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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Whisky- a- Gogol

Gogol Bordello - Saturday, January 3rd, 2009 - 9:30 Club, $36

NYC's Gogol Bordello played two shows at the 9:30 Club this past weekend (in case you've been out of town). I made it to night #2.

Three things about seeing this band:
1. I am late to this party, having only heard of GB this summer whilst at ACL. Sorry BYT, I missed your interview from 2007.
2. They sold out two consecutive nights during a sleepy post-holiday, pre-inauguration time in DC.
3. When I think of Eastern Europe, I think of palm readers and vampires. After seeing this show, when I think of Eastern Europe, I think of mustachioed palm readers and mustachioed vampires.

Gogol Bordello played the AT&T stage on day one of Austin City Limits (2008), at the same time we were checking out the Delta Spirit. I think it was also about the time we headed for a dip in Barton Springs; but GB were hard to miss on the jumbo tron - and tough to ignore given the size of the crowd they attracted.

It's hard to remember now exactly what I thought of them back then, especially since Emma Peel has rightly pointed out that they share some basic similarities to Monotonix. Hairy, foreign-ish, unpredictable. When I try to compare them to anything, Monotonix is the first thing I reach for - a second pick would be to compare GB's lead singer, Eugene Hütz, with a 30-something Frank Zappa.

Hütz

Zappa

On Friday night, DCRC failed to make it out to see Greenland at the Red & the Black, and instead opted to finally watch the Joe Strummer documentary (The Future is Unwritten), which I've had from Netflix since August. Sacklunch is slated to tell you more about that...

So when Saturday night rolled around, it seemed like a good idea to see what all the Gogol commotion was about. Accompanied by the honorable (and aforementioned) Emma Peel, I stood out front of the 9:30 club looking for a pair of tix to GB's second show, where we witnessed the arrival of Mr. Hütz by taxi, pulling up along side of us with a saucy lil lady. It seemed a bit odd that he entered through the front doors of the club after climbing out of a cab, but at least we were certain we hadn't missed anything on stage.

We procured a couple of tickets and made our way up to where RC normally stands, only to find that our favorite spot had been converted to a VIP, roped-off, area. VIP, indeed. Had Jumbo Slice been in attendance, he would have schmoozed his way in. Instead, we found a perch by the bar up top.

Uh huh. Fascinating. Is this going anywhere?
Right. Sorry. I've rarely seen a crowd so enthusiastic in DC as I did Saturday night. The club was packed, and Gogol Bordello brought out the accordion-infused gypsy-rock to the delight of the sea of Ukrainiaphiles gathered below. GB are performers, circus folk maybe. I'm not sure. Not being familiar with their catalog, I was nonetheless highly entertained by their showmanships. Yes, there were more than one of them.

A couple of songs in, two tall, healthy, young lasses wearing some sort of mask/hat with feathers joined onstage and played the wash boards. These nice young gals added another spectacle to behold, and raised the question: why aren't there cheerleaders for every occasion? I move that we add them to just about every event that is scheduled. Funerals might be a bit tough. But maybe not, tearleaders perhaps? But I think we can agree that men and women alike can appreciate pretty ladies getting their groove on.

Anyhow, as do most bands I hear for the first/second time, the GB sound began to repeat itself in my mind (and ear). Lots of up tempo danceable eastern-European sounding tracks (Bar Mitzvah-ready rock, as Emma Peel remarked). And then, I had a Dave Mathews Band flashback, as the eclectic nature of the instruments took hold of me and things seemed a bit too gleeful.

After a few more songs, the two young gals returned adorned with roller-derby appropriate shorts and tight tops, one of them carrying a marching-band bass drum. They were effective in erasing the DMB image from my mind, and Gogol Bordello continued to inspire the throngs to dance/jump/nod repeatedly in rhythm. I was rather impressed by this, as more often than not, there's lots of shoe gazing at the shows we see.

Still, this was a band that I only need to see once. Much like my reaction to Monotonix and Pleaseeasaur (although I ended up seeing him twice), the spectacle of the performance is the big pay-off. I don't need to give Gogol Bordello's CDs too many spins, I don't think. But their live show was worth waiting outside in the cold for 20 minutes asking around for tickets.

4 comments:

JetAgeEric said...

Greenland are goooooooood.

Jumbo Slice said...

I think we were just to lazy to walk to the other side of the park to catch Gogol Bordello during ACL. Plus, it was pretty packed. No chance of getting anywhere near the stage.

I hate when they block off part of the balcony for a VIP section. It's usually when a show is sponsored by one of the cheesy local radio stations. Luckily, we don't go to many of those shows. Last show I was at where they did it was Smashing Pumpkins (they sucked). Half of one side was taken up and there were about 6 people standing there.

Potsy said...

Some day, we will listen to the wisdom of others and attend some of these good shows.

Jumbo, I've never seen the extra vip section set up before Saturday. It's weird. And you're right, there was room in it when I got to it. Lame.

Caroline said...

Tearleaders indeed. You are brilliant, Potsy.