Last Night: Gogol Bordello At House Of Blues
Check out our pics of the Gypsy punks.
Maybe a Jolly Roger would have helped.
Tuesday night at House of Blues, Gogol Bordello had the captain's wheel, center stage. They had the ocean, in the form of the seething pit of humanity down front. The set had exotic ports of call to spare - Spain, the Middle East and especially the Caribbean.
But they were missing something important, something odd given the group's catholic backgrounds, outsider ideology and "gypsy punk" paintbrush Eugene Hutz and his motley crew apply so enthusiastically to their music. But that's what made its absence so conspicuous.
The missing element? Variety.
Don't get Aftermath wrong; Gogol Bordello put on a good show. The entire eight-piece group barely stopped moving for a second, and Hutz and violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, especially, seemed determined to keep stoking the crowd's ravenous energy until it killed them - which, if they kept it up much longer than the 90 minutes and change Gogol was onstage (with a couple of breathers), it may well have.
But until "Last One Goes the Hope," the seventh song of the set, Tuesday's show felt like the same thing over and over again. A flamenco guitar flourish here, a dub bass line screwing the whole thing to the floor there, some incendiary Spanish toasting from MC Pedro Erazo on opener "Tribal Connection," but you could set your watch by the rest: Folk melodies from Ryabtsev's thrusting violin, Hutz doing his manic call-and-response thing with the crowd and the rhythm section supplying the punk part of the equation.
Repeat. And repeat again. And again. With so much energy in the room, it was hard to believe anyone could feel bored, but after about the fourth or fifth time, we were. Or at least like, "What else you guys got?"
This formula obviously works for Gogol, but it's still a formula. As Aftermath told a friend, they feel like a one-trick pony, although it is a pretty good trick. Even now it feels a little churlish to criticize Gogol for it, like finding fault with a wedding band for having too much fun onstage. Unfortunately, Aftermath wasn't there to dance.