It’s not very often that D.C. is exposed to a musical orgy quite like that of Gogol Bordello. Defined as gypsy punk, the band perversely mixes Balkan, Middle Eastern, punk and electric beats to transgress all barriers of music except that of manufactured rock. Their sound is for those tired of the forced rock ‘n’ roll sounds of mainstream today, attracting everyone from the punk scene to second-generation immigrants. Lead singer Eugene Hutz was born and raised in Ukraine and fueled by his surroundings. But he says that it was when he first saw Sonic Youth that he became obsessed with music.
“From then on, I was totally obsessed with moving to New York. At that time, there was a lot of social change going on in Ukraine. I was in a band, and everyone I knew was in a band,” he said.
With lyrics that display apathy towards any particular political party and a lust for anarchy, Hutz reflected on D.C. performances saying that he thinks it is quite funny that people always analyze politics in their music. He feels it goes beyond that: it’s humanitarian.
“When I was 16 years old, anarchy got in my blood, and it has not left,” he said. “It never will.”
The band’s sound is the musical version of globalization, with members stretching from Israel to Ukraine to an American drummer. But the band stresses that it is the characters that each member brings to their music, not their nationality, which matters the most in driving the band’s unequivocal energy. Known for their underground reputation as the best live show in New York, Gogol Bordello makes a caberet out of punk, no doubt an influence of New York, integrating an accordion, sax and other instruments to a DJing style that Hutz has injected with hints of disco beats. The result is an eclectic sound unique to Gogol Bordello, and rest assured, they feel that America is ready for it.
On their new EP, East Infection, a collection of B Sides that the band made for friends in Ukraine, the band shows even more growth. Included is a cover of Manu Chao’s “Mala Vida” lurching the band into an even greater expansion of musical genres with Spanish influences. For this band, there are no boundaries. Disgusted by what rock and roll has become, they bring infectious dance beats side to side with erotic, gypsy melodies. In tracks like “Let’s get radical” on their Multi Contra Culti vs. Irony album, Gogol Bordello fuses anarchy with impulsive beats, singing, “You know mother some things are actually sacred and tapping your foot to the ceremony just won’t do. We’ve got the cure for you, provided of course you will ever make it through. So let’s get radical.”
Gogol Bordello performs Saturday at the Black Cat (1811 14th St. N.W.).