Friday, November 5, 2010

Show Review - Gogol Bordello - 11/5/10 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh


Thursday night at Mr. Smalls, the party known as Gogol Bordello visited our kind city. Gogol Bordello is one of the more celebrated live acts touring today—and with good reason. Tonight, they whipped the sold-out crowd into a frenzy with infectious, gypsy music-inspired punk, folk, and funk. Gogol Bordello’s show starts and stops with front man Eugene Hütz, whose onstage persona is bursting at the seams with wild-eyed charisma and tireless energy, delivered with a wink and a bit of a snarl. After openers Forro in the Dark had left the stage and the excitement began to build, many of us in the 21+ back section of the club began our migration to the front—not willing to merely witness the spectacle, but wanting to be a part of it as well. Once Gogol finally took the stage, the musical party began, arms went into the air, and the floor bounced with under our feet. Hütz led the charge with his music and his dancing. The gypsy musical sound is set by his acoustic strumming and the sometimes lulling, sometimes manic, accordion. As Hütz belts out his mad peasant croon, Gogol Bordello’s music is given strong groove and rock by heavy doses of bass, drums, violin, and Pedro Erazo’s rapping.

Highlights of the night for me were songs “Imigraniada” and “Break the Spell,” both off the most recent album Trans-continental Hustle. “Break the Spell” is one of those live songs that just keeps giving—the band was able to rock out an extended version which kept the crowd jumping and enthused. They even returned to this refrain during the encore. Erazo demonstrated a novel method of crowd surfing at one point, passing his marching-band style bass drum into the audience and then standing on top of the drum itself, from which he soon jumped into the arms of people below. My own (un-regretted) souvenir from the evening came in the form of a stain on my shirt from Hütz’s bottle of wine when he splashed it onto the crowd. Some talented Pittsburgher’s gave Gogol Bordello souvenirs as well. After the encore, the band came back to the stage and accepted two gorgeous oil paintings (one of Hütz and one of violinist Sergey Ryabtsev) that were being held above the crowd as the show started. Hütz seemed genuinely moved by the gesture, and rewarded us with one last song before the night ended. As the band bowed and left the stage, Hütz said, “Thank you, Pittsburgh. We are your friends, Gogol Bordello.” I think that many people tonight couldn’t help but agree with him.

--Daniel Hammer

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