Events

Gogol Bordello + DeVotchka: 23.April.2010 - Chicago

Rory O'Connor

An inevitable and aesthetically complimentary pairing, Gogol Bordello and DeVotchka presented wildly different sets at the Congress Theater last Friday.

It was only a matter of time before someone put DeVotchKa and Gogol Bordello out on the road together. One would be hard pressed to think of a better pairing. The two bands share many common threads of influence yet bring distinctly unique approaches to their music. Both bands put their own spin on more traditional Eastern European music, while adding their own brand of gypsy flair, and both share an apparent love for brilliant literature (or so I infer from their band’s names). They go together a bit like an ushanka hat and a cold glass of vodka. However, musically, these commonalities appear drastically different. DeVotchKa’s music takes flight, like a bird, soaring in open air with a grace and beauty that feels cinematic and untouchable, while Gogol Bordello’s music is a bit more like a battering ram, forcing its will upon you.

Devotchka opened the show with a rolling rendition of “Basso Profundo”, the opening track from 2008’s A Mad & Faithful Telling, the band’s last release. They followed with their cover of “Venus in Furs”, and while they do not improve upon the Velvet Underground’s original (because really, who could) they do manage to completely transform the song, which is a feat in itself. The band also plucked their way through “The Clockwise Witness” and a magnificent, soaring rendition of “I Cried Like a Silly Boy”, from the Curse Your Little Heart EP.

With the opening notes from the accordion, to the musical circus that is “Vengo! Vengo!,” so began the most memorable interlude of the evening. As DeVotchka worked their way into the song, a svelte, determined female acrobat entered the stage and began climbing her way up two lines of dangling cloth. Suspended high above the stage, the music became the backdrop for her sinuous, mid-air acrobatics.

The 45-minute-long set came to a close with a flurry of songs from 2004’s How it Ends, which included “We’re Leaving”, closer “Enemy Guns”, and the title track “How it Ends”, which condenses every lovable DeVotchKa characteristic into six minutes of heart aching beauty.

There was little time to relish their set, though, as the mood quickly turned rowdier in anticipation of Gogol Bordello. Love or hate their music, a Gogol Bordello live performance will earn your respect—and at the very least, provoke enough of a response to substantively for an opinion of them.

Before their animated lead singer Eugene Hütz even took to the stage, security personnel had already begun hoisting people out of the crowd and over the front barrier. The show was every bit as raucous as one might expect from the self proclaimed “Gypsy Punks.” Touring in support of the recently released, and Rick Rubin produced, Trans-Continental Hustle, the band played many new songs along with the old, but for the most part the formula remains the same. Much like the Pogues, Gogol Bordello’s music is an irreverent, punk-inspired take on traditional folk music from their respective homelands.

The music grew a little weary over the duration of their set. While overly anthemic, the band’s energy on stage is simply too infectious to ignore. While I don’t see myself popping in a Gogol Bordello record around the house, I certainly won’t be missing their next live show.

DeVotchka

Gogol Bordello

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image