“Where is vodka/where is marinated herring?”
An anthem from my favorite live band! Yes Eugene, I hate American weddings too!
Gogol Bordello is a unique entity in the music world. For one thing they are one of a handful of artists, including M.I.A., who make music that reflects a modern diaspora. They are the only band I know of who speak from a Russian/Ukrainian/Eastern Eurapean diaspora. Their music is different from world music or folk music. The music of artists like Cesaria Evora or Bebel Gilberto or Ali Farka Toure, no matter how popular or bestselling still remain in their own ‘ghetto’, classified strictly as ‘ethnic music’, meant to represent ‘exotic’ cultures and have a transportive effect. The diasporic music of Gogol Bordello is outside convention. It incorporates traditional themes, cultural references, and instruments, but it is modern, polyglot, young and multicultural. It is music by, and about and for immigrants, children of immigrants, young people who bridge multiple cultures. It is a new genre – Punk Folk. (Not so new, really, remember The Poques invented Punk Folk back in the 70s).
Although technically, Eugene Hutz is Ukrainian/American, I’m going to refer to him as a Russian, because to differentiate between Russianness and Ukrainianness is to draw a line that isn’t there. The two cultures are so close, with such a long history together that to find differences is to nitpick. That said…Hutz is the first and at this point only figure in popular culture who speaks from a uniqely Russian perspective. Only a Russian would think to write a love song to his good friend alcohol. Only a Russian would take pride in being a disgusting, dirty drunk – ‘a dirty, old and useless clown’. It takes a Russian audience to even begin to fully appreciate his music. Even the name Gogol Bordello is joke that mainstream listeners don’t get (probably not meant to get). Half the lyrics are in Russian, and there are many references that are aimed not just at Russians, but at very specific Russians – it is true that most Russians would not get the Zvuki Mu reference, and it proves once and for all that Eugene is one of us. For us, by us.
Video:Bonnaroo 2008. You can’t see me, but i’m out there.