Live Report: Negură Bunget at the Cameo in Brooklyn

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Fifteen years after forming as a band, Romania’s Negură Bunget played their first US show at Cameo in Brooklyn on Friday, 4/20. They barely made it. They came straight from the airport, and the opening band, Din Brad (comprised of NB members Negru, Gadinet, Inia Dinia, and outside vocalist Alma), had to cancel their performance when the whole Negură Bunget crew ran into visa trouble at customs. Thankfully our diligent border police let them through—Negură Bunget delivered an incredible performance.

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Haethen, a black metal band from New Jersey, opened the show. They’re pretty obscure, and have just one three-track demo from 2009 to their name, though apparently a full length is in the works. They’re also pretty good. Their raw-ish black metal features gruff vocals and mid-paced guitars, a mix that translated well live.

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Negură Bunget was welcomed to the stage with shouts and horns from a crowd that looked to be at capacity. Clearly, Negură Bunget should have made a US trip sooner. The warm crowd reaction even seemed to catch Negură Bunget by surprise, and I found myself thinking about how cool it must be to get off a plane from Romania, run into a bunch of crap at US customs, and then walk into a sold-out venue in New York City full of screaming metalheads. Must be a good feeling.

Negură Bunget opened with “Tesarul de Lumini” off of Om, one of their best-known songs and a good one to get people in the mood for what was a powerful, but seemingly short, set that also included “Pamint” and “Cunoasterea Tacuta.” There were a few sound issues, which is to be expected with such a large band, but no one cared. They evoked all of the majesty that makes their albums so special. The vocals were spot on, and the singer—a new one that goes by the moniker Chakravartin—reached to the ceiling a few times as he belted it out. It looked, and sounded, pretty epic. In true Negură Bunget style, a pan flute and herding bells made an appearance. Despite how dead tired they must have been—who knows how many layovers there are between Romania and New York—they treated the crowd to an encore.

Negură Bunget’s long overdue first US appearance was a memorable one. It was also an educational experience: I learned that the ‘g’ in “Bunget” is pronounced like “bungee.” No hard ‘g’ (although there is a hard ‘g’ in Negură). Negură Bunget will be stopping at roughly 30 US and Canadian cities on their current tour, including Baltimore for a Maryland Deathfest performance on May 25. Catch them live while you can—who knows how long it will be before they come back.

— Wyatt Marshall

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