Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gogol Bordello: The Fillmore Illuminated

It was a day filled with bizarre events: dogs barking at their owners, cats being friendly, Apple offering to replace my cracked iPhone for free, ex-employees offering me drinks, old friends calling without reason, the Yankees winning their second consecutive game against the Red Sox*, 77 degrees, 50% humidity. Clearly, the day claimed its stake among the extraordinary events to come. As I queued up for my will-call tickets at the Fillmore, the usual hipster/rocker/punk/preppy crowd was diluted by an even more diverse crowd from a variety of origins and ranging in a variety of ages. Being of Eastern European origins, I could relate to the loyalty associated with seeing a band with members from my native land, but I simply could not understand why there was a 75 year old lady waiting in line in front of me. If she was a family member, she'd not be waiting in line. So... was she going to rock out to the gypsy punk sounds of Gogol Bordello? If so, more power to her. Seriously, she would have needed more power. I lost track of her as I entered the Fillmore and I figured she must have gone straight through the crowd and joined the mayhem in the pit. Perhaps she was going to crowd surf. I don't know. What I do know is that people were selling tickets at over 4x face value outside to fans waiting to get a taste while Grandma Gogol is crowd-surfing and kneeing 25 year olds in the head.

Once inside, my usual joy of entering the Fillmore was deflated because Tim was not there to greet me with the usual, 'Good Evening, and Welcome to the Fillmore'. Instead, Keith, the sub, gave me a surly retort when I joked with him regarding Tim's absence, 'Tim learned everything from me', he said. Classy. Surely, Tim has much more to learn from Keith.

When I posted the show announcement on Tenacious Hand Stamp, I believe I mentioned something about bringing a change of clothes. I didn't necessarily take action to that effect, but I made sure to wear my lightest 'wicking' dri-weave T-shirt. And then I put on a jacket. Duh. Didn't matter. Jacket was off and by 3 measures into the first song I was sweating like a whore in church. You didn't even have to know the songs to get going. Some people in my group were fairly unaware of Gogol Bordello's music; others were completely unaware. That didn't stop anyone from jumping up and down, pumping their fists and dancing like nobody was watching.

Gogol Bordello brought a fresh element of excitement, rigor and sheer musical passion to everyone at the Fillmore. At one point during their set I couldn't even hear the frontman, Eugene Hutz, because the sing-along crowd was drowning him out. It didn't matter where you were in the audience, because it felt like at any given moment, he was going to leap into the crowd just to be a part of it. Gogol Bordello made us feel like they were at The Fillmore for us; not the other way around.

Half hour into the set, I'm soaked in sweat. Many people were. After all, there were a lot of Eastern Europeans there. I had to go outside to cool off. The San Francisco night came with a cool breeze (a relief from the oppressive high 70's we experience earlier in the day). My body temperature clashing with the cool night air generated a cloud that rose from my head which I tried to disguise by smoking a cigarette. The people outside were still dancing to the tunes that could be heard from the open door of the back stage entrance. I didn't want to miss anything, so I went back inside, bought a T-shirt, changed and returned to the main room. They finish their set, play their encore, lights go up, and people stayed and danced.

As I'm leaving, I ask for a poster; All out. I mean, really? Probably one of the top 5 most memorable shows I will ever see, and I don't have the poster because I stayed through the end? Damn. I walk to the corner where a young man is holding onto two posters. I ask to buy one and offer him $10. He clearly sees my yearning for the poster and my disdain for those who took more than 1 poster at the expense of the others still inside. He graciously denies my $10 and offers me the poster in return for an adult beverage if our paths should ever cross. Thank you, gentle friend with two posters. You are a good man and made my beautiful evening spectacular.

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*It's not quite bizarre that the Yankees beat the Red Sox two games in a row... especially in September. I just had to mention it for the record.


  1. "so I went back inside, bought a T-shirt, changed "


  2. sounds awesome, bro. is upper 70s hot? man....i would die for upper 70s right now. midwest humidity makes me fudge my undies -- whatever that means. anyhoo, sounds like it was a rad show.

  3. hands down, the BEST show i have ever seen! i have never seen that kind of energy at show. NEVER! it is absolutely amazing, and i will never miss a future show of theirs if i can help it!!! totally understand why you wrote GOGOL BORDELLO! GOGOL BORDELLO! GOGOL BORDELLO! GOGOL BORDELLO! GOGOL BORDELLO! GOGOL BORDELLO! on your calendar!