DVD: Gogol Bordello Non Stop
Among the performers at the Tibet House’s 20th Annual Benefit Concert this past February at Carnegie Hall, was a musical group who had the whole house of hippies and humanitarians dancing and clapping, and, who, admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with.
Their energetic lead singer shouted lyrics, furiously strummed his acoustic guitar, and jumped around the stage amid the rest of the merry band. Their sound was throbbing, loud and fast. The group, of course, was none other than New York’s own gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello, and their leader is the charismatic Eugene Hütz. Luckily, Margarita Jimeno brings us a documentary to help us brush up on our gypsy-punk awareness.
Gogol Bordello Non Stop follows the beloved band to live shows between 2001 and 2006, giving insight to the musicians’ individual backgrounds and experiences. The majority of the movie focuses on Hütz, with his handlebar mustache and sleepy eyes, as he pours out his enigmatic wisdom earned through the tribulations he has faced as an immigrant.
One telling moment shows video footage of Hütz with his family in Kiev, USSR on New Year’s Eve, 1988. They are toasting to getting the hell out of the USSR and reuniting in America. He describes how, right after his 17th birthday, his family did leave the USSR with refugee status. In the new country, Hütz collected bandmates, formed a troupe, and gained exposure and popularity through the new band’s wild shows and infectious music.
“We also choose to invent our own world and our own freedom,” says Hütz, “because the freedom is not available, and you have to invent it.” Judging by his ever-increasing following, his own world has brought him a long way from those early disappointments.
“The gypsy music can be a total source of excitement for everybody who basically loved rock n’ roll, but since rock n’ roll has no excitement anymore….,” explains Hütz in the documentary, “I need some more exciting music.” He goes on, “I also love all this traditional gypsy music that’s so fucking bonkers, buckwild, apeshit style.”
Their fans love this rowdy, pulsing music as well. The cameras catch the crazy crowds having a great time at the shows, and more importantly, being a big part of those shows and the band’s success. If there’s one common thread in the movie, it might be an idea of community, community among “immigrant punks” that is.