Gogol Bordello at Warehouse Live, 10/31/2014
Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Gogol Bordello Warehouse Live October 31, 2014
Gogol Bordello's Houston fans came to Warehouse Live for a Halloween show. The band made sure it turned into a Dia de Los Muertos celebration by playing a set that flipped the calendar and was anything but dead.
According to front man Eugene Hutz, it's been a year since the eclectic and energetic band played here and it's like some of you never left the foot of the stage. Warehouse Live's Ballroom was packed with rabid followers. Many were in disguise for Halloween, but their true selves were revealed when the band cranked up for "We Rise Again" at ten minutes after 10 p.m.
Fans who had waited a year to see the gypsy punks again were patient with the late start, occasionally chanting "Gogol! Gogol! Gogol!" to pass the time. That enthusiasm was rewarded with an opening run that showed the band wasn't playing around. "We Rise Again" and "Wonderlust King" sandwiched "Not a Crime," which had the whole room in motion.
"Not a Crime" is an especially great front-of-the-set song because it establishes the bond between Gogol Bordello and its devoted. The connection is something along these lines: we will sing and dance onstage, you will sing and dance out there in the audience. That Simon Says went on all night, to everyone's glee.
It was a little less evident on a song like "Dig Deep Enough," from the group's latest album, Pura Vida Conspiracy. The chorus, "We who seek long enough, dig deep enough, stay strong enough...find diamonds in the rough," demands a little more consideration than some of the band's chant-worthy catalog.
Hutz stripped off his jacket and was bare-chested by song five, "The Other Side of the Rainbow." That song was the set's extended jam, designed to show off a very capable band. It led into "My Companjera," which was probably the best-received song of the night, challenged by an urgent and frenetic "Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)" and "Start Wearing Purple," one of the songs that put Gogol on the musical map.
They rocked that bad boy, too, but that was a rock-stars' song, the one even the casual fans know. "My Companjera" came from a more informed place. It's the kind of song that the die-hard fans know all the words to and, by the time it's done in the live set, the new fans know enough of to sing at the tops of their lungs.
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The band performed for two hours in all, dropping in little-played songs like "Sally," "Alcohol," which featured only Hutz, his acoustic guitar and a spotlight, "Break the Spell," "My Gypsy Auto Pilot," "Trans-Continental Hustle," a version of "Pala Tute" that would have had us leg-kicking like Cossacks, had there been space.
But, there was just enough room for the band's fervent fans to jump in place, and we all jumped right from Halloween into the Day of the Dead. The irony, of course, is Gogol Bordello's music honors the life in us all.
Personal Bias: Punk rock fiddle and accordion, FTW, every time.
The Crowd: Pikachu. Bob Ross. Ron Burgundy. Anakin Skywalker. Edward Scissorhands. All Gogol Bordello fans.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Yes, yes...the mikes are okay!" -- impatient Gogol Bordello fan with uber-awesome Russian accent urging sound guys to scram so the show could start.
"I found you! People have been telling me to find you." -- punk-rock guy, not in costume, to Jesus Christ, presumably in costume.
Random Notebook Dump: Warehouse Live's Studio became selfie central when Hutz allowed fans at the afterparty to crowd right up next to him onstage, sans any beefy, overzealous security personnel. He was pumping out some funky world-music jams, but I could hardly dance for worrying about the guy. Then I recalled he's from New York City by way of Ukraine, where he once had to flee from the nuclear threat of Chernobyl. He probably wasn't intimidated by Wilfred the dog or a guy in a banana suit.
I know I've said a lot about your costumes, Houston, but y'all showed out, so I'm giving you props. Two of you blew my mind, though. You two guys who dressed like Scholastic Books' stripe-shirted dork Waldo -- did you meet each other? Imagine the philosophical implications of Waldo not only being found, but being found by his own alter-self who crawled through a time-space wormhole and will never again be found in the reality he left behind. Confused kids everywhere will search those books in vain and parents will demand refunds. Mind-boggling.
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