Gogol Bordello

SXSW live shot

Gogol Bordello

Emo's Main, Thursday, March 16

This isn't a rock show, it's a celebration of life and liberty dispensed by Ukrainian émigré Eugene Hutz and his insanely energetic crew of larger-than-life characters. Gogol Bordello is the most uniquely entertaining act to hit SXSW. Opening with slow climb "Immigrant Punk" off last year's Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, the international sevenpiece spazzed out. "It's one-year anniversary since joining [label] Side One Dummy," Hutz exclaimed with thickly accented, broken English. "So let's party!" The stage was then transformed into an Eastern European cabaret, due largely to Hutz's amazing 'stache and the talent and antics of former Moscow theatre director Sergei Riabtsev on fiddle. Hitting nearly everything off Gypsy Punks in the hourlong set, the show coalesced with drama, athletics, and punk rock, not to mention the explosively manipulative "Start Wearing Purple," the accordion solo in "Not a Crime," and the screaming marionettes of "I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again." If the life of a NYC immigrant can be summed up in one song, it must be "Undestructable." Hutz mounted the bass drum, balancing deftly on the hands of a hundred fans, as he spat and screamed political. Now that's activism.

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