You can possibly chalk this up to my training as a reader and a writer, but I’m the type of person who focuses on the lyrics of the music I listen to. So what was I to do with Gogol Bordello, a band whose lyrics approach inscrutability* and whom I saw in person on the first of January, 2011?
*Seriously; here’s a segment from “Start Wearing Purple,” one of the group’s most popular songs:
So yeah, I know it all from Diogenes to the Foucault
from Lozgechkin to Passepartout
I ja kljanus obossav dva paltza – chto ty!
shto muzyka poshla ot “zvukov moo.”
I have no idea who three out of those four people are nor do I know the meaning and language of the last two lines.
Our fearless editor has already discussed (click on the Old Archives link on the top of this page and do a spot-search for Gogol Bordello) the general hilarity of the world’s leading gypsy-punk-rock band, but there’s something special about seeing this multinational collective–with seven countries represented on stage–perform live. Two special things in fact. Let’s discuss them one-by-one, in convenient list form:
- Despite the incomprehensible lyrics, Gogol Bordello’s songs are remarkably easy and fun to sing along to. Most of their songs contain some sort of refrain, whether it’s the title or a simple “Hey, hey.” These refrains show up quite often; “Immigraniada” is basically all refrain. These repetitions make for fun and hummable songs, especially when surrounded by hundreds of others singing and humming these very same lyrics.
- Concert reviews will often describe the energy of the performers. This is a fair judgment to make. Even though this was my first time seeing Gogol Bordello in concert, the band has attended every single one of its shows. So yes, it’s important to note whether a band is going through the motions. But Gogol Bordello performed on January 1st with something more than just a sense of professional enthusiasm. It was clear to at least this member of the audience that the band members wanted to be nowhere more than the Terminal 5 stage. There are few things in life more exhilarating than observing people who absolutely love their jobs. Most people are motivated to enter their fields because there is some affinity there. Jobs are hard because you’re doing the same things, day after day. To see a band who obviously still loves what it does reminds us of why we pursued our jobs in the first place, making it a bit easier to go back to the weekday grind. This is what I mean when I say that a band has energy.
So yes, enjoy the energy. And while you’re at it, start wearing purple.
Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple
Gogol Bordello – Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)