Gogol Bordello has played the main stages at Coachella, Lollapalooza and All Points; the group and frontman Eugene Hutz was declared totes buds with Madonna during the Live Earth enviro-orgy in 2007. Last night at Brooklyn Bowl — cap. 600 — the mulit-lingual, gypsy-punk rockers moved the large scale madness down no notches for the reduced sized venue.
While the majority of the crowd smilingly sipped their beers in the back of the hall, those in the know where pressing hot bodies with other hot bodies in a swirl of pogoing girls, purse-less, and oft-shirtless boys-to-men gripping the air and reducing to a good-natured alpha mosh. The celebratory tone of the night (a normal sentiment, btw) was cast from the band’s most recent accomplishment, yesterday’s proper release of their new, Rick Rubin-produced “Trans-Continental Hustle.”
As brutal as this sounds, let it be a compliment: this album is the best-sounding effort the decade-old band has made yet, though the least frenzied, but either way, it doesn’t really matter. “Trans-Continental,” nor the other four releases, are something generally you just pop into your player. It’s a whetting of the whistle, a good idea that can’t possibly measure up to the band’s live show, their bread and butter. The albums — 2005’s “Super Taranta!” especially — are good guides for fans to memorize, when to point to the sky and scream “oy!”, when those 2/4s go double time, when the echoes and sing-along are to be sung back to the band.
As is said in the band’s bio: “All music is f**king yours.” And they’re right. We are all friends and owners by time this thing is done. Hutz appreciated and bowed to the patience of the room new to “Trans-Continental” and may have to calm their shimmying to head-bobbing pace on new tracks like “Sun Is On My Side” or the lyric-heavy “Rebellious Love.” But then there’d be classics like “Wonderlust King.” And then rapper Pedro Erazo would don his Crazy Eyes (TM) and stick his arms into the crowd like a dangerous dare, or Hutz would fling his guitar aside and take up clapping just to make those rhythmically challenged still feel at home. Throughout, the backup singer and rhythm player Elizabeth Sun would crouch and lunge at the end of the stage, pointing her mallet, clear-eyed and with a purpose, whipping show-goers into a frenzy with psychic power.
After two deserved encores, and most everyone was spent and bruised the band spent a whole five minutes shaking hands with each other, with the fans, handing out waters like, “Sorry we have to stop, but we think you’re cool too.”
So my suggest rules of conduct at a Gogol Bordello show: bring no coat, no dangly jewelry. Keep your pockets as empty as possible and wear a shirt you don’t mind getting beer on, or a one that you don’t mind taking off altogether. Go with a buddy, leave with 10 more buddies. Hydrate and head to the front.
What’s even cooler is that Gogol is taking acts like El Bronx and DeVotchka on the road with them for their spring/summer tour. The former is one of the loudest bands ever to don Mariachi garb; the latter has a lead singer who’s voice I wish I could make sweet love to, were sex with a voice possible.