Gogol Bordello is a collective of mad-men. The band members can and will do just about anything to enhance the group's performance. A Gogol Bordello show is a happening. It is as much a spectacle as it is about music. That is not to say that this group of eight are not world-class musicians. They are. They are also showmen of the highest order. At any given show at virtually anytime, frontman, Eugene Hütz is likely to pop open a bottle of wine throw bouquets of flowers to audience members via a huge slingshot, twist himself around the legs and/or torso of another band member to play the accordion, or take it upon himself to lead and teach a course in samba dancing. In a previous life Hütz may very well have been the master of ceremonies at a circus. It is almost as if her is now reliving that life as the ringmaster of a circus of very musical gypsies.
As one might expect, Gogol Bordello is not your average, run-of-the-mill, typical band. The Gypsy Punk was formed in 1999 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and is known for theatrical stage shows and almost unending tours. The Eastern European-influenced music is loud and joyous. The band members act as though they learned their trade at the Theatre of the Absurd. But it is Gogol Bordello's performance, as a whole, that gets its devoted audience bopping, dancing and singing along.
Currently comprised of Hütz (on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and percussion), Sergey Ryabtsev (on violin and backing vocals), Pamela Racine (on percussion, backing vocals, dance and general performance), bassist Thomas "Tommy T" Gobena, Pedro Erazo (percussionist and MC), drummer Oliver Charles, guitarist Boris Pelekh and Pasha Newmer (on accordion and backing vocals), the band gave it's all on a cool Thursday night at Westbury, NY's The Space. Opening with "Art Of Life," and immediately got into character delivering a high-energy musical and performance art show.
The evening's performance was highlighted by powerful versions of: "Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)" from the 2010 American Recordings CD <em> Trans-Continental Hustle</em>, which featured the audience m embers chanting along with Hütz; "I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again from <em>Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike</em> (Side One Dummy Records, 2005) "We Rise Again;" "60 Revolutions;" "Start Wearing Purple" "Think Locally, Fuck Globally;" "My Companjera" and "Alcohol."
The show, for those who had never seen the band was definitely a revelation. For the faithful, it was business as usual. Either way, crowd members were mesmerized and taken by the energy. They sweated, danced and lost themselves in the swirling rhythms as Hütz, sang, danced, strummed his guitar, drank from his wine bottle, cajoled and interacted with them as he led the band through the foot-stomping set. As the evening progressed, he made it his business to ensure that each and every band member was given the opportunity to showcase his or her chops. Though it appeared to be almost haphazard and Hütz sometimes seems to be a madman, the show ran like a well-oiled machine. The choreography was perfect, even when there was a bit of improvisation, Hütz managed to bring everyone--band members and fanatical fans--back on point.
At the end of the performance, the band members came to the center of the stage, joined hands and bowed--much like the cast of a Broadway production. As the crowd ambled out into the lobby, many stopped by the band's merchandise table where it became apparent that the Gogol Bordello machine was also comprised of marketing geniuses. Fans were seen purchasing CDs (both recently released and those released early in the band's career) vinyl versions of these albums, posters, caps and any number of different T-shirts.
A Gogol Bordello performance is a happening. It is a must-see. For those who couldn't, for whatever reason, attend the this show or another night on this tour, do not miss them next time they appear in your area.
Photographs By Christine Connallon
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon