LastNight: Gogol Bordello at the Warfield

Categories: Last Night, Music

(Click on the photo for a slideshow. Photos by Gretchen Robinette)
By Melissa Baron

Gogol Bordello
March 13, 2008
The Warfield
Better Than: Thirsty Thursday.
Download: The entire album "Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike." Actually, don't be a jerk. Buy it. Also, rent Everything is Illuminated.

Some shows get you hot. The only adequate comparison is an orgy (or so I would imagine). Not a contemporary orgy where a few couples get together and go at it, but an old school orgy full of strangers. The pace changes from long to short, slow and fast. Every gets sweaty, ladies scream. Lust-possessed people grind all over each other and limbs fly. It takes a special sort of band to arouse a sold out Warfield into a frenzy. A band like Gogol Bordello.

I don't know how they do it, but every time I've seen them perform they've sold out the show and sent fans into a tizzy. Maybe it's their exotic roots (Lower East Side of New York by way of Eastern Europe, etc). Perhaps it's their Gypsy roots. But if you ask me, they just fucking rock. Front man Eugene Hutz could turn men gay and ladies into sex fiends. Those who are too snotty to actually listen to Gogol Bordello might remember him as Alex from the film adaptation of Everything is Illuminated. His superb vocals and guitar come backed by Eliot Ferguson on drums, Oren Kaplan on guitar, Sergey Ryabtsev on violin, Yury Lemeshev on accordion, Pamela Racine and Elizabeth Sun doing some percussion and dance and Thomas "Tommy T" Gobena.

Together they look like the coolest people on the planet. It's that effortless cool. They have awesome clothes, better dance moves and the greatest stage presence. No one talks too much, but they all expect the audience to sing along.

The set tonight left no one disappointed. They covered all the hits -- "I Would Never Wanna be Young Again," "American Wedding," "Alcohol," "Think Locally, Fuck Globally" and of course, "Start Wearing Purple." They played for almost two hours. After the first hour and a half they exited, only to come on stage to play a 35 minute encore. Now that's what I call punk. Highlights of the set included a bad ass DJ intro, Hutz literally kicking a roadie off stage, multiple costume changes for the dancers and Hutz drinking wine out of a bottle on stage. Plus, his shirt was off two songs in. More importantly, the band mastered controlling the stage. They have a lot of members so they can fill the stage nicely, but they make sure to move around and give everyone a little love. I briefly held Hutz's hand, but not for long enough. I could hold it forever.

My attitude towards the show didn't start so positively. The opener, Skindred from England, seemed borderline painful. They sound like a band created from the ashes of Korn, Bob Marley and Panic! At the Disco. Custom made from MTV2 late night music videos. On top of terrible music, their banter with the audience often sounded unnecessarily abrasive. The lead singer introduced a song as "a song for people who like to dance." He noticed no one dancing and stopped the song to say "this is for the fucking people who like to dance -- you know those things on the end of your knees? Feet?" Perhaps from someone else I'd find it amusing, not from them. He ended the set saying "I just wanna say, if I've offended anyone -- fuck you." The vocals sounded almost decent though. The dreadlocked lead singer should start a funk/soul band. He'd sound better giving that a try.

I started getting nervous watching the crowd file in. I anticipated the gypsy punks with odd hair, pseudo-dreads and a distinct odor. However, I never anticipated the hodgepodge of wannabe pirates, slutty dancing girls, couples escaped from the Ren Fair, or nerdy guys in baseball caps with hoodies tied around their waste that know every word to every Skindred song. But by the end of the night, I'm sure I'd gyrated and uncomfortably touched all the people I felt so repulsed by initially. I guess that's the real beauty of Gogol Bordello.

Critics Notebook
Personal Bias: I want to have Eastern European, gypsy babies with Eugene Hutz. I want to stroke his moustache at all times.
Random Detail: A DJ (who's name was never mentioned) spun between the two bands and ruled. He mostly played global music, but he definitely got me dancing (which was especially challenging because I was so mad about the freakish attendees and shitty opener).
By The Way: Hutz urged the audience to check out an organization called Voice of Roma.

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