Gogol Bordello LIVE review by J. Graham

Music Reviews
Gogol Bordello LIVE review by J. Graham
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Sep 4, 2007, 05:04

photo © 2007 by J. Graham

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GOGOL BORDELLO at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA; August 29, 2007

Gogol Bordello's music—nay, the band's very existence—celebrates movement. With songs about traveling thru far and foreign lands, the joys of ecstatic dancing, or simply the ol' in-out-in-out, the NYC gypsy-punk troupe always offers a forceful rebuke to apathy, leaden pretension, and anyone who'd dare stand still at a party.

Ah, but this is San Francisco—a city where the earth can literally move beneath your feet and the locals will just shrug it off. How would Gogol's raucous 'n' ribald circus extravaganza fare in such a stoic environment?

Answer: like fucking magic. After being warmed up by a globe-trotting selection of ethnic disco shimmies from DJ Scratchy, the Fillmore audience was ready to blow from Gogol's first fiddle note. Clearly this capacity crowd—notwithstanding a fair number of unsuspecting noobs, curious to investigate the hype and woefully unprepared in the dancing-footwear department—had come to rip it up. So when lead singer Eugene Hutz bounded onstage and the kickdrums booted into gear, a sea of pogoing bodies frothed into instant motion. Call it controlled chaos with a gypsy twist. Cameras whirred, bodies flew, and the noobs instantly retreated to the only safe ground: the very back of the room.

In spite of the surrounding human cyclone, the band's performance was, as always, musically spot-on throughout. One would expect such an energetic spectacle of jumps and jolts to generate at least a few flubbed accordion notes or detuned acoustic guitars. But Gogol Bordello 2K7 is a machine, right down to the subtle dynamic details. Gogol no longer trades in some of the cheaper gimmicks of previous tours, e.g., costumed theatrics or calculated crowd-surfing. Tonight, teasing the audience with ebbing decrescendos and rearrangements, Gogol tweaked the music—a vicious rhythmic

photo © 2007 by J. Graham

breakdown here, some extraneous dancehall toasting there—into flexible ropes with which to whip the lapdogs into a pack of ravenous beasts. And the audience, thirsty bitches all, lapped it up. It didn't even matter that most of this night's set featured new material (“Wanderlust King,” “Alcohol,” “American Wedding”) while old favorites went conspicuously missing. There were Deadhead levels of adulation at work here. The band could have set “Kumbayah” to a klezmer beat and hallelujahs would've rained from the rafters.

But all good things must come, finally, to an end. After nearly two full hours of frenzy, Gogol sawed through an extended second-encore medley of “Baro Foro / Undestructable” as exhausted bodies made one last surge. The band began to stumble offstage, only to get pelted by a wad of paper someone threw at Eugene. Picking it up, he dutifully announced a gypsy-swing after-party to be held at Amnesia—a crimson den in SF's Mission District that can capacitate, oh, roughly one-twentieth the size of tonight's rabid audience. One can only hope they had stocked plenty of vodka in advance.

-J. Graham

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