GOGOL BORDELLO

Published on April 22nd, 2022

Gogol Bordello by Daniel Efram

Gogol Bordello are gypsy punks who found one another in a pre-9/11 downtown New York that welcomed itinerants with talent, ideas and remarkable backstories — like that of the band’s co-founder and frontman, Eugene Hütz, a Ukrainian refugee from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident who is now confronting another horror in his birthplace.

With a shifting lineup, and members hailing from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, singer-guitarist Hütz and a core of long-tenured mates including Russian-born violinist Sergey Ryabtsev have created something that speaks to different people in different ways.

Gogol Bordello enjoy cult status as the providers of both incidental music and character inspiration for “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” a surrealist indie comedy from 2006 that starred Tom Waits. Hütz, an actor himself, has even higher-brow pedigree from starring in 2005’s “Everything Is Illuminated,” adapted from an acclaimed novel. Yet Gogol Bordello didn’t turn up their noses when the music supervisors for 2018’s “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” came calling.

They’re a good-time party band traipsing across the globe, indoctrinating people with their infectious world music meets gypsy punk vibe. And they’ve always had an underdog’s fighting spirit. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the band wrote and released “Teroborona,” which opens as a martial dirge and then turns into a defiant scorcher of a track — sung in Ukrainian — lauding the besieged country’s “teroborona,” its civil defense forces.

The lyric translation posted on SoundCloud includes the lines, “We were slaughtered, starved and beaten/But Ukraine lives on,” and a hearty, “Hey-Hey! Get the Fuck Off!!!” to finish. Meanwhile, Ryabtsev posted a video in Russian appealing to his compatriots to oppose the invasion in all its barbarity.

After two years of being cooped up it should be nothing but joy for these nomadic melody makers to return to the road. But the tour coincides with events demanding their attention. The band’s web site now offers reading and outlets for Ukraine aid, and on tour Gogol Bordello are mobilizing audiences to help any way they can.

Gogol Bordello play 7pm Monday May 16 at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale. gogolbordello.com ~ Tim Moffatt

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