Gig/Concert: Gogol Bordello w/ Devotchka and Jesse Malin
Venue: Sound Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: 20 April 2010
In One Word: Hyperactive
Arriving at the Sound Academy to see a quarter-mile long queue of eager punters waiting to get in, boy was I grateful to be able to skip the line but at the same time disappointed to have missed the gig openers Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social. For any Jesse Malin fans reading this in the hope of some words and pics, the best I can offer is a link to an interview that I did with the former D Generation vocalist three years ago, (back when I had blue hair!).
Before everyone’s favourite gypsy punks Gogol Bordello came on, Devotchka, a similairly styled four-piece from Denver, Colarado took to the stage for what turned out to be the ideal warm-up. With frontman Nick Urata rocking some weird guitars and a classic crooner mic, he became the architect for inspiring plenty of pogo action among the crowd as the audience got their calf muscles nicely stretched. Backed by a girl on sousaphone, a very talented violinist and a drummer and occasional trumpeter, Devotchka gave a rousing performance and with some really interesting segments. A great set, though the real highlight and lasting memory for me was came midway through the set when two girls in skimpy burlesque-style attire ascended curtains on the stage and began hanging and performing above the band, hanging upside down and bending into all kinds of wonderful shapes – they were so flexible! Hot damn!
Devotcha departed with a stomping send-off, and it didn’t take long before the shouts of “Gogol, Gogol!” began. Had I not been in full control of my senses, I could’ve easily mistaken this for a football crowd back in Europe, and the level of raucous enthusiasm might well have been on a par with the kind of atmosphere found in the San Siro in Milan earlier in Europe that day for the Champions League semi between Inter and Barca. Adding to the Eurotrash vibe of everything was the abundance of alt/crap (depending on your verdict) haircuts and facial hair on display, with many sporting a ‘tache as fine as that worn above the lips of their hero Eugene Hütz, Gogol Bordello’s frontman and the ringmaster for this evening’s antics.
The evening’s comedy moment was provided by the skipping intro music from a scratched CD that played before Gogol Bordello took to the stage – they might wanna get a new CD for their next show. Laughter soon turned to whooping support as the NYC based band took their opening bows and quickly raised pulses and smiles throughout the Sound Academy. To describe Gogol Bordello as ‘energetic’ would be an understatement of criminal proportions; they are positively hyperactive and were unrelenting and untiring in the level of performance delivered tonight. Everything was well received, predictably the best known songs like “Start Wearing Purple” got the best receptions, while other picks of the set included new single “Pala Tute” and “Break The Spell”.
Gogol Bordello returned to the stage for an encore that must’ve been a good 20 minutes long and included “Alcohol”, perhaps the best received song of the whole night. This was no run of the mill token encore… in fact it was probably the wildest and craziest encore I’ve ever seen. One thought came to me – just how the hell exactly do Gogol Bordello rehearse? Sure, you can learn songs and practice, but in the confines of a jam space you would never be able recreate the shear exuberance that Gogol Bordello display in concert. As they stormed around the stage, going to the very edge more than just literally, the band members were not just throwing empty gestures to the crowd but fully willing and encouraging their audience to be a part of one unified jumping, sweating, smiling and dancing collective. Gogol Bordello and their fans became united in what was one big party – and speaking of parties, I applaud anyone who had enough stamina after this gig to attend the afterparty with Hütz at Blue Moon.
© Brian Banks, Music Vice
Pictures of Gogol Bordello and Devotchka at Sound Academy: