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Gypsy-influenced folk arrangements
drenched in punk

Gogol Bordello
Turner Hall
Milwaukee, WI
June 11, 2008
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Story and Photos by Matt Schwenke

Well known for their raucous live performances while touring in support of their fourth album Super Taranta!, Gogol Bordello sold out the Turner Hall Ballroom. But, could the eclectic mix of gypsy-influenced folk arrangements drenched in punk satisfy the crowd until the end of their non-stop-energy performance?

The full steam ahead approach of their new tune "Ultimate" opened the set and set the tone for the entire evening with accordion and rock guitar melding into a brash punk delivery. Lead singer Eugene Hutz was a constantly moving bundle of energy with a voice and stage persona fitting quite oddly between the slightly more affable side of Borat and the sexual innuendo side of Frank Zappa. "Wanderlust King" put the latter on full display as Hutz proudly hinted of his transcontinental sexual exploits over fiddle-driven punk. Openly admitting to the simple nature of a number of their tunes,"American Wedding" was a goofy display with an adept commentary on the staleness of many a traditional American wedding hidden underneath.

But for as much of a heterogeneous mix of ethnicity and folk, reggae and punk sounds as Gogol Bordello are-- even with the added help of two singers/dancers/general performers and the fiery vocal attack of Ecuadorian MC Pedro Erazo-- the performance was exciting on a superficial level but failed to cut deep and offer any real feeling of soul. But then again, the punk cabaret feeling of "Start Wearing Purple" isn't about deep contemplation but rather a Dionysian call for living in the moment. And, as the majority of the crowd still obligingly bounced about the room deep into the set, the band proved that at the very least, their live show creates a giant, joyous party atmosphere, no matter how fleeting the feeling.
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