As a rule, I’m a hardened cynic who looks askance at anything too overtly positive or ingratiating. Uplifting entertainment is essentially manipulative, naive and intellectually shallow, is it not? Anyone who wants to deliver me an uplifting message about hanging in there and being my best self or whatever needs to sneak in the back door reeking of alcohol and herrings. Ahem. Enter Hutz, et al. No group of people has ever smuggled so much positivity under the guise of promoting drunk debauchery than Gogol Bordello. It’s because they know a truth that the general US public has lost sight of or just doesn’t care to admit; a good debauch is a necessity if you want to live a happy healthy life. Debauchery brings people together, builds friendships, starts romances and heals old wounds. There’s nothing more wholesome and good for the soul than a communal alcoholic binge, otherwise known as a party. It’s what ties the ties that bind us.
“Revolution is internal, help yourself at any time”
If you haven’t heard, Gogol Bordello are releasing a new album. Obviously, they couldn’t be more relevant than at this moment, and I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. A lot of us right now are thinking to ourselves “I didn’t leave the fucking motherland to keep on dealing with this shit, I left it so I wouldn’t have to!” I didn’t come to America to be surrounded by mindless violent nationalism, that’s what people come to America to get away from. Unfortunately, America is basically that suspiciously hot girl on Tinder who turns out to have meth mouth and both kinds of hepatitis. So at a time when America’s international diaspora is collectively quaking with fear and rage, we really need an uplifting voice. We need to be reminded of how strong and brave and vital our immigrant communities always have been and always will be. Yes, we’re deeply disappointed right now; we thought we wouldn’t have to be dissidents anymore. But if there’s one thing Joe Make-America-Great-Again doesn’t understand, it’s that people don’t come to America because they think it’s going to be a fun daisy carnival; they come because they’re desperate to survive. Everyone who comes here does so because they’ve seen and lived through things so intolerable there’s nothing left to do but leave. In that regard, we’re way better equipped than any white-bread Americans are to deal with whatever spiteful baby-fascist bullshit comes next. It’s hard to bring people down who’ve already been down. We can be dissidents again. We can drink and party our way through whatever troubled times may come. We pass free thought around with the vodka bottle.
A taste of Gogol Bordello is a taste of the trans-global diaspora. Also, sweat. And the reek of spilled booze. Maybe a whiff of salted herring. To see them up close is to be sprayed with many fluids. The last time I saw them play Eugene Hutz split his pants and his dick flopped out. Not the most optimal time for a dick viewing, but I’ll take it. I used to really think the dude was mad sexy, but as he gets older he looks more and more like he could be my dad’s long disowned forgotten half brother or something, and that’s a little squeamish. I’d still hit it, though. (I guess people who don’t immigrate are forced to date within their own ethnic group; weird to think about!) Anyhow. A Gogol Bordello show is a celebration of displaced culture, gypsy music for people who may have been born gypsy and the many more became gypsy by circumstance. And if you can’t relate to the particulars of that, you can at least embrace their party ethos.
What’s not a crime? Who cares about specifics, it’s the thought that counts. Gogol Bordello is here to pump up the spirit and expedite the party, not to make sense. And they’ve maintained a steady enough career despite the fact that most of their enthusiastic fans don’t comprehend any of their reference points. Like their name. It’s good joke, trust me. You just have to be Ukrainian. The spirit of the party, though, that’s all inclusive. Just come to the show.
I miss seeing Gogol Bordello. They have not crossed my path in a few years. They also haven’t put out any new music in a few years, though that didn’t use to stop them touring constantly. The grueling schedule could not be maintained indefinitely, I suppose. Being the most forcefully dynamic live band in the world must take a lot of energy, and Eugene Hutz is not going to be in fighting shape forever. (Though I imagine we can look forward to seeing him as a wrecked and unrepentant old man, in time.) With that in mind, I repeat that Gogol Bordello are not to be missed for anything in the world. Their showmanship is without compare, and I’m not just saying that as someone who can relate to them more than the average festival attendee.
I miss seeing Gogol Bordello. I’ve seen them five times, but it’s not enough. It’s been a couple years since the last time, and they haven’t blown through town since. I know they’ve toured, because they always tour, and especially because they recently released a new album. Why they haven’t stopped in Austin I have no idea, but I feel slighted by the oversight. Besides all the other things I like about them – the multicultural influences, the look, the reference points, the feeling of insider coolness that comes from following such a hip band, the sense of having something to relate to, etc – I don’t know of any other act that creates such chaos. I feel pumped up just from watching their videos.
(Photo by Francesco Carrozzini)
I don’t know about you, but for me Gogol Bordello is instant cheer-up music. Maybe they haven’t given you as many good times? At the very least they’re good for a laugh. Being a rock star requires a whole lot of conviction and an immunity to looking absurd, even when you look completely absurd, and Eugene Hutz passes with flying colors. So it fills me with delight to know that Gogol Bordello’s next album is coming out in exactly one month. Like the one before, it should continue to display a growing level of maturity while still extolling everyone to PARTY as much as possible. I know Eugene is, inevitably growing up, but I can’t imagine he’s ever going to be less than our favorite crazy drunk Uncle Zhenya.