Gogol Bordello @ Irving Plaza, NYC
Live Reviews | Jun 11th, 2006
Opening Bands: Outernational, Dub Trio
Date: June 9th 2006
Venue: Irving Plaza, NYC
I’ve only seen Gogol Bordello once before and that was in Philly 2 months ago. I was happy to hear they were going to be playing again, this time in New York City. This was going to be some benefit concert for an organization against police brutality towards Gypsies in the Ukraine. Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much traffic going into Manhattan, so we arrived at Irving Plaza half hour before the doors open. We got into the club and I went upstairs and got my spot along the side of the balcony. I like the spot because it’s close to the stage and you can see the crowd dancing. I just don’t feel like getting all sweaty and standing in crowds anymore. Actually I never liked doing that, even when I was younger. But last time we sat there, we got into an argument with some fat soccer moms at a Saw Doctors show. We were willing to risk yelling at people to back off just to see Gogol Bordello in a prime spot.
The first band was called Outernational and they are from Brooklyn I believe? They had a middle eastern hip-hop, ska/reggae, and rock sound. It’s hard to categorize them into one genre but they started the show off just right. The first two songs were really good and got the crowd moving and dancing. I was watching the crowd, as the tallest guy in the pit would dance in the back, and then push all the little kids down. Way to be a chickenshit bully ya ass. I felt like going down there and just slamming him to the crowd to give him a taste of his own medicine. But anyway, the singer rapped pretty good, and he also sang the punkier tunes just as well. The last song was very ska-ish and I liked that one a lot. Definitely surprised how much I liked the band and curious to hear how they sound on CD. I believe it was produced by Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and I think Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello worked on one track.
The next band was Dub Trio out of Brooklyn, and I knew I wasn’t going to like them based on the name alone. I can’t stand dub and think it’s completely boring to listen to. So imagine what I thought when I had to sit through a half hour set of these guys playing the music live. Musically, the band sounded okay and had some creative songs BUT to watch a dub band, must have been one of the most boring experiences I had to witness. I think watching paint dry might be more exciting. Dub’s okay to listen to in the background, but to see live, my god it’s boring. The band didn’t acknowledge the crowd or even talk to them until the very end when they got done. I was like, wow they speak.
Kultur Shock was up next and they were interesting to say the least. The band really is a culture shock because each member seems to be from a different area of the world (same can be said for Gogol Bordello I guess). Members are from The US, Japan, Bulgaria and Bosnia. Musically speaking, I wasn’t really feeling it. It almost seemed too chaotic and didn’t mesh well. They had a mixture of Gypsy punk, metal, rock, and any other type of music you can think of. The singer looked scary and looked like he could kick some ass too. I thought he almost looked like some over-the-top bad guy in a Michael Bay movie. I didn’t like his singing voice but the Japanese belly dancer was nice to look at. The best song Kultur Shock played was when Eugene from Gogol came out and sang a song with the band. The crowd really dug the band and demanded an extra song be played when they went off . So they did another song and then it was time for the main act, Gogol Bordello.
The venue was now filled up since it was sold out, and everyone was anticipating Gogol Bordello getting on stage. The music before the band was getting the crowd into the show before they came on. The lights went down low and the group came out. They opened with “Immigrant Punk” and then went into “Sally.” I was cheering and clapping, along with the rest of the sold out crowd. The girls Pamela and Elizabeth came out on stage to sing while Eugene was up on some speakers near the drum platform. After the girls sang “East Infection,” I believe they played “Never Young” next. Eugene was grabbing them around the necks as they screamed into the mic, and then they would collapse to the floor. Quite an amusing sight to see. Around that time of the set they played “Start Wearing Purple” and “60 Revolutions,” two of my favorite Gogol Bordello songs. The singer of Kultur Shock came out for “Start Wearing Purple” and they did that song a lot better than they did in Philly. Also throughout the set, Eugene would get on top of the bouncers shoulders and step on them. Some of them looked amused, others looked embarrassed and other bouncers looked pissed off. I love when he does that because there’s always that photo pit so he can’t really get to the crowd too much. I just like to see the reaction of the bouncer’s faces as this tall Ukrainian is about to be on their shoulders.
While the band was playing, I spotted Frodo in the backstage door watching his girlfriend going crazy on stage. Yes that’s right folks, Frodo is back from the Grey Havens! Okay if you don’t know who I’m talking about, it’s actor Elijah Wood. I had a feeling he’d show up tonight to see the band play since he was in the movie Everything is Illuminated with Eugene. I think he’s dating Pamela now too? He was there taking photos in the photo pit, i’m surprised the teenager crowd didn’t recognize him and maul him. But back to the show, They played one or two songs I never heard of but not exactly sure if they were on earlier albums or not. Gogol played a lot songs from their album “Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike” with the exception of “Avenue B,” “Santa Marinella” and I think they didn’t play “Underdog World Strike?” They might have but not entirely sure. Some of the stand out songs they played this time were “Not A Crime,” “Think Locally, Fuck Globally,” “Dogs Were Barking,” “Punk Rock Parranda” and “Mishto.” Oh, I forgot to mention that Karl of The Descendents is now playing bass for the band this summer as they tour all of Europe and then the end of the Warped Tour. He looked thrilled to be there and also looked amazed at how insane the crowd was going for the band. Gogol Bordello came back for an encore and played “Illumination” and they ended with a mixture of “Baro Foro” and “Undestructible.” The guitarist ended up playing guitar for Eugene while he sang “Illumination.” Last time I saw them, Eugene just sang & played the song. I still love hearing that song love, it’s an intense song even though it’s only acoustic. I also love “Baro Foro” and always end up singing the violin part after hearing that song. This time, Pamela put the bass drum onto the crowd and she got up there wailing away at it. Then Eugene grabbed the mic and joined her on the big drum as the crowd held them both up. She got off (the drum ya pervs!) and Eugene was now up there, until some girl from the crowd came to join Eugene on the drum. She took the missionary position for him and Eugene tumbled down into the crowd haha. They must have played the “Baro Faro/Undestructible” song for at least 10 minutes long. You’d think they were done with the song, and they’d come back for more.
The show was incredible entertaining and I had an exciting time. Gogol Bordello puts on one of the best live shows i’ve ever seen. I’d put them up there with Gwar, The Pogues, Levellers and Flogging Molly as my top 5 favorite live bands to see. Well Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Pilfers put on some fantastic shows too! But if you get a chance to see Gogol Bordello play in your neck of the woods, go see them perform. You will not be disappointed! “PARTY!”