You loved it the first time, and you’ll love it again!
Gogol Bordello @ The House of Blues
December 17, 2006
What can I say that hasn’t been already said about what might possibly be (at the moment), the best live band on earth? I go to a lot of shows… A LOT! But, nothing has grabbed me by the throat the way Gogol Bordello has, and it’s one of the experiences that one has to endure in order to experience… if you’re reading this review, you should stop and check gogolbordello.com to see if they are coming anywhere near you (which they probably will eventually, since they seem to tour non-stop).
They are one of those bands that should be followed around (well… they are gypsies, they probably wouldn’t mind a caravan tagging along behind them full of fans) on tour. Why do I say this… well, dumb ass potheads have been following around the likes of the Grateful Dead and Phish because they don’t want to hold a day job… but the difference between Gogol Bordello and the latter…? Gogol Bordello are actually fun and exciting. Sure you can get boozed up beyond repair, and ladies… you are probably more than welcome for a free Moustache Ride from Eugene… but, that certainly beats sitting around with a bunch of fucking burn-outs who stink like B.O and patchouli, whilst listening the most lazy and boring shit ever made. Gogol Bordello are a traveling carnivale, and their music is the big top, and if I didn’t have any responsibilities, maybe I would follow them around, because they are the epitome of fun!
Well their party bus pulled into Cleveland, and stopped at the House of Blues. The place was packed with all walks of life (and all ages too). Lots of drunk fans who came for a good time (although drunk people at a concert in Cleveland is nothing new) and as sweaty and crowded as the place was, there was a very happy vibe amongst the Cleveland audience (which is typically grumpy and rude… and many hate the House of Blues for it’s corporate stance… but I look at it this way… we are at least getting higher profile bands that have too much at stake to play some hole in the wall in a seedy part of town… so when a band comes to Cleveland and plays the downtown area… they are probably more bound to come here again since they aren’t being dragged through the ‘hood!’) I am one of the few in Cleveland that actually likes seeing a show at the House of Blues because the sound is always good, and they treat the press and bands with respect. Sure the drinks and tickets cost more, but at least they have the funds behind them to promote a show sufficiently, and the sound equipment isn’t totally shot to hell… oh, and maybe the bands actually have a nice place to hang out at instead of the shitter that hasn’t been cleaned or repaired since the 70’s! Why would any band want to play in a dump? However, a band like Gogol Bordello probably doesn’t care either way… as long as they have a place to do their thing, I’m sure they’re happy with… but they’ve gotten a higher profile in the past year that they are more sought after. With Eugene being on the big screen in “Everything is Illuminated” and being on heavy rotation on MTV-U, their 50,000+ fans on MySpace, as well as being on the Warped Tour… of course the stars are aligning for them!
Even with their larger fan base and higher profile… it has not affected their larger than life performances. They are still one of the highest energy bands around, and they aren’t a gimmick. The members are true musicians, and well-learned. Between Yury and Sergey, they are virtuosos! Who would’ve ever thought that the gypsy fiddle and an accordion would appeal to such a masse in the United States? Sure this is the melting pot, but look at the mainstream, there’s nothing like Gogol Bordello, and I don’t think there ever will be, but yet this band sells out a venue no problem. Word of mouth has done wonders for them, obviously.
The show itself I spent in the press pit, clicking hundreds of photos, and I remember it more through the lens, but I still got Eugene’s sweat all over me (which is one of my favorite parts of the whole night). The photos are more telling that words and the video clip is a nice summary of what to expect.