If a wedding reception were held during a riot, then it might come close to resembling the unruly jubilance of a Gogol Bordello show.
Thursday night the Roxy was shaking with the inimitable, self-described "gypsy punk" grooves of the international octet. The floor in front of the stage teemed with bouncing, shouting, sweating music lovers of all stripes. In the less crowded areas near the back, parents danced in circles with their kids, couples stretched out to tango and jitterbug, and even those in line for the ladies room stalls couldn't keep from tapping their toes. Resistance was futile.
The pied piper of all this good-natured mayhem was gloriously scruffy Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz.
With his jaunty chapeau, polka-dot shirt, and theatrical growl -which sounds uncannily like Muppet pianist Rowlf the Dog - the Ukrainian singer-songwriter was a one-man party. He roamed the stage thrashing his acoustic guitar, whacking a bucket and howling on whatever microphone was nearest about everything from revolution to sex to marinated herring. All this in five languages.
Hutz led a merry band (fiddler, accordionist, bassist, guitarist, drummer, and two female backing singers) that only looked ramshackle. Underneath their ecstatically unhinged stage demeanors each member brought an unerring precision to tunes from the recent "Super Taranta!" and 2005's "Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike."
The synthesis of so many styles is the key to Gogol Bordello's success. If the band simply changed musical costumes for each number it would be too jarring a spectacle. But because Hutz, with his anything-goes punk ethos, has found a way to whisk bird calls, disco rhythms, and accordion flourishes into his melting pot, it never feels like an exercise in "world music." Instead, the audience gets the honest expression of a group of immigrants trying to cram everything they love into one heady stew.
The 95-minute set was almost punishing in its relentlessness, as there was scarcely time to catch your breath between songs like "American Wedding," "Start Wearing Purple," and "Harem in Tuscany (Taranta)."
The tempo slowed momentarily during the encore for Hutz's wry ode to all that is both stupendous and stupefying about "Alcohol." Although it started as an almost country-ish jaunt, it soon blossomed into a full band roof-raiser.