Eugene Hütz, founder of the acclaimed gypsy rock group, Gogol Bordello, was a teenager when the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986 displaced his family in Kiev, Ukraine. Since then, Hütz seems to have converted that chaotic, atom-splitting energy into “complete orgasmal hysteria” onstage – which is how Hütz has described the group’s live performances (NPR Interview, 2007).
[picapp src=”2/b/1/6/2009_All_Points_9389.jpg?adImageId=7247119&imageId=5719569″ width=”500″ height=”322″ /] (L to R: Gogol Bordello’s Yuri Lemeshev, Sergey Ryabstev and Eugene Hütz)
Here’s what a couple of my Facebook friends told me this week about seeing Gogol Bordello live:
- Dana – I just saw them at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans and at Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival last year. I wanted to run away with them. Totally contagious.
- Brian – I “lurves” me some gypsy rock. I saw them at ACL a couple years ago. Very high-energy – the crowd couldn’t help but dance.
Until recently, I had never heard of the band. I’m probably the last person who can claim that in indie listening circles, because Hütz, the group’s leader, knows how to draw attention to himself, thanks to his charisma, philosophical bent and sweaty decadence.
To date, the band has its own documentary, “Gogol Bordello Non-Stop” (Hoptza Films, 2008), has performed with pop powerhouse Madonna and has appeared at countless marquee music festivals across the globe. Hütz also played leading roles in the movies “Everything is Illuminated” (Warner Independent Pictures, 2005) and Madonna’s directorial debut, “Filth and Wisdom” (IFC Films, 2008).
On Oct. 6, 2009, Gogol Bordello released a CD/DVD set called “Live from Axis Mundi” (SideOneDummy) that includes footage from a concert in New York City as well as a BBC radio session.
The music attacks the senses. Every time I tried to settle into any particular beat or sound, Gogol Bordello pulled me by the ear to witness another jarring style or musical idea. The group smashes dub, gypsy music, punk, caberet and more into loud anthems that make me want to sing and cast my vote for something – with Gogol Bordello, that’s probably something extreme.
My favorite track is “Ultimate,” which was from a 2008 live performance on BBC- Radio 1’s “In The Company Of (with Colin Murray).”
Here’s a taste of the lyrics (word order is faithful to the recording):
“An evolution is eternal
An evolution isn’t over
And everybody knows
That if we are here, not to do
What you and I wanna’ do
And go forever crazy with it
Why the hell we are even here?
When Hütz yells at the end of each verse, it’s time to party like a car crash.
Since words really can’t describe Gogol Bordello, here are a couple videos:
- The song, “Ultimate” from the 2008 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGuOypqaYzU
- The song “La Isla Bonita” with Madonna at Live Earth 2007, www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0C9DDle2Cw
Sources: www.punknews.org (Gogol Bordello Announces “Live from Axis Mundi”), www.npr.org (Gypsy Punk Group Gogol Bordello in Concert, July 18, 2007), www.imdb.com (Eugene Hütz page), www.hoptzafilms.com/gogol.html,
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