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Gogol Bordello

There's a line in Gogol Bordello's 2002 song "Let's Get Radical" that goes something like this: "You know, Mother, some things are actually sacred, and tapping your foot to the ceremony just won't do." The tune is one of the New York group's more abrasive and melancholy (it actually begins with Eugene Hütz moaning, "Oh fuuuuck"), and it's not typical of the band's sonic approach. But that one line sums up the group's musical philosophy as succinctly as possible.

By straining the minor-key musical heritage of its Eastern European background through the smart-party sensibilities of its Lower East Side residence, Gogol Bordello has translated the relentlessly danceable music of its ancestors into relentlessly danceable (and politically charged) counterculture experimentalism. But the neat trick about what Hütz and company have done is they've made their musical heritage accessible to contemporary audiences without sucking any of the energy or historical context out of it. Gogol Bordello shows are powder-keg parties, with a velvet-rope line that stretches back to the Middle Ages.


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