Gogol Bordello @ Commodore Ballroom – November 21st 2015

Gogol Bordello @ Commodore Ballroom © Erik Iversen
Gogol Bordello @ Commodore Ballroom © Erik Iversen

Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hutz. Photo: Erik Iversen.

Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello dazed Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom with a obscenely energetic set.  Based out of New York, Gogo Bordello have cultivated a devoted following of musical fans through their zealous approach to musical performance, incorporating the energy of eastern european polka and North American punk rock ideology. As the band was preparing to start the show , frontman Eugene Hütz  energetically bounded onstage like a race horse breaking out of a starting gate. Bouncing up and down, the lead singer exuded energy and led the band through an explosive entrance and brazen musical performance.

Gogol Bordello @ Commodore Ballroom © Erik Iversen

Pasha Newmer. Photo:  Erik Iversen.

With a sizeable, dynamic group of musicians, the music of Gogol Bordello includes lively accordion, gyspy style’d violin and auxiliary percussions. Each song included a bombastic entrance, including the introduction of a pair of enthusiastic female dancers who occasionally took turns dramatically screeching into Hütz‘s  microphone. The pair of frenzied female dancers would augment the night’s performance with horns, marching drums and hyper-active energy.  The show would include plenty of strange costumes and even a quickly improvised sling-shot that launched a flower bouquet into the audience .

Though Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hütz practices a powerful, playful frontman aesthetic well worth mentioning, the concert is undeniably a full-band affair. The band is a varied lot consisting of violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, accordion player Pasha Newmer, guitarist Boris Pelekh  and auxiliary drummer and vocalist Elizabeth Sun. Caribbean style drums allude to the 80’s era of world-music but their supplemental rhythms were routinely overpowered by the take-no-prisoners style of polka-inspired punk. There were plenty of alcohol infused group vocals and succinct guitar solos but the violin and accordion resonated most memorably.

Gogol Bordello @ Commodore Ballroom © Erik Iversen

Eugene Hutz. Photo: Erik Iversen.

Songs often began slow with only Eugene Hütz  sarcastic lyrics, rambunctious voice andlone acoustic song such as on “Start Wearing Purple” but the songs quickly built up into expansive full band affairs. At a Gogol Bordello show, song introductions quickly morph into over-arching, blazing choruses and every song is playfully attacked with sweat-dripping enthusiasm. Songs don’t run too long either, winding down before any of the rhythms or themes grow redundant; also they sometimes have hilarious names like “Think Globally, Fuck Locally.” Dripping with Eastern-European musical scales, Gogol Bordello’s music promotes western notions of counter-culture with the foot-stomping, fun-loving spirit of drunken polka party.

The evening’s music performed a fitting tribute to legendary Commodore Ballroom; the venue’s famous sprung dance floor was taken out during the venue’s late 1990’s renovations, Gogo Bordello had the place moving, just like old times. Standing on the wobbling hardwood dance-floor, one could not help but dance the gypsy punks’ playful racket. The building literally shook; it was a stompin’ good time.


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