Today, gypsy-folk-punk renegades Gogol Bordello gave a free lunchtime show at everybody’s favorite avant-garde music venue, the Urban Outfitters in Soho. (They also signed copies of vinyl cause, duh, Urban Outfitters).
The group – which hails from the Lower East Side by way of Brazil and the Balkans – is on tour promoting its new record, Pura Vida Conspiracy, and the hour-long performance served as a teaser for a sold-out show tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
A crowd of a few hundred gathered in the basement of U.O. for what turned out to be an extremely frenetic, high-energy, 40-minute lunch break. Five members of the octet showed up to rock out on an impromptu stage composed of hanging glass bottles, a Persian carpet, and white light bulbs strung from the ceiling like fairy lights.
The floor was literally quaking beneath our feet as frontman Eugene Hutz leaped up and down like a crazed Energizer bunny, and the audience chanted, clapped, jumped and stomped enthusiastically in turn. The set was composed mostly of tracks from the new album, but still offered some old favorites like and “My Companjera” and “Immigraniada.”
The only thing killing the vibe was the perpetually overzealous Urban Outfitters staff. The very tame audience was kept in check by a full security detail, and marshaled by a team of crop-top sporting handlers who threatened not to bring the band out for the signing until fans were in a “single-file line.” (It was a lot like grade school, if your grade-school teachers sold OBEY hats for a living).
We finally made it to the front of the single-file line, where we were pleased to discover that Hutz – who cinephiles might recognize as Elijah Wood’s zany Ukrainian guide in Everything is Illuminated – was just as zany as his character. He sat sipping on an East India Pale Ale, his long brown hair dripping sweat onto a thick beaded necklace.
Was he happy to be back in New York? “I never really left. It’s like I’m always here in transit, rehearsing, or going to Urban Outfitters,” he quipped.
We spoke a little bit about the new album, their six full-length offering which was released this week to mostly positive reviews.
“It’s the best record we have,” he said, in response to our question about whether he had changed up the group’s sound. “Change it up doesn’t mean anything. It’s very different but very much the same. It’s like quieter but louder, harsher but softer. It’s like that.”
And what could those lucky enough to snag tickets expect from tonight’s show?