Punk Bands to See: Gogol Bordello
The Circus is in Town
Of any genre in music, punk may be the easiest to create technically. Guitar solos are minimal, time signature is in 4/4 (generally), and chords make up the backbone of the guitar work. Although the percussion is often athletic and frantic, this music isn't the hardest to make.
Which means a whole ton of people play it. There are relatively few punk bands that are truly worth your time.
Gogol Bordello is one of them. I've seen them three times, been backstage once, and went to the club with them on Halloween. I promise you, it is worth your money.
Below, I give you excellent reasons for seeing one of the unique punk acts of all time.
Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher) Video
1. Their Passion is Palpable
From the first kick of a bass drum, you know this is a different kind of punk show. Anywhere from seven to ten musicians are hitting you with a flurry of percussive, yet harmonic noise. Like a deranged peddler, frontman Eugene Hutz waves you and the rest of the crowd to gather 'round and hear his tales of madness.
Violenist Sergey Ryabtsev hits you with a tempest of stringed folk, and you begin to wonder if you've heard anything like it.
There's shouting and waving and sweating and laughter, and you find yourself caught up in the mayhem. Slam dancing with sweaty men or folk dancing with the young lady next to you, you realize that you didn't just come to see a show: you are part of it.
This, my friends, is the beauty of a Gogol Bordello show: it really is an interactive experience.
Every note is played like it is being attacked, and the crowd acts as a gigantic choir. The passion, which started on the stage, is contagious and moves to the audience.
2. Each Song is Different
Gogol Bordello collectively hail from nations across the globe. The members of the band are from the Ukraine, Russia, Ethiopia, Scotland, Ecuador, Belarus, Scotland, and the USA.
They have lyrics in English, Spanish, Portugese, Romanian, and Russian.
They play punk, they play folk, they even play a little salsa. It really is hard to tell where the music you're listening to is from, or to come up with a band they sound like.
They sound like Gogol Bordello, and each song is just a little different from the last. Each song has one thing in common though: each one is very festive and upbeat.
3. They Got an Accordion? What?
Gogol Bordello has unique instrumentation when compared to any other punk band. Your standard punk band may be a guitarist/ lead vocalist, a bass player/ backing vocalist, and a drummer.
Gogol Bordello contains the following: a singer/ rhythm guitarist (Hutz), two additional vocalist/ percussionists (Sun and Erazo), a violinist (Ryabtsev), a bassist (Gobena), a lead guitarist (Ward), an accordion player (Newmer), and a drummer (Charles).
You may never hear a combination of such instrumentation again.
A Closer Look
A Circus Like, Festival Environment (GYPSY PUNKS)!
More than just notes and songs is a Bordello show. The lights, the vibrant and eccentric apparel, and the overall attitude of the musicians gives it a circus or carnival feel. Rather than the drab blacks and whites of your standard punk show, Bordello shows look like a skittles commercial that's been invaded by psychotic carnies.
Much of this is added by the antics of multi-faceted hype people Elizabeth Sun and Pedro Erazo. Dressed in gypsy-modified athletic gear, they get right up in your face screaming, dancing, and banging on tambourines.
There's even a part of the show, depending on the venue, where frontman Eugene Hutz sails through the crowd while perched on a drumhead. It truly is a sight to behold.
5. Elizabeth Sun is Gorgeous (Bordello)
I have to admit, I've always had a little crush on Elizabeth. It's probably common, but she just seems like a ton of fun. Unfortunately, this was the one band member that I didn't have the guts to talk to much when I met them.
Eh, there's always next time.
6. They Love the Fans
When I went to see Gogol Bordello the second time, I had an indirect contact that knew drummer Oliver Charles. Although I already had tickets to the show, I really wanted to meet them backstage.
All my contact had to do was mention she knew a big fan, and I got complimentary tickets AND backstage passes for the Halloween show in Madison, Wisconsin. Although there was a mixup with meeting the band at the venue, I then was given directions to the club where they were hanging out. No less, I traveled to the club with some new Russian friends I had met that were close with Sergey (violin).
Almost every member of the band wanted to be social, and Pedro Erazo even gave us a special DJ set. Still shouting his face off the entire time, exclaiming "jump up, jump up like a Mexican bean," it was a party I won't soon forget.
Even in small local shows, this treatment of fans is rare. It really made our group feel special.
In sum, go see Bordello. Their tickets are in demand and cost a bit more than they used to, but the experience is worth every penny.
Try to see if you can kick it with them after the show, too.