The Scala is packed to the rafters, but few English accents can be heard among the bustling crowd. That's because Quimby, one of the biggest alternative music acts in Hungary, are here for a one-off UK show, and it feels like half of London's Hungarian ex-pat community have come out to greet them.
For Hungarians, seeing Quimby in a venue this size is a big deal; back home, these guys would be playing big venues or headlining a night of Budapest's Sziget festival. Which says something great about the Hungarian music scene, because Quimby are pretty unconventional. They're experimental, dynamic and not easily pigeonholed. The most common comparisons people draw on after hearing them the first time, quite accurately, seem to be Tom Waits and Nick Cave. But Quimby also bring Baltic influences into the mix, demonstrated in songs like I've Gotta Girl, in which singer, songwriter and frontman Tibor Kiss sings the entire song through a megaphone.
Tonight Quimby play some songs from their most recent album Kaktuszliget, mixed with older fan-favourites like Auto Egy Szerpentinen. With seven band members switching between a variety of instruments, we get trumpets, keyboards, congas, some kind of twinkly-sounding xylophone-like thing. Award for 'most into it' goes to percussionist Livius Varga, who throws himself around and occasionally steps up to the mic to rap in the style of a manic Beat Generation author at a poetry slam.
Most Mulik Pontosan ('now it is slipping away') gets a rare airing at the end, because "the crowd have been so nice". It's a gentle ballad that shows off the subtler side of the band.
Quimby have been going for 21 years and are still full of energy. Apparently their lyrics are great - full of wordplay and interesting metaphors. While us Brits (at least those of us who don't speak Hungarian) have to miss out on that side of the experience, Quimby are still well-worth checking out for their excellent music alone.