When long-haired, handlebar-mustache sporting Eugene Hutz, lead singer for gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello walked onstage, his first order of business was to take a lengthy swig from a bottle of red wine. He raised the bottle high and then even poured a little into the open mouth of an excited fan before setting it down and grabbing his guitar. The crowd surged with cheers and raised fists. The rest of the group joined Hutz onstage and they wasted no time plunging into their first song, an upbeat and catchy amalgamation of Russian style accordion and violin matched with punk sound on guitar and drums.
Hutz's thick accent and powerful vocals carries the band's songs, matching the two musical styles perfectly. Gogol Bordello's style is eclectic and unique, combining genres that don't typically mix. And they are very successful at it.
The only pauses Hutz took in his performance during the first half of the show was to strip off some clothing: his jacket after the second song, his loose button-up shirt after the third, and finally he took off his T-shirt, performing that way for the rest of the evening. He has the kind of skinny body that seems only to come to those who spend the majority of their time clenching a microphone and belting songs from the gut.
The rest of the band has their own unique style as well: violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, with his long gray beard and Slayer shirt, accordion player Yuri Lemeshev with his playful interactions with the crowd, and the quirky background singers that periodically ran onstage. Thomas "Tommy T" Gobena is short and punchy. He would run out with a microphone to beat box and contribute to the backup vocals, getting the crowd even more amped by dancing around the stage and shaking his finger at audience members. Add to the mix Pamela Racine and Elizabeth Sun, a couple of hot and extremely talented women playing cymbals and bass drum in outfits that look like naughty versions of marching band uniforms, and the band created a performance unlike anything I've ever seen.
When the show ended an hour and a half later, I was still grinning from ear to ear and jumping up and down, as was most of the crowd. Hutz thanked Boise and made a joke about how he thought he wouldn't have any friends in Boise, and they walked offstage.
Five minutes later, when the cheering still hadn't subsided, Hutz came back out, took another gulp of wine, and began playing one of their more famous songs, "Alcohol." The band joined him halfway through and what I thought would be a typical encore of one or two songs turned into another twenty minutes of music. More amazing than that was the amount of energy the group still had. They played as though they'd just come onstage, and when they finally said, "Goodnight," they looked ready to play another show. That may be the first time I'd seen a band actually wear out the crowd.