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And the band, always the band. Gogol Bordello put on a benefit with Dub Trio, Kultur Shock, and Outernational (whose CD he produced) Friday at Irving Plaza for Romani Jag (romanijag.uz.ua). "They monitor police brutality and take cops to court. They defend people's rights. Racism is still high. In Andalusia in Spain, where the flamenco was coming from originally, at the only flamenco bar there is, Gypsies are not allowed in," he says. "They created the flamenco and they are not allowed in there. There's still racism and discrimination everywhere you go."
Here's my dirty little secret: For all the DJ sets I've seen Hütz spin, I'd never seen his band. I'd heard Gogol Bordello's music, but I always knew that the key to getting the band was seeing them onstage. I was right.
Here's how a normal band plays a show: Usually it's a four- or five-piece: guitars, drums, bass, singer. They stand in place, look forlornly at their shoes, sing earnest songs about their woes to an audience that looks bored, sad, or both. They play an encore, and if they're lucky, a girl throws a bra onstage. Usually, they are not lucky.
Here's a Gogol Bordello show: The place is packed to the rafters with kids of all agesgirls with mohawks, goth chicks with platinum-blond hair and black eyeliner, guys drunk with anticipation and beer. They are already pushing and shoving and crushed against the barricade separating the crowd from the band. This tells you its gonna be that kind of show. The band starts, and there are so many people onstage dressed in colorful Gypsy-esque outfits, you can't keep track. There's an older dude, Sergey Rjabtzev, wearing a Slayer shirt and playing the violin so hard that he breaks a string, and almost pokes your eye out with his stick (not thatstickhis bow). There is a moshpit that you are scared to even be near, with brave girls and boys floating on top. During the encore, Pamela Jintana Racine, one of the singer-drummers, passes her drum into the crowd, which dutifully holds it aloft while she climbs on top of it and bangs it. Then Hütz joins her and she jumps back onstage.
There's a woman hovering on top of the crowd, being passed along limb by limb. She's on her back, her legs splayed wide. She lands on the drum. She fights to join Hütz, and wiggles her way underneath him. She wraps her legs around him, arches her neck, and thrusts her fists out, victorious. She's been cured.