Concert Review: Gogol Bordello (Austin, 11/01)
If you’ve ever been to a concert in Austin, you might know that Austin crowds have a certain…reputation. When The Knux shouted at us during the ACL festival, they unknowingly summed it up right there (even if they were just as much to blame for their show’s issues). Other than metal shows (of which there are few in our town) or hardcore punk shows (even less so), you’re pretty hard-pressed to find a raucous crowd in Austin, one that engages in potentially violent moshing, needless shoving, and general craziness.
When all the stars align, and you combine the right crazy-inducing band playing the last night of their tour with the fact that Stubb’s holds a fairly large amount of people, you’re bound to have yourself an interesting and exciting night. And it’s not hard to figure out why Gogol Bordello gets people’s blood pumping if you’ve listened to their albums…their music is celebratory in the rowdiest way possible, and that’s how they like it. Lead singer Eugene Hutz makes no bones about enjoying life to its fullest and most debauchery-fueled (even hilariously dissing American nightlife as they were leaving the stage on Sunday). I could tell by how drunk people were more than an hour before the show started that it was going to be a good one, and thankfully, I wasn’t wrong.
Canadian band Apostle of Hustle opened for Gogol, and even though their MySpace page says there are four band members, I’m pretty sure there were only two guys up there. The duo jammed out in a nerdy hipster style, combining a number of genres into a blend of experimental indie rock. Their set was definitely slow to start, but it picked up as it went on and they closed out on a couple of pop-tinged numbers that had the audience swaying along. Lead singer, guitarist, and instrumentalist Julian Brown was entertaining as much for his stage personality as his music, swigging from a bottle of white wine and holding up a giant sign that read “Is Anybody Else High?” Easily, the most impressive part of the show was percussionist Dean Stone, who plays a mean drum kit, translating a number of jazz riffs into rock beats to great affect.
Click the jump to read the rest of the Gogol review, see pictures, and find out what people do during a song called “Alcohol”!
Gogol Bordello took the stage slightly after 8 pm, starting the show off with “Ultimate” from Super Taranta! and the crowd responded in kind, the entire area in front of the stage becoming a giant crush that pushed back and forth to the music (check out the jostling in the video!). Only certain bands would be able to conjure up that kind of excitement in the air, and Gogol easily had the most electric and contagious energy of any show I’ve attended. When there are 100 people jumping and thrashing around you, it’s impossible not to join the fun, even if it means taking a few elbows to the ribs (or in the case of really tall people who don’t mind their limbs, taking a few to the head and shoulders).
In the first 30 minutes of the show, Gogol busted out some of their biggest songs: “Wonderlust King”, “Not A Crime”, “60 Revolutions”, and “Tribal Connection“. Eugene, ultra-badass violin/fiddle player Sergey, nuts percussionist/backup singers Elizabeth and Pamela, and Spanish-speaking MC Pedro somehow manage to keep the energy sky-high throughout the entire show AND play/sing seamlessly. I wrote in my album review that the first time I had seen them live (at the ACL festival) I was amazed at how they can keep perfect breakneck pace and still stalk around the stage interacting with the audience. It was even more impressive this time because the show ran nearly two hours, and each time the crowd startled to settle in, the band amped things up again.
After about an hour in the pit, we decided to take a breather and watch the show from the front of the sound booth, pleased to find that the audience further back was no less excitable than the pit crowd. As if an amazingly fun show couldn’t get much better, since it was the last show of the tour, Gogol thrilled the crowd with a triple curtain call, beginning with “Alcohol” (during which a couple in front of us passionately made out and another girl danced seductively) and extending out to a medley of “Start Wearing Purple” and “Undestructable” among others.
At the end of the show, I felt just as drained and exuberant as if I had attended a festival all day and it was only 10 pm when we left. I totally missed the aftershow at Lovejoy’s because, unfortunately, real life calls on a Sunday night, but I’m sure it was worth waiting around for (if you were there, leave a comment and tell me how it was!).
All told, Gogol Bordello amazed, surprised, and majorly rocked out the crowd at Stubb’s. Even though their tour is over, make sure you catch them the next time around, because a gypsy punk show is not an experience any other bands can provide. For now, you can watch my video above! Thanks to Seanningham as usual for the awesome graphics and editing!