In some regards, a Gogol Bordello show is kind of like sex: It's a sweaty and exhausting experience, one that you can't really fully comprehend until you're balls-deep in it. Sure, you can sneak peeks at your dad's Playboy, get tips from your older brother or watch Internet porn, but you don't really know what the hell sex is all about, until, well, you just get in and start making noises like your boots are stuck in mud.
It's kind of the same thing with Gogol Bordello. You can listen to the band's albums, watch videos, see photos or read about the gypsy punks, but none of it can really compare to the act's highly charged, vigorous shows. But don't expect a whole lot of foreplay with these guys (and gal): Once they mount, you're in for one hell of rambunctious romp, which was the case Wednesday night, the first of a two-night stand at the Boulder Theater.
For nearly two hours, the wiry, whirring ball of energy known as Eugene Hutz, the outfit's frontman, and his bandmates relentlessly blasted through song after song, hardly ever slowing down. Meanwhile, the packed crowd at the Boulder Theater ate up everything the band tossed at them. With nearly every tune -- from the show's opener, the gypsy reggae of "Tribal Connection," all the way through "Alcohol," the last encore -- Gogol Bordello stirred up a frenzied mosh pit near the front of the stage with fists pumping, bodies bouncing and sweat flying around.
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The band dug into a good deal of material from their latest effort, the Rick Rubin-produced Trans-Continental Hustler, and the gypsy ska of "My Companjera," the fast punk of "Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)" and "Pala Tute" were especially powerful, as were "Wonderlust King" and "American Wedding," from 2007's Super Taranta!. Just when it seemed that things really couldn't get any better, the band closed its main set with "Start Wearing Purple," which got even the people in the back bobbing and raising their fists.
After a four-song encore, a lot of folks wearing T-shirts drenched in sweat filed out of the theater into the night. And while I don't smoke, I most certainly felt like I needed a cigarette after that exhilarating romp.
Click through for Critic's Notebook and Setlist.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I can't recall any band over the past few years whipping a crowd into such a frenzy. See for yourself when the band plays again tonight at the Boulder Theater. Random Detail:I could have sworn that Hutz said the band's drummer was from Boulder. By the Way: Forro in the Dark, a group of New York-based Brazilian expatriates, was an ideal choice for the opener, as the act laid down some infectious dance grooves based on Brazilian rhythms.
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Gogol Bordello 10.27.10 | Boulder Theater Boulder, CO
01. Intro 02. Tribal Connection 03. Not a Crime 04. Wonderlust King 05. My Companjera 06. Last One Goes the Hope 07. Trans-Continental Hustle 08. Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher) 09. Break the Spell 10. Raise the Knowledge 11. American Wedding 12. Endless Boogie 13. Pala Tute 14. Start Wearing Purple
15. When Universes Collide 16. Sun is on My Side 17. Sacred Darling 18. Alcohol