For all those who believe the accordion is an instrument that should remain absent from the genre of punk-rock, I present to you the case of Gogol Bordello. On May 31, the band, whose unique blend of middle-eastern, Russian, Ukrainian, and American influences give new meaning to the term ‘world music,’ delivered a show-stopping performance at the State Theatre, that elicited more chants of ‘Ole, Ole, Ole’ than a European football match (and thankfully less Vuvuzela solos).
Openers Mariachi El-Bronx kicked things off for the night with a set of, you guessed it, mariachi music, with a dash of rock and roll to keep the crowd energized throughout the set. While many of the songs never really veered too far off course from the ‘mariachi’ genre, the band delivered an entertaining set that kept things moving and served to prime the crowd for the raucousness of what was to come.
And when Eugene Hutz and Co. hit the stage, all hell broke loose. This was one of those shows where you actually felt somewhat bad for the security guards having to work the rail, as countless bodies continued to fly towards the stage with seemingly no end in sight, and mosh pits arose throughout the crowd like fungal blooms in the Amazon. Who knew an accordion solo could whip thousands of people into a near frenzy? Not me, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t caught up in some kind of bizarre half-jig-half-mosh-pit during the whole ordeal.
Unconventional instrumentation aside, this band is no gimmick, and if there was one thing that was evident during Gogol Bordello’s performance at the State Theatre, it’s that this band doesn’t just write songs, they write bona fide anthems.
From the first note to the last, this crowd was having the time of their lives, and the band was more than happy to reciprocate in kind. Propelled by the seemingly non-stop energy and charisma of front-man Eugene Hutz, the band tore through more than an hour and a half of material, before finishing the set with a blistering version of “Start Wearing Purple” that had everyone singing, stomping, clapping, and doing just about every other human function known to man in unison.
But the show wasn’t over yet. After what appeared to be a standard encore break, the band returned to the stage, and proceeded to play for another 20 minutes. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. This show was everything a Gogol Bordello fan could have asked for, and watching the crowd’s reaction throughout the night was truly something to behold.
It’s time I learned how to play accordion.