Violin. Accordion. Stage dancers dressed in garish costumes and red buckets emblazoned with the word "fire" that double as makeshift footwear and percussion. Skinny, scintillating guitars and clever lyrics. Violin and accordion. Seriously. The greatest rock and roll show on the planet? It just might be.
That's the reputation of Gogol Bordello, the boisterous New York-based gypsy punk octet led by wily, charismatic frontman Eugene Hutz. It is with this varied instrumentation—and truly electrifying execution—that the band crafted the 14 freewheeling anthems that make up their latest album, Super Taranta! Produced by frequent Nick Cave collaborator Victor Van Vugt, Super Taranta! is a blissful and often bewildering set of strutting avant-punk and broken sing-alongs influenced by the varied musical palettes of the band's multi-national membership. Featuring players of Ukrainian, Russian, Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Scottish, and Israeli backgrounds, Gogol is UN-approved punk rock. The band collaborated onstage with Madonna at Live Earth in London, and soon they'll be featured in the singer's forthcoming short film Filth and Wisdom, which premieres at Sundance in February. The film stars Hutz as a sort of philosophical wanderer; a bit of casting that should seem natural to anyone who saw him in Everything Is Illuminated or, well, in any given Gogol Bordello performance.
Whether singing in English, Ukrainian, or some variation of another tongue, Hutz is a revelation among modern rockers. As a performer, he's been described as part Iggy Pop and part Borat. But as a lyricist, he's entirely a man who was raised in parts of Poland, Hungary, Austria, Italy, and the States, once the Chernobyl disaster forced him from his homeland. Accordingly, his compassion for the world and its people, and his enthusiasm for life, are matched only by the energy he produces onstage. Quite frankly, his is a resume fit for the center of the greatest rock show on earth.