Monday, April 17, 2006

Gogol Bordello at the Trocadero

Gogol Bordello, "Immigrant Punk"

Gogol Bordello, "Avenue B"

I got back on the concert horse this past Friday, heading to the Gogol Bordello show at the Trocadero in Chinatown. This was to be my second time seeing the band, and I could not have been more excited. The first time was last summer at the TLA on South Street, a larger venue that was not even half-full. My expectations were low in the face of such a weak turnout, but lead singer Eugene Hutz and Gogol destroyed shit. It was and is one of the best shows I have ever seen, a great chance to see a band that has a unique sound and a desire to entertain its fans. Hutz acted the part of the Ukranian Iggy Pop, climbing speakers, running around the stage, destroying equipment, taking clothes off. The rest of the band was talented, creating that unique sound that blends the Lower East Side with the Old Country.

I went into this most recent show with high expectations, a packed house and a group to go with. Amazingly, this show just didn't do it for me. First, the opening act, Zao, was awful. Their music sounded like an 80s hair band, with long, wanking solos and weak songs. I mean, how could a band as amazing and unique as Gogol choose such a bland, uninteresting tourmate? It doesn't make sense, and is a real lost opportunity for the band to get the night started right.

After an interminable delay, Gogol Bordello finally went on around 10:15, 10:30 and the place went apeshit. MC and I were standing close to the soundboard on the edge of the floor, under the balcony. The entire floor began jumping and moshing, and really didn't let up the entire night. It was amazing, and unlike any other show I have been to recently. Unfortunately, I never felt that same excitement, as the music and performance never hit home. I felt like the band sounded much louder and less subtle than before, drowning out the gypsy, Eastern European sound in loud guitars and general noise. Oh, and they had a guest rapper/hype man come on, and he added nothing to the show, ruined the one song he particpated in and generally seemed to be a unneccessary distraction.

As the show wore on, I felt like they started to open up, letting the songs extend and extend, gainging that hypnotic, repetitive gypsy sound that I love. For the record, I believe that the three women I went with loved the show. MC, EC and LM can feel free to add their voices, as I imagine that they saw and heard a different show. I don't want this to be the last word on the band, one of my favorites, as it pains me to write critical words about a band on the rise that I love. I will spend the rest of this week looking at their music and some of the side projects that Hutz is involved in. If the interest and time is there, I would love to look at the music of Eastern Europe, a vital music that seems to be undergoing a renaissance of sorts, finding audiences around the world.

Straight outta the shtetl, motherfuckers!!!


trash head said...

well, i'll grant you that none of the songs really brought the straight eastern european gypsy vibe (they stuck with more of the harder punk sound); that was a bit of a letdown. but the energy of the show was incredible, and for me, it was really a question of taste, rather than talent. plus, those backup girls (shout out to ya, elizabeth and pam!) were nothing less than inspirational!

EC said...

I agree with Trash Head. Great energy, really entertaining show. A lot of it still sounds a bit like Hava Nagila (sp?) to me, but that adds to the fun of it--there's just something amazing about the juxtaposition of that sound with a bunch of teenagers moshing and crowd surfing, that really gives me a huge kick!
Plus, i love those gogol ladies too-- in fact, i'm hoping to one day audition to become one of them...