Reviews

Gogol Bordello

Michael Lomas

Leaving the bogs behind...

Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello

City: Sheffield, England
Venue: Sheffield Corporation
Date: 2006-03-09

For the last few years Gogol Bordello have been kicking up a bit of a storm in America, but these guys are only just now creeping (or more appropriately marauding) into Britain's consciousness. Still, their militant Gypsy punk is defiantly getting through. The band sold out their already upgraded London Astoria gig on this tour, and I swear I heard the tail-end of their rollicking party anthem "Start Wearing Purple" on daytime Radio 1 the other day. Still, it took a fair job convincing a couple of Oasis-loving mates to come down and see Gogol Bordello with me: "What do they sound like?". "Er, bit like a Ukrainian version of the Pogues but with facial hair - they're great". "S'alright mate I think I'll give it a miss". Some people... Anyway, to these ears at least, Gypsy Punks, the band's most recent and career-to-date defining release, comes on more like a manifesto than an album - it's all cries for cultural revolution, asylum bills, and karaoke dictatorships. It's a fantastic, angry, touching, fucked up storm of a record, whipping elements of Gypsy music, punk, dub and cabaret into a frenzied, all-inclusive mess. I'm fairly new to the party, but Gogol are no gimmick. Like the Pogues, theirs is a thrilling attempt at bastardising -- in the best possible way -- the ethnic music of their roots and creating a monster that's entirely their own. More of a demented ringmaster than a frontman, Eugene Hutz takes his vision of "Gypsy Punk", and all his built up anger and unrelenting desire to 'party', from New York to anyplace that will risk booking the band. And tonight, Sheffield gets the full Gogol experience. From the start, the venue's curious mix of old punks, metal-heads and innocent bystanders are swept up in the thrashing, heaving insanity of the music. In the second song, "Sally", Hutz strips down to the waist, as he writhes and jolts across the stage like a seedy, moustached Iggy Pop. The band's music remains at its most wired, coming to life in dingy, beery clubs like this. Songs like "Start Wearing Purple" and an extended, frenzied "Dogs Were Barking" are surely meant to be heard whilst watching the musicians dancing and reeling, and Hutz, like a Birthday Party-era Nick Cave, gesticulating wildly at the front row. Of course, with about six pints feeling heavy and that alcohol driven adrenaline fading to sheer bloody exhaustion, there's no real option but to duck out of the fray and head back to the bogs for a minute. From back there, the Gogol circus, in full flow, is impressive indeed. As far as sights to behold go, emerging from the grotty toilets of the Sheffield Corporation to see a band all over the stage might not sound particularly gripping, but you'll have to trust me on this one. As the muffled music floods back round my ears, seeing the stage illuminated with violin and accordion players lurching forwards, women in full gypsy gear throwing out packs of cards, and Hutz launching his mic, then his body into the crowd, is a grinning, thrilling experience. These might all be familiar tricks for the band, but they're not to me. The white-hot intensity from the stage is infectious and totally irresistible. As the show ends with a lighting rig pulled down and, to the exasperation of the bouncers, Hutz riding over the crowd on a bass drum, you wonder why more gigs can't be like this. I might well feel differently in the morning, but for tonight at least, I lost my head to Eugene Hutz's Gypsy Punk, and it felt great. At their best, Gogol Bordello are a relevant and electrifying movement, kicking and screaming through the world, taking whatever music they find and making it their own. Live, it's impossible not to get swept along by the sheer conviction and fury of it all -- and going to see them is something everyone should try at least once. It sure as hell beats watching Coldplay stare at their shoes.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.