Posted on December 31, 2014 by tribune in QConfidential.
New York City is home to a nearly countless number of musicians. While that means there is something for everyone, it also means that it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. The Bayside-based Bad Buka though is truly a unique band that reflects the diversity of its home borough.
The nine-piece ensemble brings its Balkan gypsy blues to New York City’s collective mix of world music and punk attitude. Their music is passionately manic, bursting with energy from the instrumentation to the vocals. With trumpets and violins adding to the traditional guitar, bass and drums, these are songs that you can dance or rock out to. One thing you will not do when listening is keep still. After all, “buka” means noise in Serbo/Croatian.
According to guitarist Christofer Lovrin, the band’s inception came from the marriage between vocalist Slavko Bosnjak and M.C./backing vocalist Carla T. The two realized there was some common ground musically and they started writing together. Carla joined soon afterwards and the band grew from there.
“The way we played felt original, like something we never heard before and were excited about,” Lovrin said.
The group’s first release was the single, “All The Angels,” which came out in 2011. The song came out of the band’s love of old Romani and Mexican brass band music. Bad Buka molded this upbeat vibe with a punk rock sensibility to create something fresh.
“Slavko and I have a strange psychic connection on some level and things just kind of happen on their own after that,” Lovrin said. “We also really like mixing joviality with intense heightened energy. It seems to make for a healthy kind of craziness.”
Bad Buka’s followed that single with its debut album, “Through The Night,” released in February 2014. For this record, the band captured the intensity of its live shows, putting together 18 songs and then chopping that number down to those found on the LP.
While “Through The Night” may capture the feeling of a live concert, it is not the same as being there. When you are at a Bad Buka show, you can not only hear the energy and passion coming from the band, but you can see it in action as well. According to Lovrin, Slavko, Carla and vocalist/percussionist Diana are natural performers who fit perfectly with the group’s vibe.
“I am and have always been about the groove and the energy level coming through really strong and finding song structures that keep it flowing,” Lovrin said. “I often want to feel like I could dance to the music. We have fun with mistakes on stage and let it feed our fire.”
Bad Buka has ambitious plans for this year, as the band wants to record the three albums’ worth of songs they have built up. The group also plans to play some more gigs as they work on evolving their sound and performance. To keep up with the latest, visit www.badbuka.com.
- Joe Marvilli
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April’s “Know Your Audience” Award GOES TO….
Now, I know what you’re thinking — what’s a Buka, and what’s so bad about them??
The answer(s) are: I don’t know, and nothing. But whatever it is, they sure know how to put on a live show, there is no question about THAT.
I saw them play at Radio Bushwick last Friday with Sylvana Joyce and the Moment (the band I’m a gyspy dancer for — bet you didn’t know that!) but moving on…
Right before Bad Buka’s set, a blond girl wearing a “Bad Buka” shirt walks in, yelling, “EVERYONE, GET READY FOR BAD BUKA! PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER!” (or something of that nature, probably worded in a less lame/cheesy way). I wasn’t sure if she was a merch girl, hype (wo)man, or part of the band herself, but I did know one thing - I was READY for Bad Buka.
So she gets on stage with the rest of her band and joins another female frontwoman, also wearing a Bad Buka shirt. It was clear that she was part of the band - and I was even MORE excited - I love it when band members wear their own band shirts! (Shameless Self-Promotion wasn’t the title of my first album for nothing!)
So the show starts - a clear night of high-energy gypsy rock was ahead. The room was packed, and everyone was ready to dance. After a couple of songs to get the crowd into it and involved, the girls took it a step further - they run into the audience with bright yellow chalk or powder or whatever that stuff people put on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday is (what, I’m JEWISH!) - they don’t give the audience members a choice - they just do it - and then run back on stage for the next song. Whether the audience likes it or not, they are involved - and lets face it, everyone liked it.
Song after song of music you couldn’t help but dance to ensued - everyone was up and dancing the entire time thus far - and presumably getting pretty tired a little over halfway through the set. That’s when the blond girl (OK - let’s call her by her real name, Carla T - I’ve looked it up since then) invited everyone in the audience to sit down - yes - sit down on the floor of the bar - Indian style. And everyone did it. We needed it after all that dancing.
After sitting everyone down, the entire band sat down, and she gave a speech - which I won’t ruin because you need to experience this live - and then, the band proceeded to play another raucous song - sitting down! It was so amusing to see such a full, high-energy song performed with all of the band members sitting down playing their instruments.
The tasteful humor and personality of the entire band was also a memorable and enjoyable part of their set - with their lead singer telling the audience that he was going to play “a slow one now, a ballad,” only to go into another 200 BPM extravaganza.
OK - now enough about the show, I’m reluctant to give any more of their secrets away because you need to see them live. You really do. You owe it to yourself.
But I will say this; here’s WHY they are the winners of April’s “Know Your Audience” Award:
they succeeded in engaging the crowd with their music, showmanship, stage presence, and stage antics - and they didn’t give anyone a choice. If you were there, you were going to be into their show - you were going to be part of the cult, whether you liked it or not. But luckily, you did.
( jannapelle.com-Arp 27th 2014 )
"My first introduction to music was through classical music, and as I grew up, I found a passionate love for music from Eastern Europe. Some of my favorites were Dvořák, Bartók, and Janáček, who worked to incorporate their native folk music into their compositions. Bad Buka‘s music is heavily influenced by Slavic and Romani elements, which explains why I fell so hard for Bad Buka. They are absolutely amazing live, drawing the audience in with their fast-paced musical storytelling and getting the crowd moving. The band was crowded close on the small stage, but that didn’t seem to bother them as they danced and sang. They had tremendous amounts of positive energy and it was obvious that this band really enjoyed performing. Watching them on stage, it’s clear that Bad Buka is a family first, then a band, and that seems to be the glue that keeps them working as a band." - by cardiac_in_overdrive (@cardiac_ovrdrv),
( forusnotthem.com/999/ March 2014 )
“.."their live show has remained remarkably consistent: they play a sweaty, high energy set, and their music is exceedingly passionate yet danceable. Sonically, their material owes a great deal to the folk songs of the Balkan region, punk rock and even elements of hip hop. Locally, they’ve developed a reputation for a passionate, sweaty and unpredictably wild live show of incredibly fun, danceable music. “Through the Night/Moj Moj” is Bad Buka’s first official video and it creates an excellent sense of their live sound — full of large, almost operatic emotion, horns, elegant strings, buzzing guitars, wild time signature changes and an in your face attitude. it’s a sound that’s immediate and wildly passionate. You’ll want to get up dance, shout and break stuff that’s how much fucking fun it is."”- Willam Helms, THEJOYOFVIOLENTMOVEMENT.com (Nov 04, 2013)
"...Each player has a distinct look and sound, collaborating to create an explosive act. With a fiery punk sound and an unpaved recording career, Bad Buka's live energy impressed. The band will release its first full length, Through The Night in 2014."- Kate Spalla, examiner.com (Dec 18, 2013)
"I’m not one for sweeping statements, but Bad Buka is one of the best live bands you’ll ever see.[ ] especially if you see them on the Lower East Side. There’s been a crazed resurgence (or insurgence) of gypsy punk music lately (see Gogol Bordello). It’s starting to make people dance like nuts in New York City (and beyond). And right now, Bad Buka is the local giant of the scene. There are enough sensorial stimulations at the Bad Buka carnival to keep the mind lit and glowing brightly till sunrise. The frontman slashes and gesticulates and grinds the invisible air. The violin carves the melody as if it were dinner. The guitar scorches and screams, the bass thumps, the drums drive, and the trumpet interjects like the rolling roar of a dipping coaster. The people here are beautiful, sexy and delirious. It’s totally kinetic, celebratory and darkly sweet. And right now, Bad Buka is the local giant of the scene. -"- Alan Semerdjian, Long Island Pulse Magazine (May 26, 2011)
“What is there to say about this insanely amazing band?!?! the term they coined for their particular brand of music nearly says it all: GYPSY PUNK ROCK. but i can say it all in two: PURE. ENERGY. BAD BUKA is an 8-piece band force of nature that began its life as PANONIAN WAVE. straight out of my hometown borough of queens, i’m convinced they can play ANYWHERE and own it. who said the outer borough doesn’t bring it?! here’s something i wrote for local music site LICNotes: Bad Buka is the kind of band that defies explanation – they bring their lively Balkan roots to NYC with the richness of world music, punk rock attitude, and even the spunk of ska. Their energy is so PURE that listeners are immediately converted. Theirs is the kind of music that any person of any musical background or taste can absorb, dance to, lose themselves in, and commune with. At a Bad Buka show, you truly become part of a shared experience – a transfer of energy from band to crowd and back again, over ”- Audrey Dimeola, SugarNthunder (Mar 15, 2010)