The premier purveyors of Gypsy Punk, Gogol Bordello, headlined the Fonda Theatre on Tuesday, October 8, the second night of three back-to-back shows. A band so diverse, with members hailing from right here in L.A. to Ecuador and Russia. With their music just as diverse, you’ll find it firmly rooted in gypsy punk but not shy of Latin and Dub styles. Gogol Bordello are like an American dream, and I was psyched to see them live again after a long seven year wait. Before I could fulfill that dream, I caught the opening band, Long Beach’s Crystal Antlers who brought the speed and force with their awesomely loud as fuck set. A little bummed that I couldn’t thoroughly hear the saxaphone player amidst all the fuzzy distortion but the energy remained high with vocalist/bassist Jonny Bell leading the way through a kick ass set with his full rock n’ roll belt. Crystal Antlers have a new album out titled, Nothing is Real, and it was great to hear some of these riveting punk-fueled tracks live on the Fonda stage.
The waiting game between sets was pleasant enough with Flogging Molly and Latin jams coming through the speakers but the crowd’s anxious anticipation was growing. Finally, the curtains opened up and the band came on stage, a few members at a time and they took off running with classics like “Wonderlust King” and “Not a Crime” off their albums Super Taranta! and Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. It was no wonder that by the fourth song, vocalist/guitarist Eugene Hutz was shirtless, and that’s how you know you’re in business: sweat, dancing, crowd-surfing and minimal cell phone usage ensued! The mix of new songs from their 2013 release Pura Vida Conspiracy with even more classics like “My Companjera,” “When Universes Collide,” and “Pala Tute” was exhilarating. The rousing rendition of their early hit “Start Wearing Purple” saw every fist pumping in the air, every mouth open and vocals chords straining to sing along — and me stumbling straight into the side of the pit, where I was welcomed by jumping, swaying bodies.
No one in the crowd wanted to accept that it was time to go home so they stomped, ‘ole’d’, and clapped until their hands went numb (mine included) to convince the band to come back out for an encore. And they came back out for not just one, but TWO encores featuring new and old songs alike, such as the highly catchy “Lost Innocent World” and “Sally.” The sweat soaked, goofy grinning, content crowd were living proof that Gogol Bordello never disappoint and that we’re always coming back for more.
Words: Emily Saex
Photography: Monique Hernandez
For more photos of Gogol Bordello and Crystal Antlers, click through the photo gallery below!