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Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

by Yasmine Shemesh In Hebrew, chutzpah means “brazen audacity.” As such, it’s fitting that the term would be the namesake…

Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello don’t look back after 20 years

Saturday 18th, May 2019 / 11:46
By Jennie Orton

Photo by Daniel Efram

Nostalgia as a concept doesn’t register with Eugene Hütz as he stares down the barrel of his gypsey punk opus Gogol Bordello’s 20th Anniversary tour.

“First of all, I don’t really feel anything about that number. I forget all about that the first show we play on tour.”

The tour, which kicks off in Vancouver this month at the Commodore Ballroom, will be an on-the-fly gathering of like-minds for a sweaty celebration of what Hütz has described as the “propelling state of aliveness” he seeks and finds as a general life goal.

In other words, existential anxiety is no match.

“Hey I ain’t flexing,” he says with a signature matter-of-factness. “But this is not to be observed at any of our shows.”

Drawing an inspiration from Sonic Youth, Suicide’s Alan Vega and fellow punk and new wave acts that call New York home, Hütz has always aimed to create a vehicle to “transcend alienation.”

“It comes from living in a place where it’s very hard to connect with people and have any kind of community. Therefore your outreach must be extremely effective.

“I was born in a very gray brick environment of Soviet Union as a child. I had to colour my own book. And I became quite good at it,” Hütz says.

The Gogol Bordello catalogue reads like a how-to manual for colouring your own book. How to walk on the burning coal. How to start wearing purple. How to think locally and fuck globally. How to break into your higher self.

“I wouldn’t want to use the word ‘discipline’ because it is such a buzz kill, but some kind of personal method, be it meditation or your own version of meditation. And music has the power to kind of throw you into that condition really whole-heartedly and uncompromisingly,” Hütz says.

“Especially if it’s good music. But for a lot of people, even shitty music will do,” he laughs. “It’s the quickest way out from emotional turmoil.”

Perhaps this is why Hütz finds little draw in ideas like nostalgia; stagnant ideas that prevent one from truly growing.

“You start getting pulled in many different directions. It’s a reality test for anyone. In a way it’s kind of like a call to get your shit tight. To mobilize and see if you’re in it really as a lifer.”

Gogol Bordello is the closest thing any of us are going to get to running away with the circus. Catharsis comes quick and stays as long as they are on stage. Experience it enough and you may even be able to figure out how to take it with you when the lights go up.

Gogol Bordello play the Commodore Ballroom on May 24, 2019.