20 years. A lot can change within 20 years, but one thing that has stayed consistent is that Gogol Bordello has stayed together. The group recently set off on a tour in celebration of their 20 year anniversary as a band. The band hit up Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia for this tour and I immediately knew I had to attend. I’ve been waiting to see Gogol Bordello for a couple years now, as I’ve heard so many fabulous things about their live performance. None of what I heard would actually prepare me for the incredible experience that I was going to have, however. It was better than I could’ve imagined.
Opening up for the night was Nu Folk Rebel Alliance. The duo is made up of Pedro Erazo (Gogol Bordello’s percussion player), and his brother. The two musicians put on a fairly tame performance compared to Gogol Bordello, but still give the audience something to move around and jam to. The duo’s lyrical content covered a variety of topics and appeared to send out messages of truth, unity, love, and equality.
When it was time for Gogol Bordello to come on stage, a rush of excitement filled the crowd. The band opened up with “Break Into Your Higher Self” and immediately the crowd formed a dance pit in the middle of the floor. The pit stayed open the entire night as the band performed songs such as “My Companjera”, “Start Wearing Purple”, “Pala Tute”, and “Wonderlust King”. The band put on such a strong, energetic performance that it would “make your wig fly off” as the kids say these days – which actually isn’t a metaphor in this case, as someone in the crowd literally threw their wig into the air and the crowd proceeded to use it like a beach ball for the rest of the show. That’s not the only wild thing that you might see at a Gogol Bordello show, however. Let’s not forget that sitting on barricade means you are volunteering to be in the “Splash Zone”. Be wary of any type of liquid in the bottle front man Eugene Hütz might be holding, because his erratic and animated movements on stage will send it out of the bottle and all over the audience. It was honestly one of the most exciting and passionate performances I’ve seen.
Being involved in the crowd at a Gogol Bordello show is a whole experience itself as well. Throwing yourself into the dance pit that opens up will give you the biggest rush. Everyone at the show in the audience on the floor was dancing and having the best time. Clapping along in time to the gypsy punk-esque music, and grabbing the people around you to dance just adds to the craziness of the whole atmosphere. Another notable moment being in the crowd was towards the end of the show when Tobi brought out her bass drum, and Eugene stood on top of it on the crowd.
I really can’t recommend catching Gogol Bordello enough if they come to your area. It’s no surprise at all that this band has been around for so long, and I’m sure they won’t be going away any time soon!
Nicole DiBenedetto is a photographer based out of New Jersey. She likes making new friends and meeting new people so catch her out in the pit and say hi!