Live Review: Man Man, Gogol Bordello @ Ram’s Head Live (2009.06.04)

186823226_lPhoto credit: Mike D’Ariano (not from this show)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Gogol Bordello – Dying After You (traditional Gypsy song) from NPR’s All Things Considered on April 29, 2006

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Man Man – Van Helsing Boombox from Six Demon Bag (2006)

Fuck if Man Man couldn’t be more awesome. I arrived at Rams Head Live to a snakelike line going nearly out the door, pseudo-hipster girls and some reluctant looking boyfriends were found in waiting throughout the folding rows. Surprisingly enough, Man Man went on right at the crack of nine-o’clock as planned and played the hell out of their set. Commencing with Rabbit Habits’ powerhouse, “Hurly Burly,” these Philly hobo-rockers ran though an hour of assorted songs from their three albums in what seemed like 20 minutes.

They tend to sound as if they’ve been waiting all their lives to play these tunes. Everything was in place while still appearing spontaneous, each musician perfectly competent in his portion of the music. The immediately frenzied crowd reacted in just such a way; I believe there was even a mild mosh pit by the set’s finale (for some reason).

The downside of Man Man’s set was the omission of their more balladesque tracks, being that “Rabbit Habits” was probably the only song that wasn’t made for hopping to. Seeing as their ability to invoke such a meaningful empathy is such a high point of their recorded output, the lack of slower songs was a particular disappointment. No “Feathers,” “Van Helsing Boombox,” “Gold Teeth,” “Doo Right,” and especially to my displeasure, no “Ice Dogs.”

Next up we had the Borat-like stylings of Gogol Bordello (with whom I’m much less familiar). Going through my computer’s speakers, they came off like an obnoxious party band that cares more about their fashion than any sort of art. However, the friends I went to the show with assured me that they’re supposed to be great live…and they couldn’t have been more right. The Rams Head nearly caved in whenever the hundreds of dancing young people decided to hit ground.

The madness wasn’t even relegated to the first floor pit as per usual: as I walked through the upper levels of the venue, I saw a number of feverishly flailing patrons in all places (this, by the way, made it impossible to move anywhere). Every song had a dance-beat: bass drum, high-hat, followed by snare and another high-hat, repeated ad nauseam for two to four minutes. Every. Last. Song.

To me, Gogol-frontman Eugene Hütz seems like he’s just putting on the Eastern-European mask for the sake of being “in.” Despite the fact that it totally worked and that it in no way takes anything from the live experience, this apparent artificiality allows songs like “Start Wearing Purple” to carry absolutely no artistic credibility. The whole act gives the impression that it’s a joke.

But hey, everyone had a good time last Thursday so in the end, who cares? Ask most anyone in the crowd and they’ll tell you that Gogol were off-the-fuggin-wall awesome, they may even posit that the Bordello’s performed better than Man Man (which I would have trouble believing). So, while I’d never recommend listening to a Gogol Bordello album front to back, I fully advocate the live experience. And in accordance with that, I think that what these musicians really care about is hosting a batshit insane party on stage, and not some silly recording.

Related posts

  1. Interview: Gogol Bordello (w/ Eugene Hutz)Aural States: So I am dying to know, you were...
  2. Live Review: Modest Mouse, Mimicking Birds, Japanese Motors @ Rams Head Live (2009.03.12)Photo credit: Courtney Campbell [Audio clip: view full post to...
  3. Live Review: The Shins, Delta Spirit @ Rams Head Live (2009.05.15)Photo credit: Flickr user Monica I have an unabashed, unashamed...
  4. Photos / Live Review: The Cranberries @ Rams Head Live (2009.11.12)What a pleasure it was to be able to see...
  5. Photos / Live Review: English Beat, Fishbone @ Rams Head Live (2010.02.24)Flickrshow will appear here! // Photo credit: Shantel Mitchell I...

2 Responses to “Live Review: Man Man, Gogol Bordello @ Ram’s Head Live (2009.06.04)”

  1. matt says:

    you think every gogol song sounds the same? you are obviously doing it wrong.

  2. Craig Shay says:

    “Borat-like stylings” made my morning.

Leave a Reply