Gogol Bordello + Primus: 12 Aug 2010 - Morrison, CO

Jonathan Kosakow
Photos: Brendan Flanagan

There are not many bands in this world that perform such original and groundbreaking music with as much passion and eccentricity as Gogol Bordello and Primus.

Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello + Primus

City: Morrison, CO
Venue: Red Rocks Amphitheater
Date: 2010-08-12

There are not many bands in this world that perform such original and groundbreaking music with as much passion and eccentricity as Gogol Bordello and Primus. Whoever had the idea to put the two bands on the same bill is, in all likelihood, crazy. But, as has been said before, there is a fine line between crazy and genius. The excitement leading up to the night these two bands came together at Red Rocks was comparable to that of any other show in the area this summer, and when it finally happened, that thin line was not only crossed, it was danced on, sung to, screamed at, laughed about, and soaked with the spilled beer of 9,000 obsessive fans.

It was a bit after 8pm when Gogol Bordello took the stage. Each member stormed the stage one at a time wielding his instrument. The sounds of “Illumination” came together, louder and louder, layer after layer, until finally Eugene Hutz jumped on stage with his usual gusto, furiously strumming his acoustic guitar and bouncing around among his band mates, soon leading the crowd in chants of the chorus to “Ultimate”, an embittered gypsy sing-a-long. Everyone in attendance suddenly and simultaneously lost their minds dancing and screaming as the entirety of the band led the way doing much of the same.

For their full performance, the unbridled energy did not stop, and you could feel it in the air. “My Companjera”, “Trans-Continental Hustle” and “Break the Spell”, sometimes led by Hutz and other times by MC and percussionist Pedro Erazo, arguably got the biggest reactions from the crowd, but slow-starting songs such as “When Universes Collide” held the thickest of tension just because of what would come at the end: a fury set afire by the class injustices that Gogol speaks out against at every turn. It was not until the end of the show that a breath could be taken by anyone on stage. But even that didn’t seem necessary as violinist Sergey Ryabtsev led the band front-and-center in yet another raucous gypsy jam before they had to give way, gone but far from forgotten, to the main attraction of the evening.

After a brief period of stage setup and audience chants of “Primus Sucks!” the three men known as Primus rushed to the stage, silhouetted by the backing lights of the two oversized spacemen flanking the setup on either side. The rattling slap of Les Claypool’s bass was soon complemented by the screaming guitar of Larry “Ler” LaLonde and Jay Lane’s drum kit as the trio broke in their section of the night with “Pudding Time”.

It wasn’t long into the set before Claypool, in black stovepipe hat and leather vest, approached the microphone and told the crowd “Well, that’s it, we’ll play one more song for you,” to which his fans screamed adoringly “YOU SUCK!” Claypool only kept going. “And it’s a short song, too.” And again, the crowd praised him with the laughter hidden behind chants of “YOU SUCK!” He didn’t keep the joke going long, though. He brought his voice up an octave and proclaimed, “Actually I’m joshin’ ya. I’m just joshin’ ya!” before he high-stepped and bounced around the stage for another 68 minutes.

There was hardly one single high point to the show, as each passing second drove just as hard as the previous one. Perhaps a favorite moment though, at least on a personal level, happened as members of Gogol Bordello joined the band on stage for the Tom Waits song “Big in Japan”. With so many commanding personalities on stage, it was hard to know whom to watch, but the voices of Claypool and Hutz shook the place to pieces as they imitated the throaty, whiskey-soaked roar of Waits.

As you can only imagine with the caliber of fans that Primus has garnered over the years with their unmatched musical and lyrical irreverence, a fitting ending to the show, “Harold on the Rocks”, only left the crowd wanting more. Luckily the trio rocked the house once more with what is perhaps their only (ahem) famous song, “Tommy the Cat” as an encore. But even that wasn’t enough. Everyone still only wanted more.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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

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