties to the Fidesz government were awarded contracts for organizing the concerts. 

Some fans of Hétköznapi Csalódások argued the band should not take part in the program due to perceived corruption issues and its ties to Fidesz. 

In a Facebook post, the band wrote, "The state is not Fidesz, and state aid is not Fidesz's money. In a normal world, these decisions shouldn't have anything to do with politics."

Hétköznapi Csalódások plans to release an uncut recording of their set, featuring the clown, "to compensate for this unfair and profoundly anti-democratic process," they wrote.

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