Gogol Bordello – [Live]

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Gogol Bordello. The name itself, in the punk rock community, has come to be synonymous with maniacal frenzy, otherworldly roots, thunderous shows, and a message of revolution in amongst all the complainers. Everyone who finds themselves attending a Gogol Bordello show will be struck dumb by the amount of energy, both on stage in the band and rampant through the crowd, which is likened to a rush of adrenaline that simply has a life of its own. It is safe to say that Gogol Bordello ought to be on every list ever made of "bands to see before you die"; to miss such a performance is, while not unforgivable, definitely saddening, as one will probably never see so much zest in any other musical collective.

This show, at the Fillmore, was my fifth time seeing Gogol Bordello, and third time seeing them as a headliner instead. It was also the first show to introduce the freshest additions to their song catalog, care of the new album, Super Taranta!, which was released in early July. To say that I was in rampant anticipation of this show does not do it justice; it's been the one show I've literally waited for all year, after seeing them with a short, wild set when they opened for Primus in December of 2006. This marked one of their biggest appearances to date – even though they performed in early 2006 at the Warfield, with Cake, their following was not nearly as large as it was tonight, when the crowd poured into the sold-out Fillmore auditorium at the end of this warm August day.

The crowd was first greeted by a darkened stage, manned by one DJ Scratchy, a character who, despite having impressive taste in bands that spanned across Eastern Europe, Asia, and most of Central and South America, was somewhat lackluster as a performer. Having seen professional DJs in numerous shows, I can tell that it doesn't require a huge degree of concentration and skill to simply flip between CDs, with maybe a few fancy wah effects thrown in from time to time. As previously stated, however, the breadth of his collection was enough to make up for the simplicity of his performance. It was only moments after his departure that the lights began to dim. The moment was at hand!

A torrential roar of cheers overcame the audience as their gypsy punk heroes took the stage. Emerging with his eyes gleaming wildly, singer Eugene Hutz deftly swung his guitar around his back, already thrashing about as the band opened with "Ultimate," the first explosive piece from the aforementioned Super Taranta!. The crowd was brought to a moshing, slamdancing, bouncing state of hyperactive mania as a massive yellow banner, bearing the band's signature symbol—a slingshot firing a shining star, with the words "GYPSY PUNKS" emblazoned beneath—unfurled itself at the back of the stage. It was probably less than a minute before the entire auditorium was alive with a violent fervor, with Hutz throwing himself across the stage in a riotous frenzy while the rest of the band raced back and forth around him, instruments being played with a fevered level of energy. In addition to the chaos on stage, the dancefloor had come alive with a furious concentration of energy that ricocheted from person to person, so the massive audience moved as one entity, delirious with its love of the thunderous music.

Old, screaming favorites, as well as surprisingly reworked new live pieces, peppered the eclectic set, which continued nearly nonstop through 10 songs before returning to the three main favorites from the band's most previous effort, 2005's Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. "60 Revolutions" brought the crowd, and band, to their fastest thrashings seen thus far that night, and "Start Wearing Purple," the group's most well-known work, got the biggest response of the entire night, with numerous punkers scrambling to scream the chorus into Hutz's outstretched mic stand.

"Think Locally, Fuck Globally" ended the first part of the set with even more insane antics, as Hutz slammed a giant red metal bucket, labeled "FIRE" on the side, onto his microphone, before rattling on it furiously in a jackhammer-paced drumbeat, while two gypsy girls, armed with cymbals and a huge bass drum, flew about the stage. Not to be outdone by any other recent arrivals to the Fillmore, the band continued their show with two encores of three songs apiece, including a solemn, solo acoustic performance of the forlorn ballad "Alcohol," and—the final highlight of every Gogol Bordello show—a maddeningly dynamite, ever-continuing performance of "Baro Foro," punctuated with a few of the band members throwing themselves into the churning crowd as Hutz continued to kill himself on stage, his frenzied spirit never even seeming to flicker.

If you want to be part of a show that has an almost limitless capacity for living, breathing, surging, adrenaline-bleeding energy, there is no better show to see than Gogol Bordello. This show was easily their best, of all the ones that I have seen; the entire band was full of energy (though Hutz alone could easily surpass the rest of them over the course of a set), and as headliners, they were allowed much more liberty to take their performance to newer, higher levels of zest and wildfire. This is one band that I will continue to see, no matter how often they come to visit us, until the day I die.

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