Gogol Bordello Outside the Cabooze, June 12 By Andrea Myers
Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. “Hey!” Jump. “Hey!”
It was easy to get the hang of what to do at a Gogol Bordello show. Set to a steady stream of acoustic guitar strums, percussive accordions and thumping bass drums, it was impossible to hold still during the hour and a half or more of the band's self-proclaimed style of Gypsy punk.
Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello. See more photos by Alexa Jones in the gallery.
Though I did try, at first—taken aback by the size of the crowd, I was a bit intimidated to plunge into what looked like a swarm of flailing limbs and bobbing heads. For the first half of their set I hung near the back of the crowd, bobbing my head to the beat and watching sweaty and dazed-looking concertgoers emerge from the throngs of people and refill their plastic cups of beer. A sign on the back of the stage proclaimed “Gogol Bordello: Gypsy Punk Revolution,” and as far as I could tell the revolution hinged on slugging beers, smoking joints and dancing like marionette dolls cut off at the strings.
Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. "Hey! Hey! Hey!"
Lead singer Eugene Hutz spoke and sang with a thick Ukrainian accent, leading his band of Gypsies with a seemingly endless fountain of enthusiasm. Shirtless, dressed in tight striped green pants and sporting a thick mustache and mane of flowing, curly hair, Hutz's appearance was exactly what I expected from listening to their records: part circus ringleader, part gracious freakshow host, Hutz bounded across the stage with an energy that rippled through the entire crowd and was palpable even at the back of the penned-off outdoor space.
Just as I was about to tire of the relentless beat and repetitive music, my friend emerged from the crowd, grabbed my hand, and literally dragged me all the way to the base of the stage. What ensued was a strange combination of bouncing, shoving and fist-pumping that I can only equate to a mosh pit on pogo sticks and speed; the only way to avoid having your feet smashed by the pandemonium was to keep bouncing up and down until eternity. Which ended up being alright, because the band supplied the soundtrack for our madness and egged us on by flinging bottles full of water on our heads. The people up front were crammed so closely together that the entire sea of bodies jumped up and down in unison, one swaying and bobbing mass held together by the string of a violin and the shake of a tambourine. So this is why the band can't change tempo, I thought to myself. If the music stopped the whole crowd might have collapsed into a pile of rubble.
Before long the shoving gave way to more aggressive, testosterone-fueled behavior, and I backed up a bit to take in the chaos from a safer distance. The band ended their set to a roar of applause and cheers, and as they filed off the stage the audience started an impromptu chant of “Gyp-sy punk, Gyp-sy punk.” Unsurprisingly, the band was far from finished performing, and they returned to play nearly a half hour more of what seemed like one song that slowly built from Hutz playing solo acoustic guitar to the full band joining him in a swirling, pulsating frenzy.
Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. "Hey!" Jump. "Hey!"