Friday, June 20, 2008
Gypsy-Riffic! Review of Gogol Bordello!
Quick pic of the Gogol Bordello show at Toad's Place from last night above, now here's the review:
Ichiban is my friend, especially the double deuce ounce size. Polished it off at the sushi restaurant (the summer of sushi kick has begun) and walked down to Toad’s Place for the show. The line was formed and Pedals on Our Pirate Ship was punkin’ it up outside to entertain the line. A great local perky band, hitting the PBR tallboys between songs. I guess the audience could care less, unfortunately, as the line started moving. Toad’s has some charm even if it feels like it is run by out of towner “professionals”. If you have all your stuff in order, you get to go right through, the bartenders are fast and furious so you don’t even notice the price on a beer. It has good lighting, sound and layout, like a polished Flood Zone of sorts.
Bumped into some friends, P.J. had his camera geared up, and Lauren Vincelli who was to do the RVA Magazine review (and I was "competing" against to get the article, I guess) was still trying to land an interview with the headliner. To say she is an adorning fan is an understatement. She tells us how she has been trying and trying to get some Q&A with GGB but their PR person says that they only want “cover” interviews, meaning they want all the attention for whatever rag you got going or no deal. She tells them that RVA will give them all they can online, on the you tube, etc…I don’t think they were biting though. She next came up with the notion to interview the groupie of GGB who had been following them around. A great idea! Lauren is a dedicated fan and rocks!
Anyway, the opener was Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, a band label unity line-up going on with this show. They immediately got the Dexys Midnight Runners reference from me, dashed in with some Rick Wakeman circa “Journey to the Center of the Earth” keyboard wackiness. Despite their best efforts to keep to the odd rock-folk-soul groove thang going, big ape dudes with crooked hats and Eminem posturing started some sort of ghetto slamming. They were funny and noted by one of the guitarists who gave them a shout out: “This one goes to that guy right there that likes the funny mustaches.” I have no idea what that meant but weird mens room stall imagery came to mind. Shudder. So yeah, okay, the band still rocked it in their own way.
After they finished out their set, it was time to walk around some more, look at the smoking section on the second floor balcony and check out the upstairs. See some people, chat chat chat, back downstairs as the headliner approaches and DAMN this place got crowded!
My friend and I made our way as close as we could without probably getting sucked into a sweaty, B.O. ridden pit. We found a solid place between some other friends and two saucer-eyed blondes and then it happened. Pure Gypsy. Gogol Bordello unleashed it’s mighty gypsy punk sound like it was a rabid pit bull just told to “sic em”. The crowd popped up and down like it was on a boat capsizing and if you’ve ever felt the sound of pure pagan soul, this was it. They flopped around, spun around, rallied the crowd and just plain put on show.
It was a good solid show for nearly 2 hours. Frontman Eugene Hütz had a bottle of wine to glug on and sling around like it was the nectar of the gods when he wasn’t strumming the hell out of his acoustic guitar. The old dude on fiddle, Sergey Ryabtsev, held his own, popping the bow strings by the end of the night. The small dude dressed like Pele, Thomas "Tommy T" Gobena , cranked second percussion and rapped to the crowd with dictator style fervor. Then the two gypsy women came out, one on bass drum, the other flailing cymbals, and it was a call to sonic arms. Man, but did the place hop like a gypsy juke on amphetamines.
Then a bit of weirdness happened, Eugene: “Thank you very much Charlottesville!” What?!? Do you even know what town this is! Ha! Well, what should you expect from a guy who had been sucking on a bottle of red table wine for over an hour, I guess. All was forgiven PDQ as they tore out a 45 minute encore that left audience members euphoric and spent from pogo dancing. There was one moment when a group of sweat soakers plowed through us. A girl was passing out and her friends were trying to get her out of the melee. Unfortunately, her pals were worn out too and they could barely carry her off. They fell into a huddled mess, as slamming situations often dictate (the nature of the beast) and at first I thought the girl was getting ready to blow chunks. My friend James told it looked like she was rather punched in the mouth. Bet she had a good time!
Still, it wasn’t all slaps and exhaustion that night, tons of clapping, hollering and dancing in a circle till the finale, a 15 minute romper of a tune you’d think would never end nor want to brought the whole hopping thing to a close. Damn that was the stuff! Looking at my friend Fontaine's cell phone for the time, I had to get home and to bed, for in a few (very few) short hours I had to do the Breakfast Blend show on WRIR 97.3!! So what’s a good nights sleep lost for the show of the year?