Gypsy punks unite as Gogol Bordello and Devotchka hit HOB

A review of Gogol Bordello and Devotchka at the House of Blues on April 28, 2010

, Staff Writer

Gypsy punks unite! The cry rose loud and hard from a sold-out crowd on Landsdowne Street as a banner emblazoned with Gogol Bordello’s trademark slingshot insignia was unfurled on the House of Blues stage. The lights began to dim, Gypsy folk music floated over the loudspeakers, and the members of Gogol Bordello began to populate the stage, their energy pouring from the stage before a drum was struck or string plucked. The buzz was there, and Gogol Bordello was ready to rock.

Finally Eugene Hütz sauntered onstage, his battered guitar slung over around his shoulders, one hand fiddling with his handlebar mustache, the other clutching a bottle red wine. He took a long drink, shook out his arms, and unleashed a whirling dervish of punkish folk music that never once slowed down or relented for anyone.

Hütz is as charismatic a frontman as they come. Bouncing across the stage, his lanky frame dancing with anyone who would get close to him, he characterizes the mission of Gogol Bordello, which, according to the band’s website, is to “confront the irony-diseased and jaded [looking at you, hipster]…with acts of music, theater, chaos, and sorcery.”

Chaos was apparent in the crowd, which never stopped bouncing, dancing, spinning, swinging, and jumping as Gogol busted through old favorites like “American Wedding”, “Start Wearing Purple”, and “Not A Crime.” Sorcery and theater were one and the same when MC Pedro Erazo took center stage to rap frantically and whip everything into an even greater frenzy. Gogol Bordello are known for their intense performances, but this was just bonkers. I’ve never seen so many people keep moving for so long. I’m not exactly a lightweight when it comes to rocking out at shows, and my legs were jelly the next day.

Violinist Sergey Ryabtsev clowned on his instrument, ripping it up and adding a brilliant touch, both musically and theatrically, to the show. “Tribal Connection” was a hearty singalong, and tunes from the brand-spanking new Trans-Continental Hustle like “Pala Tute” and “My Companjera” were epic. The highlights of the night had to be the old favorite “Avenue B” from the band’s first EP East Infection ,and a subdued encore of “Alcohol” from Super Taranta!

Devotchka was the perfect co-headliner for the night. Their funky mix of indie rock and burlesque folk, coupled with the acrobats swinging from silk ropes high above the stage, made for a show that not only warmed up the mostly Gogol-centric crowd, but managed to stay totally unique without being weird for weird’s sake. Jeanie Schroder stole the show on double bass and Sousaphone, switching off seamlessly and displaying some impressive chops on both instruments. The set featured a lot of material from their soundtrack to Little Miss Sunshine, much to the pleasure of everyone in the audience.

Each band is a unique force in music today. There’s really nothing like it. I loved Devotchka’s performance on its own, and almost feel bad for saying that they weren’t as good as Gogol Bordello, who proved themselves to be the true monarchs of Gypsy Punk.

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