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Last Night

I Love You But I've Chosen Authenticity: Gogol Bordello Live at the Mayan

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 11:21 AM

click to enlarge SCOTT STERLING
  • Scott Sterling

View more photos in the "Gogol Bordello @ The Mayan" slideshow.

Gogol Bordello is beyond cool.

A survey of their jam-packed show at the appropriately ornate Mayan in Downtown L.A. last night revealed an impossibly diverse crowd generally reserved for bands that have made that precarious jump from clubs and college radio to big theaters and spins on powerhouse FM stations like KROQ.

Witnessing everyone from giddy high school kids drunk on the freedom of summer vacation to cool dads getting open on a Monday night (the summer solstice, no less), it was clear that Gogol's appeal transcends flavor-of-the-month trends and blog-generated hype.

Their organic and raucous "gypsy punk" (all apologies to anyone offended by the "G" word -- we use it lightly) pulses with a genuine, life-affirming energy that's incredibly infectious. In concert, it inspires a feel-good bacchanal akin to an entire rock concert crashing the best wedding you've ever attended.

Taking the stage promptly at the posted set time of 9:45, Gogol (fronted by singer Eugene Hutz, all flailing limbs and signature handlebar mustache) proceeded to roar through a nearly two-hour set of accordion-powered party jams and pumped-up versions of traditional songs from what grandma fondly calls "The Old Country."

But no matter how high the energy or fast the tempo, the capacity crowd screamed for more. To say that everybody was dancing would be an understatement. From the roiling pogo-happy pit that was the main floor to any available space around the bar, the Mayan was transformed into a happy, sweaty display of the most unabashed dancing-like-no-one's-looking imaginable

click to enlarge SCOTT STERLING
  • Scott Sterling
Gogol is touring in support of their recent major label debut, Trans-Continental Hustle, released on Rick Rubin's American Recordings imprint. Rubin, who also produced the album, was inspired to sign the band after Tom Morello took him to some of their shows, (Gogol opened for RATM at that band's free show in London's Finsbury Park on June 6), but it doesn't take the nudging of a music vet to see why he'd want them.

The band's music speaks to something much deeper than just "taste" -- something innate. Their timeless melodies and celebratory rhythms are not too far from the sounds I heard coming from neighboring homes on Saturday mornings when I lived in the defiantly Polish city of Hamtramck, Michigan. But it's not just a European thing -- there were plenty of Hispanic kids jumping into the fray, which was spurred on by politically charged messages of self-sufficiency.

In a time when it's easy to believe that the emerging generation of music fans are just slaves to tyrannical blogs and the next "cool" thing, there many more responding to authenticity. As long as there are places where you can sing for your supper, Gogol Bordello will never, ever, go hungry.

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