Gogol Bordello

There's a line in Gogol Bordello's 2002 song "Let's Get Radical" that goes something like: "You know mother, some things are actually sacred, and tapping your foot to the ceremony just won't do." The song has one of the New York group's more abrasive and melancholy lyrics (it actually starts out with Eugene Hütz moaning "Oh fuuuuck") and may not be typical of their sonic approach, but that one line sums up the group's musical philosophy about as succinctly as possible. By straining the minor-key musical heritage of their Eastern European backgrounds through the smart-party sensibilities of their current Lower East Side residence, Gogol Bordello has translated the relentlessly danceable music of the gypsies into relentlessly danceable (and politically charged) counterculture experimentalism. But the neat trick about what Hütz and company have done is that they've made their musical heritage accessible to contemporary audiences without sucking any of the energy or historical context out of it; Gogol Bordello shows are powder keg parties, with a velvet rope line that stretches back to the Middle Ages.

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Jason Ferguson