Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lolla review: Gogol Bordello

I am about to cry because it is starting to look like I may have lost all of my pictures and videos from Lollapalooza. I can't pull them up from my memory card, and Mr. IMo? has the camera this week. I had some great shots of Gogol Bordello.

I was only slightly familiar with Gogol Bordello before I got to Lollapalooza, but I am now a fan. I don't want to make a habit of getting too much into my own personal politics, but often politics and music are so intertwined there is little distinction, so I will divulge this...I love immigrants.

Mr. IMo?'s dad was born into Nazi occupied Holland, during what is known as the "Hunger Winter", and came over to the States with his family in the early 1950's, and eventually became a naturalized citizen. One of my favorite ancestors is my great-great grandmother who was born to a Swiss-German father and his Chilean housekeeper in Mexico, soon to become California, during the Gold Rush. Pretty much everyone in the US has their own immigrant story, and most of us come from a group which was hated for immigrating.

The history of this land is a history of civil conflict arising each time there is a new wave of immigrants, whether they are the Spanish coming to "discover" North America, the Vikings before them, the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, the Quakers, the Africans brought over as slaves, the Chinese brought over to build railroads, the Mormons and the Mexicans, the Jews, the Germans, the Irish, the Italians, and now back again to the Mexicans and our newest immigrant "enemy" the Muslims. Nobody can seem to get used to the idea that there really is room for everyone in the free market and a democracy (not that we really have either) and the newest wave of immigrants always takes the heat for anything the majority wants to be disgruntled about.

Gogol Bordello with its "Familia Undestructable" platform is the perfect reflection of that history and all the chunks of influence each wave of immigrants has brought to this country in particular, but also globalization in general. The crowd at Gogol Bordello had the most diverse audience I have seen at almost any festival. Their global attitude is reflected in everything from the nationalities of each member of the band, the cross-cultural dress, the range of instruments, musical styles and lyrics. The music is very gypsy based, but crosses the board. I would call it Indo-European with a splash of Latin American and a sprinkle of Asian.

Eugene Hütz declared his "total support of immigrants worldwide" from the stage and the crowd went wild. I found the whole experience amazing, because so many people were connecting to his sound. They were just fabulously international, and I think every one, whether they were Eastern European, Hispanic, Asian, an old hippie or a politically aware punk kid, seemed to see themselves somehow reflected in what Gogol Bordello represents. It didn't hurt that there was effusive love from the stage going out to the crowd.

If I were to best compress them into a comparison I would say musically they are similar to Dropkick Murphys with the political currency of Rage Against the Machine. The best moment I saw was when there was on old-school punk circular pit going and then as the music slowed it turned into a circle with arms across shoulders like a folk dance. It was incredible.

This is an entirely different kind of "world music" and I bet you find something of yourself reflected in it.


Highlight from the show:
"Immigrant Punk" - Gogol Bordello

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