New Year In D.C. With Gigi Mac And Gogol Bordello

A welcome return for our international correspondent Gigi Mac who had quite a start to 2016…

I feel so very special… Eugene Hütz loves DC! For a good while now, every year Gogol Bordello descends upon the District and parties with us on New Year’s Day, This year, we got TWO nights! He does not leave out his current hometown however– NYC got their local boys for New Year’s Eve, then their caravan careened downward swiftly & professionally, permitting us to start 2016 off in proper Gypsy Punk stylee!  Last year I could not attend the festivities, much to my Russian partner in crime Elena’s chagrin, but this year we were both extremely giddy back in October when tickets went on sale & we quickly scooped ours up– luckily, as both nights sold out almost immediately!
gogol 4So this was the year for anniversaries & poignant moments… the club, a long time favorite venue of the DC area- ‘Club 9:30’, celebrating 35 years of existence [and 20 years at its current location]. Named for its original address at 930 F Street, NW, DC— a home away from home for me, having seen & heard multiple examples of coolness crammed up in there, such as That Petrol Emotion, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Butthole Surfers, B52s, the Orb, to name a few… even a nice intro to the DC Hardcore scene, with Minor Threat, etc — I couldn’t commit tho’, hardcore boys aren’t very fun…  anyway, enough of the 9:30 Club! Bottom line: lots of great, grimy & slightly smelly memories… maybe I’ll tell you guys more later, especially that Orb show… 😉
Also, another anniversary was being celebrated by Gogol Bordello themselves! It seems that a particular release in 2005 has done extraordinarily well, “Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike”  and this tour was in celebration of its 10 year existence — a majority of the songs were from that album, with some unexpected diversions [which differed each night]. Finally, a sad departure of Elizabeth Sun, dancer & ‘hype girl’ of the band… she was joined by Pamela Racine, her predecessor, to inject a double dose of cool bad-ass Asian chick-ness to both shows, dancing, background vocals & pretty decent percussion when needed. It’ll be sad to see her go…

gogol 2With our front row position well-established [having waited outside in the bitter cold as a huge line formed behind us, we the early few] after slinking around rhythmically to some catchy samba & forro chunes piping over the speakers, by 9:15ish we were greeted by some fetching young lads from L.A. — ‘Chicano Batman’ the opening band — nattily attired in tuxes, ruffled shirts & bowties [clearly break-away or infused with spandex, considering the stage athleticism]. Their sound?  think Prince with less ‘Revolution’ meets trippy, late 70s Mexican surfer. A  hint of jazz, but definitely able to seriously ROCK– blisteringly hot & focused bass, charming & flirty front man on keyboard and rhythm guitar with luxurious flowing curls & a killer falsetto — just wished the sound guy could have balanced out his mic better.


But it’s allllll good, we’re still alive… [ha !] and the quiet, underrated & brilliant lead guitarist… sadly, even though the drummer was quite good we didn’t even get to see him do his magic — that keyboard & our lovely grooving frontman dominated the stage, which was fine with us… A good 30-45 minutes or so, then they were off, the serious roadies were back– checking & strumming & banging & flashing & ‘sibilancing’ & flexing & tweaking & hydration placing & smoke machining — an efficient thing of beauty, those boys… More piped-in chunes, getting a bit more giddy every time they played some samba we recognized… and then…. and then…?

gogol 1

spot the author !


Illumination!  What a great way to start the set! YES! Eugene et al had finally taken the stage and we were fully in the palm of their collective hands…  I was fascinated by the different people we had seen outside waiting to go in — the adorable & seemingly reserved Israeli couple looking like they stepped out of a Burberry catalog in front of us in line earlier (who’d had a very short-lived moment of panic at first since they’d forgotten to get their tickets from will-call and was afraid we’d make them get in the back of the line, which was at that point curved around the block, aww, the poor well-dressed darlings… how cruel would we have been??) now crazed & sweaty & practically levitating during the rhythmic “heys!!” Burberry be damned!  One older lady who had never been to a Gogol Bordello show, horrified, with her dangly earrings & crisp Gogol Bordello t-shirt, clearly purchased that evening, as she was caught up in waves of bodies crashing into each other, [as, of course, along with the gypsy element, we can’t forget the PUNK element] and crashing into us, as we held our front positions fast & with purpose — every song better than the one before — Sergey’s violin, Pasha’s accordian, Eugene’s acoustic guitar, wildman Boris on lead guitar, Tommy on bass, Pedrito on percussion & vocals & ‘hype’, both drummers… sorry I forgot their names… shame on me… 😀  [btw, I believe some nice boys helped the lady get to safety eventually… bless her… we chatted with her later — and she remarked how much I looked like Natalie Cole… I do! but that’s beside the point… RIP btw, to my sorta twin]

Eugene Hütz is a fascinating man — OK, he’s not a golden throated songbird, don’t think he ever claimed to be… his lyrics are at times in severely broken English & very abstract, and the presentation of these lyrics at times don’t even make sense at first, but the man is a genius, and there’s pain & joy & storytelling in everything he produces. At one point during the night, we saw each other — he was working the crowd as he always does and the band was almost catching air, they were so on fire, and there, in the middle of this perfect storm he got in front of me, came close, looked me in the eyes, of course causing the multitude of boys behind me with their Eugene Hütz man-crushes to almost sever my torso on the barrier bar as they pushed into me to get close to him, and in those animated, dancing blue eyes I saw a man in complete…. control…. of… EVERYthing…. I studied him in that moment and got a bigger picture of Mr. Hütz, our ‘Genio’ — it was almost scary, the calmness… it was like stumbling onto a wolf in the woods and gazing into its eyes… was I matching his breathing? Was he as fascinated as I was? Certainly he won’t attack…. and then he was off again! Eugene Hütz might play the jester well, but this man is no jester…
Encore was almost like a whole new set, and when they started it off with ‘My Companjera’ I almost had a complete & sultry stroke! I’d been waiting for it the whole night! ahhh, sweet completion… so after almost 2 hours of gorgeous audible assault, and a few bruises, the lights went up, and off we went into the wintry night…

…and this was just the first night!! Second night I tried ombred blue extensions, with success, and while I was quite pleased, that wasn’t even the highlight of the evening! [she exclaimed with witty sarcasm…]

gogol 3There was a certain buzz in the air Saturday night that wasn’t there Friday… it was almost like the duende that was dancing around with us Friday night brought his tricky little pals for the real party! Those duendes can never pass up a gypsy party! I didn’t realize this was even possible, but whatever we experienced the night before was quadrupled Saturday night — the boys were on a mission. Song after song, brilliant! Each better than the one before, the encore was like a whole new show! Even with a tender moment with lovely Elizabeth, as this was her literal last show with the band… during an embrace, Eugene asked her if there was a song they hadn’t done yet that she wanted to do… she was a little flustered and couldn’t think of anything, but later regrouped, and before we knew it we were caught up in a delightfully violent & extended rendition of ‘Immigraniada’ “we comin’ ruffah, every time”.
It had to wind down at some point however.. even Eugene made mention of the incredible energy, and it pleased our Gypsy King… and once again, when the lights went up and the bouncers kicked us out, we his loyal subjects spilled out into the frosty night to stumble back to our lives…  at one point during our walk back to the METRO, Elena & I, drenched in sweat– our own & others’– looked at each other, grinned & said “what just happened??”
So I’m writing this Monday evening, having had 2 full days to decompress and load up on gallons of vitamin c-infused water, my voice has been reduced to a sexy rasp [hello boys…] but I’m feeling a bit bummed — could this be what postpartum depression is like? I don’t think I like this… it’s not me at all!  haha  In the meantime, however, in the back of my mind I’m sorting out what I’ll be wearing next year, and its inevitable turning to ‘purple’, because mark my word, we WILL be attending the after party. I better brush up on my Russian… 😉
Wow ! ..just WOW ! A night out with Ms Mac has joined my list of things to do before I am too old to Rock & Roll. Thanks to John Shore for his kind permission to use his brilliant photos of the gig. You can find more of his work at If you are ever at the 9.30 club in Washington keep an eye out for Gigi. She’s the one with the sexy rasp who looks like Natalie Cole !