Sasquatch 2015, Day 1: Gogol Bordello

Sasquatch
05/23/2015
Isaac Kaplan-Woolner
all photos by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)

As the sun set behind the main stage at Sasquatch Festival, global gypsy dub punk rockers Gogol Bordello played an uptempo set that kept crowd energy high. Formed in New York in 1999, this group has always drawn upon a wide palate of sonic influences. The eight-piece band's unique instrumentation included an accordion player clad in a heavily spiked leather vest and a fiddle player sawing so enthusiastically that he'd broken through at least half the horse hairs on his bow before the show was over. Lead singer Eugene Hütz was a commanding presence on stage, strutting around shirtless with a bottle of red wine in hand and jumping up on the stage monitors to work the crowd time and again. Showmanship and energy are both clearly high on the priority list for Gogol Bordello, and the crowd responded in kind with pumping fists and jumping dances. The sound is a bit hard to classify or pin down, but it is built upon a timeless Balkan folk tradition heavily steeped in equal parts punk rock and dub reggae. Somehow it all melds together into an infectious, fun, irresistible amalgamation. A highlight of the set included the song "Immigraniada", which started with a loping caribbean groove than quickly broke into a high energy thrash of the refrain "We comin' rougher every time!", before the overdriven guitar dropped out again to make space for an accordion solo. This is melting pot music, made by immigrants, creating a uniquely postmodern, transcontinental sound. After all these years, their biggest hit still remains "Start Wearing Purple", which appeared on the sound track of the film Everything Is Illuminated, which co-starred Hütz. As soon as the chorus began, the crowd threw themselves into an even greater frenzy. Hütz sprayed red wine into his mouth and over his naked chest, wagging his tongue wildly at the audience and clearly having a hell of a good time. "Fuck globally!" he implored the crowd. As dusk gave way to night, the wind picked up to cool the sweaty dancers packed into the pit, and as the last notes died away people moved on to catch the next set on their packed playlists.

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