Bad Buka

The truth about seeing live music is that it’s all about a moment. It’s not unlike those infinite summer nights of our youth, how everything was about the moment and everything was now. Music works like that. When it clicks, it clicks. When a few disparate variables come together in that ineffable way, we step into the sublime world that sound can shape. Too much time away from that world is bad for the soul, so we need to check in once in a while.

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 at Mehanata Bulgarian Bar, a cosmopolitan little den of titillation 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) the way a revival in jammy music made people sway and shakedown in the 90s. It’s totally kinetic, celebratory and darkly sweet. 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. We’re reminded that we’re all beautiful, sexy and delirious. The lyrics nudge us toward personal transformation in wry and witty proclamations made by haunting and irresistible narrators, but mostly we move­—out of madness, out of joy and out of the way of the waitress who has a tough time delivering drinks through the packed dance floor.
If this sounds like fun, it is—fun on repeat. Bad Buka brings its Balkan beat to Mehanata throughout the year (mark the first Saturday of every month), but I think summer nights in particular are best for these types of investigations.,

alan semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian is a writer, musician, English teacher, and occasional visual artist. Besides LI Pulse, his work has appeared in Newsday, Adbusters, Chain, The Lyric Review and numerous other print and online publications, anthologies, and chapbooks. His first full-length book of poetry is In the Architecture of Bone (Genpop Books 2009). You can visit him digitally at and find out about his music at