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Show Crush Recap: Gogol Bordello and Man Man at House of Blues 6/5

June 8, 2009

Going into this show I knew little about Gogol Bordello. When I heard Wonderlust King for the first time I knew I needed to see them because they could quite possibly be really amazing live. Amazing in a fun way, in a Firewater or a Bloodhound Gang sort of way. Only better.

So off we go folks.

Personal Confession Crush: I would say that maybe it would be good to do some research beforehand about bands you are going to see, as a general rule of thumb. That way, when you go to pick up your roommate’s ticket from a friend of a friend and they start dropping album names, you don’t seem like a total poser. When I was 16, I used to hate people like me.

With tickets in hand and parties ready to go, we enter the NEW House of Blues. Three levels of fun! They did take away the bar in the ladies room. (Sorry girls you are just going to have to go out there and face your bad date.)

After my picture-taking friend and I get a few things squared, we are ready to rock.

The first band to play is Man Man, who I also know nothing about going into this. Man Man is all glittery, plastic horned, face painted, cut off shorts and ready to bring it. They brought their pet white cat on stage with them too. They are a five piece of multi-instrumentalists that go from surf guitar to stuff reminiscent of early Modest Mouse. They bring high energy and crashing tempo changes throughout the whole set while a few members constantly shift instruments. For those of us who are less musically inclined, that in and of itself is pretty impressive. At one point, the singer Honus Honus came on stage in a sequined dress that looked like something Tina Turner would wear! Awesome. They totally got the audience jazzed as the room packed in for what the sold out crowd had been waiting for…

The crowd was hyped and ready to go. First up on the stage is the lead singer Eugene with an acoustic guitar and he starts right in like a drunkin’ pirate. Then the rest of the guys start entering the stage and playing one by one. The fiddle player looks like a sailor that has weathered a few storms, which added even more to the mystique and charm of the band. I am pretty sure he could be a merchant marine but when I looked further into it I guess he used to be a theater director in the Ukraine for 10 years before coming here. Close enough. The whole set was a barrage of high-energy gypsy punk as they call it, that never slowed down, not once, not for the whole two hours that they played. There was chanting, fist throwing, and tons of crowd surfing. All good in nature. Their music infects with hyperactivity and causes fits of dancing. I found myself spontaneously pogoing at one point. I could not resist fist pounding and shouting along with the rest of the room to Start wearing purple, wearing purple”.

Although the lyrics were somewhat indecipherable at times, the energy and musicianship were top notch, from the smooth bass playing of Tommy Gobena to the precise fiddle work of Sergey Ryabtsev. As Eliot and Pedro held up everything with some pretty mean drum beats, sample beats, box beats, etc. You name the beats, they threw them at us. The band’s sound is all over the spectrum, but never lets you down. On another side note: there is no age discrimination, for all you people sick of another band from NYC with 20-something hipsters. Yuri is 54! Both Yuri Lemeshev and Sergey may be old but can rock harder and take the whole lot of them. The show totally lived up to and even exceeded my pre-conceived notion that this band would be awesome… Then again what else would you expect from a troupe fronted by a Chernobyl survivor!

Just in case you are not a poser like me… and knew about the fine details of their catalogue going into it, here is the set list, if you could not make it (or were there) and want to know if they played your favorite song.

Set list:


















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