[Photo by JONATHAN VALANIA]
EDITOR’S NOTE: This concert review of Gogol Bordello’s show at the Electric Factory last Wednesday somehow got stuck in the pipes of the Internets. Ordinarily, it would be far too after the fact to run a review at this late date, but we are going to make an exception because it’s Gogol fucking Bordello. Because, dammit, when we say we are going to review a Gogol Bordello concert, well, as God is our witness, that Gogol Bordello concert gets
motherfucking reviewed! Our word is all we have.
BY PELLE GUNTHER The Electric Factory almost guarantees a colorful audience, and the crowd for Gogol Bordello was on their A-game. From Christmas lights to pirate costumes, gypsy attire or just general lack of clothing all together, the factory was filled with a dense throng of sweaty fans, most wearing the subtle scent of one too many beers. The openers, Philly’s own delightfully bizarre, experimental, gypsy-jazz group Man Man, and the punky, alcohol driven, folk-thrash group River City Extension, set a thick mood of alcoholism and gypsies, creating the perfect atmosphere for Gogol’s wild stage show.
The seven-piece immigrant clan from New York, Gogol Bordello entered the stage to a drunken explosion of screams, and a bone-crushing surge of gypsy-crazed fans pushing to the front. Their charismatic, Borat lookalike/front man Eugene Hutz arrived on stage armed with a flamenco guitar and a bottle of water. After grabbing the mic, he embarked on a wonderful journey through the best of his old tunes, and paying special attention to their albums Gypsy Punks and Super Taranta. Regrettably they failed to play “Sally” or “I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again”, but hearing “Wonderlust King” and “Not a Crime” while surrounded by the enthusiastic sing-a-long of the mob packed into the sold out Factory almost made one contemplate giving up on modern society for a simpler, and considerably wilder, gypsy life.
The amount of wild energy these musicians produced was such that you’d have to see to believe it. It was a gypsy spectacular, from the full functioning lighthouse on stage to the large banner bearing their Gypsy Punks-era emblem of a slingshot firing a red star. Through the show the band was consistently moving, dancing, interacting and putting on theatrics with gusto, while the crowd moshed their way through even the slowest songs. Mid set Eugene opened the wine, and in proper party fashion, sloshed it wildly across the crowd and stage, his wild eyes glinting over his super-sized mustache.
Undeniably the best part of my night was the arrival of their wild sing-a-long “Start Wearing Purple” which had the whole crowd screaming in each other’s faces, happy that finally we all knew the words. At the final breakdown, the place went wild as the stomping and dancing feet of thousand of fans pounded the ground as they screamed in pure merriment and wild release.
The band, adorned in western cowboy attire, came back for an extensive encore, which lasted nearly as long as their first set, focusing more on their new album Trans-Continental Hustle, which delves into a much softer and more musically intricate sound. To start off the encore, two of Gogol’s guitarists came out with not lights save the revolving beam from the lighthouse, and played a beautiful flamenco duet, before being joined by the rest of the band, slowly raising back into their former energy. By the end, Eugene was shirtless, playing maniacally while the rest of the band rocked out, bringing this wild party of a night to a close.