Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gogol Bordello With Bombino At The Pabst Theater | A Bit Of World and Gypsy Punk Music At Its Finest

Gogol Bordello Pabst
What can I say about Gogol Bordello that hasn't already been said. Are they a Gypsy, punk, reggae-dub band? Yes, the band is a mix of all three. One thing that they certainly convey is pure musical energy. Just when you think that you have the band pegged, they riff in a direction that you just didn't expect. Last Saturday was my first time seeing the band, and I was not disappointed. I can appreciate them on so many levels. Let me take the next few paragraphs to describe that in better detail.

It's fitting that the band formed on the East Coast.  I'm certain that it helped. With NYC hosting a large Ukrainian and Russian population, it's not hard to fathom that there were plenty of musicians to choose from. If you watch an early Gogol Bordello documentary, you can see that the band was first made up of Russians and other so called "immigrants" who played a rough version of Gypsy pop/punk with Ukrainian twists. As the years have passed, it seems that the sound has become more polished, but still has a driving edge that maintains the punk and Gypsy origins.

I can also appreciate the fact that the band has members from many parts of the world.  Starting with Elizabeth Sun, who is of Chinese descent, but raised in Scotland.  Sun sings, dances, and plays the bass drum. Sergey Ryabtsev is a key member of the band, providing violin and vocals.  He's quite the Russian performer. Add performers from Ethiopia, The United States, and Ecuador, and you have a true melting pot of musicians.

Last but not least, these musicians are truly talented.  They dance and sing at the same time. That can't be said for modern pop stars who just dance to a prerecorded vocal track. Does that mean the vocals are a bit sloppy at times? Yes, it does.  Does that matter to the fans? Not at all.  When you watch them perform, it's like the wheels are just a few mistakes away from coming off, but the group has been through that so many times before.  The wheels managed to stay on at the Pabst last weekend.

If I was to say anything about the founding member Eugine Hutz, I would say that he seems like a man who's always looking to the horizon, while standing right in front of you. He has a pure energy about himself. It comes across in the way that he performs on stage. He might riff off the members playing right next to him, but it surely seems that he's in his own world. If I learned anything from reading about Hutz, it's that he's turned his travels into an opportunity to bring odd music to the masses. Some folks might not understand or appreciate those odd sounds. He once said in an interview that Americans tend to have an "imaginary barrier" to being open minded about all forms of music.  If Gogol Bordello continues to perform here, that barrier will be broken down.

Bombino opened the show.  Bombino is well known in his country, and his world music album has touched the hearts of many. The volume for Bombino's show was too low.  He has a way with the guitar, but next time they have to turn up the volume!