Shake Your Tits

Gogol Bordello, Peaches, and Neung Phak show us their good stuff

By the time you read this, I will be gone. Climbing the stairs to the state building named for a Jedi dynasty that strikes back. Sparking my Bic for the green lady who still carries a torch for the Hudson. Getting the heebie-geebies from the bathrooms at CBGBs. Yes, I'm off to see the lights in New York City (as well as those in a McDonald's in New Jersey and in a few gas stations in Ohio, but who wants to ruin the fantasy now?). I'm going on a road trip with the local band Friends Like These, who invited me along on tour with them, and I can't wait to live the rock 'n' roll dream. In addition to spending every night in a bar, I'll get to live on old cheese sandwiches salvaged from the trunk of the car and convince random concertgoers to let me sleep at their houses when the show is over--which, now that I think about it, is not so different from how I live here in Minneapolis. Since I'll need to devote all of my concentration to perfecting my Derek Zoolander face for Rolling Stone's paparazzi, I'm afraid I'll have to abandon this column for a month. But before I start singing "Tiny Dancer" in the tour van, here's one for the road.

 

Gogol Bordello, Monday, May 3 at the 7th St. Entry Can I just tell you how amazing this Ukrainian Gypsy-punk band is? Since I've already poured rubber cement into my ears in order to ensure that I can't hear your cries of protest, here goes. The bare-chested frontman sports a handlebar mustache that seems to unroll every time he trills a buccaneer rrrr. The ponytailed fiddler bounces to each oom-pah until the fringe on his pantaloons flutters like coquettish eyelashes. The accordionist crushes his squeezebox so hard that one expects it to squirt juice. And before Gogol Bordello even launch their first salvo from the stage, the curtains just give up and set themselves on fire.

Shake your coconuts: Neung Phak, before they were accosted with piña colada ingredients
Nathan Grumdahl
Shake your coconuts: Neung Phak, before they were accosted with piña colada ingredients

Okay, so maybe someone accidentally threw her cigarette butt into those curtains. But once the Entry staff extinguishes the flames and the Marlboro-huffers suck up the remaining smoke, it doesn't matter: Singer Eugene Hütz swings from the rafters, surfs the speakers, beats on a bucket, and pulls his backup dancers' pigtails while the giddy audience behaves as if the floor has turned to lava. We jump. We hop. We kick. We stomp. And by the time a smartly attired stranger asks if I want to dance (last recorded partner-dancing at the Entry: 1902) everyone's lost in the music. We wave our arms like drowning people as Hütz raises a "Think locally, Fuck globally" banner. His multi-culti fans beam back at him with a look that suggests they're excited about more than just grassroots organizing. Tonight, he's gonna be giving mustache rides from here to Kiev.

 

Peaches, Saturday, May 8 at First Avenue I'm so tired of hearing my lesbian friends groan, Why can't I find a nice, religious girl--you know, someone who will revere my crotch like a burning bush? Well, sigh no more, ladies, for Peaches is here. "I don't like to make the choice/I like girls, I like boys," the diminutive diva sings on "I U She," and just to prove she's not discussing her platonic affinities, the next song finds her commanding, "Shake your tits! Shake your dicks!" while nearly licking the dildos attached to her female backup dancers' shorts. In fact, as Peaches gives lip service to her booming electro beats, I keep a running count of all the things that touch her tongue: the microphone, the speakers, her own armpits, her fingers, audience members' fingers, First Avenue's railing, Iggy Pop's face on a movie screen, her dancers' thighs, and probably her own thighs, if she can reach them. By the end of the night, jocks, gay boys, and hippie girls alike are captivated by her Tiny Elvis gyrations, though I'm not quite sure what unites us as Peaches fans. Are we excited about deconstructing the guitar as phallic symbol? Are we reveling in the political gains advanced by do-me feminism? Nah. We just like sex.

 

Neung Phak, Sunday, May 9 at the Triple Rock Social ClubNeung Phak are by far the best Southeast Asian psych-pop fusion group I've ever seen. Coincidentally, they are also the only Southeast Asian psych-pop fusion group I've ever seen. Nevertheless, after this performance, I'm never listening to another one again, because really, who can compete with their half-time show? After playing a handful of pretty Thai, Cambodian, and Vietnamese hits, these Oakland art-pranksters get accosted by a man with a Ramones haircut who jumps onstage and commandeers the microphone, screaming in another language. "He wants to sing a song," translates one of Neung Phak's singers as the man shrieks wildly. But the band doesn't know the song he wants. Getting extremely angry, he pulls out a large bomb-shaped object wrapped in gold paper. "Is that what I think it is?" asks another singer, terrified. The dude nods his head. The band tries to placate him with flowers, but it's no use. He rips off the gold paper. The singers scream! The crowd screams! And there in his hands is something terrifying. Okay, it's just a coconut. But if you'd ever imbibed nine piña coladas with a Polynesian exotic dancer-cum-Jimmy Buffet fan-club vice president (don't ask) and paid the price in the morning, you'd be scared, too.

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