Jacobs — Gogol show makes for a rockin’ new year

By by Justin Jacobs

For most people, New Year’s Eve includes drinking too much booze, partying your hardest and a… For most people, New Year’s Eve includes drinking too much booze, partying your hardest and a slowly descending ball. The whole ordeal is not unlike a boy going through puberty. For me, this past New Year’s Eve was much the same, except replace the ball with an Eastern European punk band and a trip hitchhiking through Philadelphia. Or, put simply, here is why the best thing to do on New Year’s Eve is go to a concert. The atmosphere at a good show, no matter the genre, is electric ‘mdash; a group of like-minded fans coming together to celebrate something they love. Does that sound corny? Of course, but it sure as hell feels good. Throw in the general sentiment of a New Year’s Eve celebration and that electric feel is going to explode. Not only are concert goers partying over music ‘mdash; the great unifier of people ‘mdash; but also over the fact that come midnight, everything seemingly changes and it’s time to start fresh. Scanning the possible shows on the east coast, my girlfriend happened upon a Gogol Bordello show at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory. Gogol Bordello is the brainchild of Eugene Hutz, a Brooklyn-via-Romania madman who throws raucous punk rock speed and attitude with even more raucous gypsy-esque, almost klezmer, Eastern European traditional folk music into a big pot of borscht. He then sprinkles in lyrics about drinking, wearing purple and being an immigrant, all sung in Hutz’ quaky, gruff holler and thick accent. Our hopes for the show were higher than the tips of Hutz’ massive moustache (easily the best in rock ‘n’ roll ‘- even better than The Hold Steady’s Franz Nicolai). The band didn’t disappoint. The West Philadelphia Orchestra finished up its set of thumping Balkan stompers and Gogol Bordello took the stage to the general elation of the crowd, which began to dance before a note was even played. Multiple drinks later, we dove into the crowd just minutes before midnight. Describing a Gogol Bordello show is a lot like describing the true nature of God. As in, well, you can’t do it while justifying the power of something so huge. Under the massive weight of the musical stomp of the near-dozen-member band, the entire crowd moved as one, many arm-in-arm twirling in circles, others stomping, jumping and shaking like they were having an Eastern European seizure. Three…two…one, and hundreds of balloons dropped on the crowd. Because of the near-violent intensity of the dancing, many popped before they even hit the floor.’ The crowd responded to tunes like the instructional romp ‘Think Globally, F**k Locally’ by appropriately going bats**t insane. If anyone left without making some new dancing friends, they were likely deaf, blind or painfully sober. The show let out around 1:30 a.m., and the sweaty, exhausted masses hit the streets. Wobbly drunk and still dancing for some reason, I thought it’d be no problem to get a cab. On New Year’s Eve. At 1:30 a.m. After catching frostbite on at least 74 percent of my body in only 20 minutes, we decided that it’d be best to walk the several miles back to my brother’s apartment. Luckily, after a few blocks, a car full of black girls stopped on the corner. ‘You need a ride?’ one asked eagerly. ‘Absolutely,’ I said. ‘Are you guys legit?’ Apparently, this was how I saw fit to judge if we were or were not going to get robbed. ‘You know it,’ she said. ‘No, I’m not going…’ said my girlfriend as I pulled her into the car with me. My judgment was fantastic, and we made it in just a few minutes. After several more drinks, I fell asleep in a suitcase. If this tale hasn’t convinced you, then let me be blunt. Go to a good rock ‘n’ roll show next New Year’s Eve. It beats the ball every time. Want more rock? Check out Justin’s newborn music blog at www.gravityrideseverythingblog.blogspot.com for tour updates, musings and general awesomeness. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘