Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Shock and Awe of Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5

Gogol Bordello
@ Terminal 5
New York, NY - November 3, 2007

Much like Flogging Molly's Dave King, Eugene Hutz an immigrant to these shores, and he's retained the musical heritage of his nationality to mesh with hardcore punk. But unlike Flogging Molly, Hutz takes Gogol Bordello further in its aesthetic. He and his band ham it up with displays of fashion and spectacle, to the point where it is border-line gimmick. And frankly, Hutz would just be Borat if he wasn't the real deal. And it is with this authenticity, this legitimacy, that Hutz makes Gogol Bordello such an overpowering, overwhelming force. And this mandate is articulated in what is perhaps the most dominating aspect of the Gogol experience: the fans. There can't be many, if any, other crowds that are this intense on such a wide scale and in such a wide breadth. Hipsters, punks, artists, Russian clubbers, old folks, young folks, teens, druggies, drunkards, fashionistas...everyone was at this thing. And just about everyone was bouncing off the wall. From the front to the back, all points in between, the entire floor - hundreds of people, if not over a thousand - was a pit. And it wasn't so much a mosh pit as it was a pit of dancing and mass movement. Every hand up in the air. Every single one. And everyone jumping. And the most intense crowd surfing possible. It was all very much like the wedding fiesta Hutz yearns for in his critique "American Wedding" (by the way, anyone who sings about marinated herring is automatically one of the greats of the age). Hutz is the messiah of these meshugganah. And it is hypnotic.
But except for exquisite outburts like "Start Wearing Purple" and "Wanderlust King", all this star-bursting energy starts to take a pretty quick toll. The dancing luchadore (who sometimes seems to think he's in Papa Roach rather than Gogol Bordello) and the girls and all the rest can only go so far. The tension between Hutz's authenticity and the gimmicky excesses is strong. It's a memorable, awe-inspiring experience, but it's almost too much. These gypsy punks - sometimes more like gypsy pirates than anything else - lead a very rockin' ship of state. But it could tip over at any minute.

Some more evaluation of Terminal 5: If you don't get there early, the only good views are in the back of the floor, by the back bar. And the sound is awful back there. Utterly awful.

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At November 5, 2007 at 12:24:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree that the sound at terminal 5 is not the best but I know most if not all the peole there knew the music and lyrics by heart... me included... so the place rocked from the minute they came on. They are one of the most awesome acts I've seen in a long time and seeing them is always one big giant party. They are very audience friendly and really give it their all. That's why they sell out so quickly. One side note: I think we will probably see the wig and pumps Eugene wore for one of the songs on Saturday in the Madonna short "Filth and Wisdom" coming out in 2008. It should be interesting!

At December 19, 2007 at 3:44:00 PM EST, Blogger laura_d said...

Hello there,

I was at that show, too. I'm not a big fan of Terminal 5. I was in the midst, tho, up front, so it was all madness... If you're interested, I submitted a piece to NPR, which didn't get broadcast but it is in their online database... short inspired piece about the pit...

I believe in mosh pits..."


At January 11, 2008 at 10:11:00 AM EST, Blogger  said...

This was such a great NYE. The Hutz is incredible. Not at any point do you have trouble taking him seriously, as absurd as he is. He IS for real. He loves what he does, is honestly living life, and it's not often that I feel I have something to learn from a band's frontman.

"We haven't played this song in 5 years... fucking kids"


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