Gogol Bordello The Drake Hotel, Toronto ON - February 15, 2006

Gogol Bordello The Drake Hotel, Toronto ON - February 15, 2006
Given the frantic word of mouth that preceded this show, it was clear that the Drake's basement rumpus room would be inadequate to contain the Slav punks' long-deferred return to Toronto. Electrified delirium barely describes the level of anticipation in that room (properly amped up by ideal local openers Lenin I Shumov) and intimate is too polite to convey the crush of the crowd once Eugene Lutz and his freak Bordello hit the stage. In that tiny room, the front row had an unsettlingly intimate view of every snarl, gyration, mole and hair follicle on Lutz and the two dancer/percussionists, especially since he stripped off his shirt ten minutes into the show and persisted in walking onto the shoulders of enthusiastic fans throughout the set. Gogol played their inexplicable hit, "Start Wearing Purple," early on in the evening, and despite the room's sludgy sound, hysterical cheers greeted violinist Sergey Ryabtsev's every turn at the mic, accordionist Yury Lemeshev's every eyebrow waggle, and Pamela and Elizabeth's gleeful screeches and strap-on washboard action. The recent reggae infusion into Gogol's sound goes some way towards explaining the odd abundance of skaters and college dorks (not to mention the attempt at a mosh pit), but the crowd was far too eclectic and predisposed to clapping/stamping/dancing to let the frat vibe overtake the wedding party atmosphere.