Ah, what it must be like to be the “IT” band: The parties. The touring. The fawning press. For most, there are only two ways to go from there: up to superstardom or down in flames. Gogol Bordello are the type of band that could achieve both, simultaneously, with smiles on their faces and wine bottles in their hands.
Vocalist and Gogol brainchild, Eugene Hutz, will lead the way. Hutz embodies the celebratory nihilism of punk rock without having to cut himself off from the world in an apathetic stupor. Watching him and his band take over the White Stage on Saturday night is to watch a band living in the moment. “There were never any good old days,” he growls, “They are TODAY. They are tomorrow.”
Indeed. What will become of Hutz? What will happen to Gogol Bordello? Who cares? Pass the bottle. Rock guru, Robert Christgau once said that this is the band to see: do it now before they keel over. Now I know what he was talking about.
The maximum capacity crowd did, too. Less than four bars into the opener, “Not a Crime” and the front of the stage is a throbbing heap of sweaty flesh against flesh. Water bottles, hats and shoes are flying, and every mouth within a 200 meter radius is shouting the chorus with arms raised high. Gogol Bordello get compared to the Clash and the Pogues a lot, and while the Gypsy rhythms they employ (violin, accordion, acoustic guitar), differ from these two legendary bands, the spirit and energy of the execution could very well match them in intensity.
Fujirock prides itself on being an international festival, and GB might just be its best representatives this year. With members from Russia, the Ukraine, Ethiopia, Israel and just as many other mixed heritages, this 7-piece prove the universal power of punk rock. Perhaps in an indirect homage to Hutz’s homeland, the moshpit turned into large rings of fans locked arm-in-arm Wedding-style, their rotations getting wider and more unstable with each verse.
As if on cue, Hutz goes right into the song “American Wedding.” “Have you ever been to an American Wedding?” he screams perched on an amp, “Where is the Vodka? Where’s the marinated herring? Where is the band with the ultimate taste? Where is the supply that gonna last three days?” For Hutz and company, there is no such thing as a solemn affair.
Photos by Miyuki Samata
Reported by Jason Jenkins (2008.07.27 / 13:33)