GDFAF #7: Gogol Bordello / Bedouin Soundclash / Danko Jones (2/11/6)
I really, really didn’t want to go out. This was the seventh gig – halfway, therefore, with another seven nights stretching forebodingly ahead of me like the river in Apocalypse Now (since the last band will be Motorhead, I suppose that makes Lemmy equivalent to Colonel Kurtz). On top of this, tonight was due to be at The Academy, a place that vies with Winson Green for the title of ‘least pleasant enclosed space in Birmingham.’ I’ve ranted about it many-a time before, but to sum up quickly: It’s a huge atmosphere-less shell of a corporate venue, with poorly trained barstaff selling drinks watered down beyond recognition (they really are) for stupidly expensive prices (I have a self-imposed ban on buying any beverages in there. Back in January it was £3.10 for a pint of lagerwater), sticky floors, frequent bad sound, and a policy of charging bands to sell merchandise (disgusting). Still, when the bands you want to see are on there, what can you do?
This evening’s fun and laughter came in the form of The Eastpak Antidote Tour, an enterprise presumably designed to salute the valuable part played by American rucksack manufacturers in the history of popular music. Or maybe they just sponsored it and cynically wish to associate themselves with the things liked by teenagers while appearing altruistic, I don’t know. I’m not here to question anyone’s motives.
It must have been very early doors, since I got there before eight and found that not only had Disco Ensemble already been and gone (I can at least now continue to wonder if they were in fact a disco ensemble. I know they probably weren’t. I don’t want to check, I’m happier with the lie) and that Danko Jones was/were (I’m still not sure if the name refers to ‘him’ or ‘them.’ Henceforth singular, just for ease of writing) halfway through. He sure does talk a lot. On, and on, and on he went. You’d love to ask him to please, please, please stop talking – just for a little bit – and maybe even play a song, but you know that would only make him go on even more. It veered from ‘annoying’ to ‘comical’ and back again, mostly due to his voice – some young ‘uns standing near me were spot on when they shouted out “Duff Man!”, and then proceeded to become even more irritating than he was by shouting out the same joke about another ten times. If I take the same music:blathering-on-about-nothing-in-particular ratio in this paragraph as he did in his set, I’ve just about got time to say “AC/DC-ish rock, quite good.” Too much shooting the breeze, though. I couldn’t be doing with it. This is Going Deaf For A Fortnight 2006, baby, and time is money.
This was the third time I’d seen Bedouin Soundclash in less than a year and I was very surprised they weren’t headlining this, with their music having been used in telly adverts and whatnot. All the touring they’ve been doing has had a bad effect – they sounded a lot more ragged than either of the previous times I’ve seen them, and the singer’s voice was shot. This didn’t, to be honest, make them too much less palatable, but it’s a worrying sign. I don’t know whether it was a deliberate thing or an accident of mix that saw them not adopting the bass-heavy approach they used last time I saw them, but as a result they sounded a lot more like the Police-ish entity they are on record (now I think about it, it seems more likely that it was an unintentional last time around). Fun, although probably the least fun I’ve seen them so far.
So, it seems that Gogol Bordello are the new band of choice for an even wider span of demographics than I thought. Bloody good, though. I’d expected them to be excellent live and wasn’t in the least bit disappointed – their onstage behaviour mirrors their East European gypsy-folk-punk whatever-have-you music by being full of energy but also likeably shambolic. The singer (accompanied by his moustache, which is personality-filled enough to be considered a separate entity) lurches around, hoisting the microphone stand into the air and holding it over the accordion player’s head like a boom mic before staggering off to nearly trip over the drum riser. Two backing singers come dancers come washboard players bounce to the front of the stage, spitting a ‘lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala’ into the air with the speed and ferocity of a mini-gun before gesturing out into the crowd to illustrate… well, I’m not sure what, but I’m sure it was an important point. All the while the vivid swirl of colourful tuneage continues, the varied instrumentation adding no end to the hooks.
I’d love to see ‘em play a proper venue, but if they’re now as famous as they appear to be it looks like the ship has sailed on that one. Great set, whichever way up.
~ Russ L, not getting the urge to buy a backpack and thus assuming that the subliminal advertising failed.