Photos by Jon Prins
The Scene: A healthy mix of Mohawk sporting youth and well dressed late 20 somethings made up a bulk of the crowd at the Ogden Theatre this past Thursday night when Gogol Bordello stopped into town. A short line stretched from the box office window but it moved rather quickly thanks to the Ogden employee that decided to walk up and down the sidewalk with an officer of the law and sell tickets to people with cash. I had never seen them do that before, but it definitely made for a speedy entrance into the theater.
Gogol Bordello: The band kicked off the show by warming up the crowd for a few minutes without frontman Eugene Hutz on stage. Just as the energy was cranking up a bit, Eugene came barreling on stage with so much energy you could feel the atmosphere in the room instantly change. Since I had arrived late, as always, it proved to be a bit difficult to find a vantage point with a proper view in the packed room. I settled near the back where I was hoping a spot would clear so a dance floor could emerge.
Eugene wasted no time and ended up completely shirtless by the 3rd or 4th song as he flailed around stage like a mad man. The stage hand was hard at work from the very beginning. Picking up mic stands that had been flung to the ground and bringing out new guitars as the strings on Eugene’s snapped from his strumming. Somewhere around the song “Wanderlust King” Eugene asked the crowd for a good old fashioned punk rock circle pit. This sparked my interest and I decided to leave my spot near the back and muscle my way towards the front of the crowd. Although an honest circle pit never quite formed due to the number of folks crammed up against the stage, it was a mosh pit none the less. “Immigrant Punk” had everyone slamming into each other in as much drunken unison as they could muster.
The members of Gogol Bordello hail from different parts of the globe and this is blatantly apparent through the unique sound they are able to create. With South American rhythms mixed with Eastern European flavor from the accordion, they are able to take the listeners all over the world in a matter of minutes. All of them on stage dancing and having the time of their lives definitely attributed to the massive dance party that took place throughout the Ogden.
By the time they played “Start Wearing Purple” I found myself once again near the back trying to catch my breath and drink a cold beverage before someone spilled it all over me. The first set stretched a little over an hour and the entire place was going off. It was interesting to see a pit of slam dancers then 10 feet away from them a group of folks bouncing up and down with linked arms. The sound of Gogol Bordello has the ability to appeal to so many walks of life. Age groups ranged from teenage to grey haired and everyone seemed to be having an absolute blast.
They slowly left the stage, but no one left the theater. A kid next to me almost lost a bet by trying to tell me there would be no encore. I had to laugh and told him to just hang tight. Within minutes of them leaving the stage everyone in the first two tiers by the stage began stomping their feet to the same rhythm. Before too long Eugene appeared once again with his guitar and began playing an acoustic number. One by one each member of the band returned to the stage until they were back to full force. The encore could almost be considered a set in and of itself as it clocked in at nearly 45 minutes.
Simply put, Gogol Bordello nearly blew the roof off of the Ogden on Thursday. The crowd screamed along in unison and danced relentlessly from the first note of the show until the very end. By the time it was all said and done, both the band and the crowd were drenched in sweat, and some were drenched in beer. Their performance is a massive spectacle, a perfect mix of circus, theater, and raw, honest punk rock music. I guess you can consider it worldly-folk music, as it has a little bit of something for everyone.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: C+