Gogol Bordello, Valient Thorr, and Dan Sartain
Irving Plaza, December 21, 2006
Irving Plaza, around the corner of Union Square at 14th Street, houses alternative bands with an established name. One of those well established names is Gogol Bordello, the mix of east-European immigrants residing in New York that play a polka version of Manu Chau. That seems less of a stretch that it at first hearing may sound given the simplistic beat of both polka and ska with a folkloristic overtone. And although Irving Plaza is a large venue for alternative standards, the house was not only completely full but moving up and down from beginning to end.
The gypsy punks of Gogol Bordello really know how to rise to the occasion, be it a well oiled machine with an absolute professional sense for entertainment, but the joy pours so directly, straight from the heart, without any pretension, a feature typical of East-European culture perhaps, that you get sucked into the eye of the storm of gypsy joy. Of course, being an immigrant myself, I realize we are all gypsys at heart and the motley crowd of Gogol Bordello onder the tireless lead of Eugene Hutz is a living example of gypsy glory. It is evident that the best place to see the energy explode is here, of all towns, in New York, in the greatest of all gypsy towns, just around the corner from the band’s base at the Bulgarian Bar, where they host after parties that are well known to end with every body dancing on the tables.
As a friend had arranged tickets for the show and I had not bothered looking at the other bands on forehand, it was a great and welcome surprise to see one of my favorite new bands of the last year start out. Dan Sartain’s debut album at One Little Indian records is an absolute brilliant of old school Rock’n’Roll with a Hank Williams sounds and a heart-felt dosis of energy. But my original thrill died a slow bit. Dan Sartain who’s originally from Birmingham, Alabammy, looked completely burned out and his stage performance at Irving Plaza was little more than an contractual obligation, a last gig before heading to Europe. And that is a shame for a young (23) and lonely heart whose songs vocalize such a sincere grief. Now is often the case that a bands first band is their best work of genius and Dan Sartain’s debut album Dan Sartain Vs. The Serpientes certainly is brilliant enough to be up there, but at the same time I hope that the materialization of his talent and gaining succes will not mean a loss of the deeply trenching grooves on his first long player will shallow.
“You don’t know what it’s like
to be … alone
no baby you don’t know how it feels
to have the cobra snapping at your heels
no baby you don’t know, no, you don’t”