Beats Before Midnight – 3rd edition

#girlpower and genre-tornado in the underground music scene of Budapest

On January 6th of this very year, the 3rd edition of Beats Before Midnight took place in Budapest, in the underground cultural space of literary café, Három Holló/Drei Raben (Three Ravens). I was invited to this event by singer-songwriter Puzzls, founder and editor-in-chief of this website, who was also one of the performers of the night for the third consecutive time. Personally, I was so glad I could finally attend this event (even though going alone to any kind of event scares the living hell out of my introverted self), as I’ve been following it with one eye ever since it came around. Beats Before Midnight is basically a series of small concerts held one after another, as the names gives it away – occurring right before midnight, celebrating, and giving space to small, independent, aspiring artists to show and share their talent with music enthusiasts who are open to hear and enjoy various mixes of music genres. The initiative sprung out of the mind of Girl in the mirror, who was also the bubbly, cheerful and devoted host of the night, the heart and soul of the party. It was clear to see how much work and thought was put into the event not only by her, but all the other artists and the staff helping around as well.


I arrived at the location a little bit before the concerts started, so I had a chance to peek into the soundcheck and to see for myself a handful of the artists who were about to perform. On this occasion, the performers consisted only of female singers, and it really felt like a celebration of #girlpower and the uniqueness of women in the smaller parts of the music industry. All the lovely ladies who came up on the stage had their own charm, charisma, style of music and fashion sense. It felt empowering watching them perform with so much confidence; these ladies belong to the surface as well as the indie underground!

The first ones on the stage were Girl in the mirror herself, in co-production with SARSHA, the latter performing a self-made dance choreography and shining brightly while doing so. Her solid fanbase – a very excited, supportive girl community – could enjoy her singing too later on, which felt like a sacred initiation rite with soft undertones and mysterious vibes. You couldn’t even tell this was her first-ever performance, as so much confidence would radiate from her. Because of a technical bug during her concert, the Beats Before Midnight team gave her another chance to perform, this time without any interruptions, which was a heartwarming act to witness.

The next girl on the stage was ANAM ARIA, performing her song called ‘4REAL’. As a self-proclaimed, contemporary R&B songwriter, she was channeling her inner Barbie on the stage, with a stunning pink outfit from head to toe, giving strong independent femme energies through her song and her appearance as well.


Funny and being unapologetically herself would be the best words to describe the third performer of the night, ROSE MAY. Her boldness shone through as she wrote not one, not two, but three (!) of her songs on that very same day, just before the concert. Had she not told us this information, I doubt anybody would’ve noticed as they all sounded just as professional as all her other songs, giving off dreamy vibes with bits of longing. She was also rapping in her song called ‘Oxytocin’ and the whole performance was nothing less than wholesome.


With songs in various genres under her belt, the next performance of the night was none other than Puzzls, with a very enthusiastic audience who was dancing along and enjoying the ride through the wave of emotions provided. Sometimes it felt like being at a punk-rock concert, other times you could imagine yourself laying on your bedroom floor, listening to calm and soothing sounds, forgetting any concerns occurring in your life. I always felt like the songs of Puzzls could be part of any soundtrack of a featurette or a coming of age movie. She was also kind to perform a few songs not yet released to the public, one of which is inspired by the series ’How I Met Your Mother’. She really had her own way of handling the crowd, reaching out and talking to them constantly. And without being too biased, I must also add that hearing her songs live was a blast for me; her professionalism was indisputable.

Girl in the mirror

The night advanced further and Girl in the mirror was back on the stage, this time to guide us into a dreamy, fantasy-like world through the power of her music. The fairytale-like vibes, with heavy anime undertones and a mix of electropop and bass music were well-received by the audience. SARSHA was also called back to help in setting the mood, even having a full choreography ready for one of Girl in the mirror’s songs, who was so amazing that she even played the flute! I really loved her outfit which gave a combination of dark academia and anime styling.


Closing the event but continuing with the tradition of anime-like and electropop vibes, kkoneko was another face of the night’s musical palette. While unfortunately I couldn’t stay until the end of her concert, those few songs I was able to catch before leaving gave off the sensation of an adventurous night spent in the city, storming through it, while blasting music on the speakers of your car. The projected background of her performance was quite melancholic with various anime scenes showing the quiet, grey everyday life of people. With angel wings on her back and a matching angelic voice, she made me feel like I’m hearing Grimes at a rock concert, and even brought back memories of when I was watching the anime called ‘Nana’ a few years prior. It’s safe to say she gave a performance one could easily lose themselves in, in the most positive sense of the word.


To sum up this whole musical experience, Beats Before Midnight was a very inclusive environment, an enjoyable and safe event with talented and dedicated individuals who were not afraid to show parts of their personality, feelings, and to put themselves out there and shine before a crowd of friends, as well as strangers. Relatable and hard-working, it’s worth keeping an eye on all these talented performers who all have a chance of getting bigger in the near future. One more thing I can say is that I’m rooting for all of them and wishing for luck and prosperity in the journey of their music career.


*Photos of ANAM ARIA and SARSHA are by @encs.luca; photos of ROSE MAY, PUZZLS, Girl in the mirror and kkoneko are by @kitty.somewhere 

Twenty One Pilots: Cinema Experience

Have you ever felt so good at a place that you hardly wanted to leave? Have you ever had such a cathartic experience, that it nearly skyrocketed you to another dimension? I’m trying hard not to overpraise this, but truth be told, the extended cut of the livestream concert that Twenty One Pilots hosted in the middle of the pandemic, released in the movie theaters for one night only, has made me feel exactly like that.

It’s not surprising, though. I have been a big fan of this band for six or seven years, I can proudly say I grew up with them in a way. They aren’t just a band to me; as cheesy as it sounds, the way I always describe them is: they are a second family, a second home, as they took a very influential part in my long journey of inner growth and self-discovery. It always amazes me how their songs are so happy in terms of sound but so dark if you listen to the lyrics, as if the music is the body that withholds the pain, the anxiety, the depression or any other kind of emotion that the lyrics represents. And when those emotions become too much, the body releases them in the form of nosebleeds or tears or even deep, haunting screams which for someone who’s dealing with these emotions themselves, could be a cry for help, a safe space, a sense of understanding and being understood. I am so sure that Twenty One Pilots saved multiple lives by now and they are continuing to do so. This is the point where a band ceases to be just a band anymore; they are saviors, superheroes in flesh and bone.

The cinema experience was something else. It was a movie, a concert and a documentary all at once. The whole show started with a quiz on the band – not to hype myself up, but I answered all of the questions correctly – and continued with what seemed like a talk show hosted in Dema. Long-time fans must know that Twenty One Pilots build their discography around an entire storyline, which is just peak genius. So yes, the cinema experience had everything: Blurryface, Dema, the bishops and even our favourite little alien-thing, Ned. The most amazing moment, however, was when it switched onto the concert mode; Tyler sitting on a couch, suddenly bursting out the lyrics of ‘Choker’ without any music in the background, one hundred percent caused goosebumps on everyone’s skin . His vocals are just mesmerizing throughout the entire show. The songs are remixed, but in a fully enjoyable way, being new and nostalgic all at once. It is especially fun when the songs morph into each other and you begin to recognize which album they are from. Funny enough, I myself ended up changing my mind every time I heard a song, saying things like: “Yes, I always knew deep down that I am a Trench era girl” or “Now that I begin to think about it, Vessel must be my favourite album after all” or even “Neah, forget about it. I came in during the Blurryface era, this is the album I am going to stick with”. So yes, being a Twenty One Pilots fan is being unable to decide which album you like the best. They are all unique and each represents different states of one’s life. And this movie is, after all, a journey through time, through the lives of Tyler and Josh, as we do not only listen to a concert, but we get glimpses of where Twenty One Pilots came from and how much has happened since then. Watching the journey of their growth and expansion brings tears to every fans eyes; it is impossible not to acknowledge what these two, incredibly talented men accomplished with their love for music. The power they captured everyone’s hearts with is really special. Music, and art in general, is the best medicine for the soul, and this band is one of the most fitting representations of that idea.

I do not know if we’ll get the chance to see this version of the livestream concert ever again, but if we do, I advise everyone to just go and watch it, because as hard as I am trying, I just cannot express or emphasise enough how amazing this experience was. It never bored me for a second, even though it was a series of switches from the talk show to the concert, from the concert to Dema commercials, from the commercials to the production and behind the scenes of the concert – which is amazing by the way – and from the production back to the concert again, or even to the youth of Twenty One Pilots and their very first concert with a tiny crowd, which must have been my favourite part of the whole movie. Now that I think about it, the phrase that stuck with me the most was a young Tyler Joseph on the screen, saying something along the lines of: “I am not getting paid for this yet, but I really hope I will someday.” This sentence has shaken me to the core and keeps on inspiring me, knowing that passion, hard work and dreaming on a larger scale are always worth pursuing, as they can turn into something amazing overtime. 

All in all, I cannot say anything I haven’t said yet, maybe besides the fact that sometimes I even forgot I am not physically at a concert; the guys truly outshined themselves and seeing how much hard work, dedication and effort it required to bring this idea into fruition is truly remarkable. Truth be told, I entered the movie theater feeling drained and tired of life, yet excited to see something I know would be amazing, but in the end, I left with so much more; something I will cherish and remember until the day I no longer am.

‘Brividi’ – A ballad on people who don’t know how to love

Genre: Pop ballad 

Long-time Eurovision fans are probably familiar with the name Alessandro Mahmoud, or more specifically his stage name Mahmood, who was a contestant of the famous Song Contest back in 2019, and even landed on the second place with his kick-ass song titled ‘Soldi’. Well, good news is that our favorite Italian fella is back on the track to represent his home country this year with ‘Brividi’, a song he made in collaboration with singer and rapper BLANCO. Will they be able to keep the trophy in Italy after Måneskin’s overwhelming success? We are yet to find out, but I think it is safe to say that they certainly won’t finish on the last place.

For the ones who don’t speak Italian, including myself, brividi means shivers, and by knowing this fact one could easily assume the song is about love or the general state of being in love. Well, it kind of is, except that it’s more about being in love but not quite knowing how to properly love. Being such a fine artist, lyricist and performer, Mahmood is able to piece together a variety of feelings one could feel while being head over heels for someone, yet always letting them down because of their own insecurities, fears, and emotional unavailability. 

“E ti vorrei amare, ma sbaglio sempre”
(And I’d like to love you but I’m always wrong)

The charisma of Mahmood is something one cannot simply walk by; however, I have to emphasize just how well his whole vibe works with the iconic presence of BLANCO. At just 19 years old, Riccardo Fabbriconi is a mesmerizing artist with a powerful voice and a playful personality, and the chemistry between him and Mahmood, their voices as well as their stage performance, takes the listener and the watcher to an atmosphere where they can understand, re-live or indulge into the painful, disappointing, and bittersweet sensation of a person constantly torn between falling in and out of love and hurting his or her significant other in the process. 

In my view, this ballad is a dedication to all the people who fell victim to emotional unavailability or found themselves to be the ones in the position of being unable to let their feelings run free, an undeniable understanding of the complexity of human emotions and the fact that sometimes our feelings are complicated and need time to unfold and heal.

Listen to ‘Brividi’ on Spotify:


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Soda Blonde – Small Talk: a journey of self-discovery, wrapped in 80s vibes

Photo: Ste Murray

Genre: Alt-Pop

Many know the feeling of a great and unexpected road trip at dusk. The time when the sky is slowly emerging into darkness, making sure to ascend into beautiful shades of dirty pink or purple beforehand. The air turns colder, time feels slower and the music gets louder inside the car. If you mix this all with only a little bit of longing, the outcome will be Small Talk, the debut album of the Dublin-based Soda Blonde which came out earlier this year, in July.

“Down that avenue
Through the lane that we go through
I can tell by the way that you lean
That you’re fine on your own now”

Faye O’Rourke, the lead singer of the band described the tracks on this record as somewhat a feeling of lingering around. In her words, the album is “about life in our 20’s. Every part of us is in here, both subliminally and literally. Lyrically, this record is like a collection of my flaws and insecurities. They’re lingering awkwardly by the bar at a crowded social gathering, waiting to integrate with the wider world” – she described it for Nialler9 back in March, before the release of Small Talk and I have to say, her words are in perfect alignment with the outcome. The way the lyrics, the sounding, and even the colors on the cover picture are able to radiate the feeling of nostalgia, but at the same time give us a clear message about a change waiting just around the corner is exceptional, and as a young woman in her 20s myself, I understand perfectly how she tried to capture all the bottled up emotions of someone who is ready to begin his or her life but is also deeply terrified of it, not to mention the highs and lows of making new connections and letting go of the ones which no longer serve us and help us become the best version of ourselves. Somewhat it is a journey of self-discovery too; scraping bits of ourselves and shaping them into one big feeling through the power of music.

“Afraid of everybody’s success I confess
Everyone’s dangerous to my ideas of myself
I was lookin’ for a feeling, validate me, shape me, hеal me with love
But from my family and friends and еven you my darling’s not enough”

Faye’s voice and the melodic composition take us back into the 80s in some ways, making it sound like that time where everything seemed simpler, yet it was also a time of transitioning into something different than what people were used to before. I’m not sure if the composition was precisely thought out like this, but it was definitely a good choice for the album to give such vibes (I mean… who wouldn’t want to have a random road trip at night in the middle of the 80s, right?). Nothing captures the feeling of standing in the hallway better, than waiting to be let inside as our society gets modernized day by day throughout the 80s. Small Talk is exactly this waiting time, the borderline between old and new, and the nerve-wracking overthinking of letting go and moving on. If we ever get another album, maybe we will finally be able to step into the challenges of adulthood and the hardships of growing up, but until then, let’s enjoy the bittersweet youth that Soda Blonde served us on a silver platter.

Listen to ‘Small Talk’ here


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From Slowthai to Carson Coma – What is it like to attend a festival in the middle of a pandemic?

As a devoted fan of concerts, festivals, and music in general, I, like many others, were devastated when the whole World went under lockdown last year. That meant that not only we couldn’t leave the house without a mask and had to minimize social interactions, but we had to say goodbye to all our beloved summer festivals too. Personally, it was especially hard to let go of Electric Castle, one of the most popular festivals held in Romania, because it would’ve been the perfect graduation gift to attend the concert of an amazing line-up after finishing my university studies, thus including Twenty One Pilots, Machine Gun Kelly, The Neighbourhood, Alec Benjamin or Foals. The waves of the pandemic covered everything in the blink of an eye and washed away all my hopes and dreams for the best festival experience I could’ve ever had. 

Thankfully, this year the organizers came up with the idea of Electric Castle Special, which was similar to the original festival, only shaped in such ways to align with the criteria of holding concerts in the middle of a pandemic, which meant that those who were vaccinated or did a PCR test before entering the festival, could fully enjoy live music this August. One part of the festival was held in Bontida, the other took place in Cluj and included multiple locations with various stages. I had the sheer luck of my workplace collaborating with the festival, and this is how I got in, free of charge (of course, with the Vaccination Certificate and the intention to work), and was able to attend two concerts I was looking forward to the most – Slowthai and Carson Coma.

Slowthai is a British rapper from Northampton, and I have to admit, I only discovered his existence maybe a month before the festival started, thanks to an ad on which you could hear Doorman, a song he made in collaboration with Mura Masa. His music is a combination of hip-hop, punk-rap, and grime, some containing his views on political issues regarding Great Britain, which lead to a little bit of controversy around his name. I went specifically for this one song (worth it, I still remember how an old man was dancing next to me and just vibing to his music, probably having zero clue about what the lyrics meant), but I ended up staying for the whole concert because he was not only a genius on the stage but also very inspirational in all he was saying. To be frank, he made his way into my heart pretty fast and I just loved how open and outspoken he was. I would definitely recommend giving his music a go if one is not afraid to hear some spicy manifestations here and there.

Now you see, Carson Coma is the other end of the spectrum when it comes to my taste in music. While Slowthai could be called bold, fearless, and vulgar, Carson Coma is just a bunch of guys who give you the silly and awkward “boy next door” vibes, they are like the epitome of what a bohemian is. I became a fan of this Hungarian band a year ago when they released their album called Lesz, ami lesz (What will be, will be) which gained a lot of popularity and not by accident! They are a fresh addition to the Hungarian musical palette, mostly thanks to how they are able to combine and cover multiple genres, from alternative rock to the beat music of the 60s, and the way their lyrics work so well with what they intend to communicate into the World (a little fun fact is that they sing in English too, and even have a song in Italian). 

The connection they have with each other and with their fans is insane, not to mention how purely talented and bright these guys are. Me and my friend who loves Carson Coma just as much as I do, couldn’t skip the opportunity to attend their concert. And we are so glad that we went! I can’t say there were many people there (If somehow any of the Carson Coma members ever stumble across this article, I have a message for you guys: Please don’t let this discourage you and come back to Cluj someday to play many more amazing shows! In fact, I know people who couldn’t attend the festival, but would’ve loved to be there.), but these guys had so much energy, put their heart and soul into the whole show, and were really humble and kind to the people who gathered to see them, as they came down to chat a bit and take some photos with the fans. It was such a great experience to see and hear them live in so many ways, and I am really grateful that I could be a part of it.

To conclude all, Electric Castle Special was an amazing experience, even if I couldn’t enjoy all the concerts held. My heart is still aching for the Aurora concert I had to skip because of work, but I believe that both Slowthai and Carson Coma did a great job fulfilling the “withdrawal symptoms” that last year caused in me with the canceled festival season. My advice for you is: don’t waste your youth by not attending festivals. It could change your life and get you out of your comfort zone in the best way possible! And yes, I know, the pandemic isn’t something that should be toyed with, but as the example above states, it is possible to have fun in a carefully checked and well-organized environment, if people decide to behave like decent human beings, and follow the rules required.

I hope that next year will bring back the original festival too, and we will be able to enjoy the live music experience further!

Clairo – Sling review: sweet tunes with a pinch of heartache

Genre: Indie-Pop-Folk / Soft Rock

Clairo’s brand new album couldn’t have had a more fitting title. Just as a sling that holds up hanging weights, the singer’s new EP carries within itself a thousand feelings while trying to get a grip of longing for someone or something missed or not yet found, attached to the context of domesticity, caring for yourself and for other beings. The songs are an epitome of self-awareness, a journey of awakening with bits of melancholy, loneliness, regrets, spoken and unspoken words, but also freedom and a search for closure and acceptance. 

The softness of this album is not only reflected in its melodies, but also in the short, delicate titles and the simplicity of the cover. The composition was undeniably handled with care and patience, outthought, and cleverly put together. Listening to it gives you the feeling of standing in the middle of a field on a summer day, enjoying the breeze, thinking about all the struggles and hardships of life in the calmest way possible.

As a lyricist, Clairo is impeccable. She is able to express her thoughts and feelings in such beautiful and special ways, using  words that make it hard not to be mesmerised. One of her lyrics that captured me for example is from the track called ‘Partridge’: Comfortable, unmotivated always/ Seeking other stories, other memories/ I’m sorry I have to hold you longer than you expected/ It’s only temporary. 

However, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something is lacking within this new album, and that would be what I’d call the element of surprise. Most of the songs feel a bit plain and alike when it comes to the sounding, it’s hard to distinguish them from one another, like they are carrying the same tunes over and over again, which is fine as they capture the atmosphere of the artist’s volition perfectly, yet it could’ve been more relatable with just a little bit of spice added to them. 

All in all, the album is worth a shot if you’re craving for something simple yet meaningful, with sweet tunes and a pinch of heartache.

Listen to ‘Sling’ here:


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Introducing Azahriah

From trap and pop to alternative, Azahriah is someone you can’t fit into only one specific genre. The young self-taught artist already earned a solid fanbase in Hungary, but he has all the odds in favor to be known on an even wider spectrum as he mainly writes songs in English, having a few Hungarian lyrics as well. The 19-year-old boy is on the right path to success and with a variety of songs about love, depression, or anything he comes face to face within his personal life, he certainly brings something new and refreshing to the musical palette, as he is growing as a performer and a lyricist during the whole process of self-discovery and learning about the perks and setbacks of how the music industry works. You don’t wanna miss out on this rising talent!

Listen to Azahriah here:

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