Gogol

Gogol Bordello puts on a raucous worldwide show

Gogol Bordello frontman and founding member Eugene Hütz singing to the Bourbon Theatre crowd.
Gogol Bordello frontman and founding member Eugene Hütz singing to the Bourbon Theatre crowd.

Gogol Bordello, a globalist group consisting of members from six different countries and one U.S. territory, put on one of the most memorable shows of the year on Oct. 28 at the Bourbon Theatre. Glow sticks and balloons soared above the packed crowd before and during the set. Lead singer Eugene Hütz may be the sole original member of the band, but their changing lineup has allowed for myriad cultural sounds to work their way into Gogol’s brand of “Ukrainian Gypsy punk.”

As the ringleader, Hütz brought the bacchanalia with a bottle of wine that ended up more on the floor than in his mouth, and pulled out a few books to “read” from during their more-relaxed songs. The whole band was dressed like a circus sideshow with some members wearing nice suit jackets and hats while others wore gaudy colors and gem-encrusted shoes.

Sergey Ryabstev, the 60-year-old violinist, jumped around in his red velvet suit jacket. Boris Pelekh, a Moscow native and U.S. resident since 1991, stood in the back of the stage, providing chords for other members to play over. When he had solos, Pelekh jumped to the forefront and demanded the crowd’s attention with Angus Young-esque stage antics.

Pasha Newmer, the Belarusian accordion player who shredded his solos, looked like he could bash in your skull with his accordion if it wasn’t so expensive. Ethiopia native Thomas Gobena pounded away on his five-string bass, keeping the groove steady and hopping up on a front-stage platform when he and Pelekh had string features. Pedro Erazo, the band’s auxiliary percussionist and occasional co-lead vocalist, added all those little drum pops, dings and various other percussive sounds that spiced up their style, providing European and Latin influences.

Percussionist Pedro Erazo coming out to the front of the stage. Next to him is violinist Sergey  Ryabstev.
Percussionist Pedro Erazo coming out to the front of the stage. Next to him is violinist Sergey
Ryabstev.

Backup singer Ashley Tobias from Puerto Rico belted out some soaring vocals and high notes to augment Hütz’s rougher voice. Tobias also played on a big bass drum with Gogol Bordello’s “Gypsy punks” logo during their last songs. Members of opening brass band Lucky Chops came out to supply a horn line to a few Gogol songs. Daro Behroozi of Lucky Chops battled Ryabstev to open up a tune here and there.

Every song was like an unstoppable force, even the slower tunes. There was never a moment where Gogol Bordello wasn’t demanding full attention and participation. Towards the end of the set in between songs, Erazo spoke of how the world is in a “trying time” and people must stick together to fight adversity with love and tolerance.  Near the end of the show, while playing their hit “Undestructable,” Tobias passed her bass drum to the audience while Hütz crowd-surfed his way through the powerful last lines of the song before returning to the stage.

The band closed out their set with their biggest hits, “Start Wearing Purple” and “Wanderlust King.” After leaving the stage, the Bourbon set crew ruined the surprise of an encore by replacing the leader’s guitar on its stand. The encore was still phenomenal. To celebrate their first time performing in Lincoln, Gogol Bordello played some unreleased songs.

Opening the show wasLucky Chops, the aforementioned brass band from the subways of New York City. Lucky Chops, composed of a trombone, sousaphone, trumpet, tenor sax and drum set were unstoppable in their sound. Each member had a mic attached to their horn, allowing them to augment their fierce and funky sound with dance moves, jumps and headbanging. Even more surprising is the fact that only two of the five Lucky Chops members have any musical training beyond high school, according to an interview with Seeds Entertainment prior to the show.

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