Word by: Martin Halo | Images by: Rod Snyder
Gogol Bordello :: 03.01.08 :: The Electric Factory :: Philadelphia, PA
As the rest of Philadelphia appeared peaceful, the punks gathered. All green spiked Mohawks, tattered jeans and leather jackets, the toxic droves converged on the Electric Factory. They were there to feast their eyes on the jaw dropping musical spectacle of Gogol Bordello. The first time I saw them perform my jaw was stapled to the floor. I didn't know what was more captivating, the pure lunacy of the whole thing or the general bizarreness to a point of bald fascination.
Inside, Yiddish folk music with a steroid injected tempo blared through the house PA. It was ominous. As the lights fell, a monstrous surge from the general admission floor literally re-positioned the barricades, which were weighed down by football player sized security guards riding them like training dummies. The audience was holding the kinetic energy; but it was the band that provided the bolt.
Frontman Eugene Hutz emerged over the audience. He looked like a giant with stringy hair, dangling earrings and florescent pants. It was almost like a cult ceremony. What made it sinister and embodied the essence of punk rock was the overgrown mustache protruding from his upper lip.
In constant motion to his right was fiddler Sergey Ryabtsev, who sported all black, accented by his long white hair. Ryabtsev served as the lead burst and his tone penetrated the rest of the fold. The fiddle further solidified the gypsy attitude, as he rode it like a sorority girl straddling a mechanical bull. Finishing out the original membership, dating back to their 1999 beginnings in the barrooms of Manhattan's Lower East Side, is accordion player Yuri Lemeshev. With a staggering step, hunched back and flat brimmed hat, Lemeshev tickled the vertical keys in a lighting manner. The whole scene was just bizarre. There were Gypsy punks from the Ukraine onstage, accompanied by an audience going ape shit, sparked by an initial surge of adrenaline that lasted deep into the set.
Gogol Bordello :: 03.01.08
The Philadelphia performance was the opening night of a tour in support of 2007's Super Taranta that will last until June. Taking the stage at 10 p.m., their main set lasted about an hour with a four-song encore. Hutz performed the majority of the evening shirtless as he transitioned between his acoustic guitars and taunted the crowd with his microphone.
"Shut the fuck up and dance," he exclaimed in an Eastern European grunt before leaping off the stage. As the audience raged, Hutz climbed on the shoulders of the nearest security guard as their Eastern European strut commenced. The Electric Factory was on fire and the gypsies reigned. The sound rose to the rafters.
"Start wearing purple, wearing purple," sang Hutz on a classic off the band's 2005 release, Gypsy Punk Underdog World Strike. But, as the Bordello benchmarks rolled off their musical tongue the night was focused on supporting the new record.
"This is our home territory," said Hurtz. "We start and end all of our tours here." He then proceeded to toast the road before he treated the Philly audience to Bordello obscurities.
Gogol Bordello isn't about the musicianship it isn't about the jams, it's all about having the best possible time at a show, and when we are talking about this band that's not too hard to manifest.
Eugene Hutz riding security :: Gogol Bordello :: 03.01.08
Gogol Bordello :: 03.01.08
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