With their aggressive, lively, and unconventional take on traditional Eastern European music, the self-described "gypsy punks" in Gogol Bordello put the term to good use Wednesday night before a packed audience at the Electric Factory.
Local act Man Man took the stage first. Long known for their exuberant shows, the five members took over the stage with their instruments, personalities, and singular, raucous, cacophonous, experimental rock.
"This is one of the weirdest bands I've seen in my life," one concertgoer said to her friend. Man Man had just finished a tune that inspired nearly half the floor both to form a mosh pit and to start bodysurfing. Lead singer Honus Honus (né Ryan Kattner) alternated between howling lyrics and pounding at a Rhodes piano. Drums, saxophone, marimba, xylophone, euphonium, and toy keyboard filled in the background, with band members frequently switching instruments. Although it wasn't even 9 p.m., the venue was nearly filled, and a good majority of the people were Man Man fans.
After Man Man concluded their set with a handful of glitter thrown over the crowd, the members of Gogol Bordello took the stage, all except for the wild-eyed, mustachioed front man, Eugene Hütz. As clapping in the club got louder, he finally bounded on stage, a Flyers cap covering his unkempt hair, and launched into "Tribal Connection" from the band's 2007 album, Super Taranta!
For the next hour, Hütz regaled the Electric Factory with songs that combined minor-key gypsy waltzes, modern hip-hop MC-ing, hard-core screamo, and straight-up rock. The main floor was moving, swaying, or moshing, and bodysurfing was nonstop through the night as the band plowed through such favorites as "Wanderlust King," "Break the Spell," and "Start Wearing Purple," bringing Man Man's Chris Powell and Billy Dufala on stage for "American Wedding."
When it came time for an encore, the band was happy to oblige. Though some of the crowd went home, most stayed happily for the next half-hour as Gogol Bordello sang an additional four tunes. Finally, with Hütz still taking swigs from the bottle of wine he had opened at the beginning of the set, the show ended with a rendition of "Alcohol." Hütz began solo, with his acoustic guitar, before accordion and violin joined him in a mournful yet vivacious sing-along for the entire club.