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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Throw Another Blog on the Fire

'sup? (head nod)

Sorry 'bout that. I'm preparing myself for tonight's fifth and potentially final game of the thus far catastrophic Red Sox-Indians ALCS and need to get into full-on "dude" mode. I know you folks hate when I talk about sports, but does anyone else think the Cleveland fans bedecked in cartoonish red-face is just a bit offensive?

92950e2c662547bf8806edcfb242db60 The debate over whether or not it's acceptable to use Native American stereotypes and imagery in sports is nothing new, but this is ridiculous. Why not just write something like "We Have 'Reservations' For The World Series" on the sign to complete the ensemble? As if I needed another reason to hate Ohio. Sigh . . .

Anyway, the real point of this post was to direct you toward Eva Sollberger's "Stuck in Vermont" Vlog. Her latest effort is a nifty video from last weekend's Gogol Bordello show in Montpeculiar. I was all set to espouse my own thoughts on the evening, but then Eva went and rocked my world and pretty much said it all. Check it out.

I will add this, though. The last time I saw Eugene Hutz perform was with The Fags at Club Toast in front of maybe 30 people. That had to be a good 10 years ago. To see him now, holding a crowd of 800 people in the palm of his hand, was remarkable.

At the moment, Phish and Grace Potter are the biggest things to come out of Vermont. By the time he's done, it might just be Eugene Hutz.



Someone called Rachel yesterday and told her that they turned on their XM radio and it was on the Fox Sports station, which was covering the Cleveland/Boston games, and they heard Rachel's song in the background! The words are, "I've been to Cleveland, and I don't want to return..." which makes me think someone working for Fox just googled "Cleveland song" and came up with Rachel's song. So listen carefully while watching the game tonight.

And don't think I haven't given her shit about unknowingly supporting Cleveland.


Despite disagreeing with everyone in Eva's video regarding the show, that's a fun video. I particularly like the shot she got of Eugene cheering for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Project.

While it was fun to watch all of the energy in the room, I didn't care for GB. They're too staged and choreographed for me. And regarding Eugene, perhaps my impression is wrong but I get the feeling he's driven by a desire for fame rather than art. It's all about furthering his career than creating anything artistic. If he wrote a one-hit wonder like "American Pie", he would have zero qualms with trotting back-and-forth across the country playing it 250 nights a year and then setting up residence in Branson to play it a few more times.

I'm confident he'll be famous someday but I doubt he'll ever be much of an artist.


I have to agree with Murf on that one.


isn't he just a musical Borat copy?


Or perhaps the "Yakov Smirnoff of indie rock"?


"In former Soviet Ukraine, carbaret tinged gypsy-punk plays you!"


Do I detect a bit of jealousy? An old hometown-hero splits town, figures out how to be successful doing what he wants to do, puts in the leg work, maybe gets a lucky break or two, meets the right people, has great on-stage presence and charisma, but you piss on him for not being artistic. What's wrong with trotting around playing a song that becomes popular for people who want to hear it? It's too bad some people are so jaded they can't just be happy for somebody succeeding at making a living playing music without pointing out why what they are doing is selling out. If I wanted to make a living from music, I would jump on that bus and play the fuck out of some pop song (well, within reason) every night of the week. If Madonna asked me to be in her movie, I sure a shit would sign on. I've play some cheesey-ass music at weddings and parties (though I'm lucky enough to play mostly fun wedding gigs), but it's pretty nice to get a big fat check equivilent to a week's worth of 9-5 schlepping for 4 hours of work. It's not ART, but it beats line cooking.


Amen, Tyler.

Why should we assume that it is Eugene's desire to be an artist? Or perhaps it should be Artist with a capital A. My impression of GB is that they are entertainers and clearly quite good at it. And by the way, most bands do play the same songs night after night when they go on tour, whether or not the one of the songs is a hit.

Additionally, Murf, maybe it is MONEY not fame that he seeks. As do all of us who are not hunter/gatherers.

I work for wedding bands and I'm going to work 60 days this whole year (and have access to an open bar every single one of these days). This leaves me 305 days in which to be an Artist if I so choose. I don't care how many times I hear "We Are Family" at work, I'm just happy I don't work in a coal mine.


i agree with tyler, too... i dont know much about gogol but i like eugene... and i think he's quite talented


Tyler, my comments aren't tainted by jealousy. They're simply an explanation of why I don't care for GB. Most people at the show had a whiz-bang time. However, I don't like musicals and that's what I felt like I was watching. Lots of choreography and lavish costumes. I prefer more authenticity in my shows.

As for Eugene specifically, the guy is free to pursue fame as much as anyone. However, I'm also free to stand up and say, I don't like the guy's music and his unblinking desire for celebrity. He doesn't need me as a fan and I don't need him in my iPod. However, this is a discussion forum so I'm throwing my two cents in.

MSD3K, that's fine to chase a paycheck but chasing a paycheck doesn't mean I have to like the guy's band.

JB, I don't know Eugene and he might be a fine guy and highly talented. However, the persona he is projecting is coming through as a guy who wants to be personally well-known rather than creating something that is well-known. As someone who doesn't know him, I'm simply reacting to that persona.


How does choreography belie artistry?

I have no idea what motivates Eugene nor do I really care. But his stage persona didn't seem terribly different from his days in The Fags — when he was widely regarded as one of the more talented performers/artists in town. Then again, I also seem to remember him being regarded as an arrogant prick. Having never spoken to the guy, I'll leave that one alone.

Is it possible that he's motivated by fame and/or fortune? Sure. But he's not doing anything that 95% of the musicians in Burlington wouldn't jump at the chance to be able to do: nail Madonna . . . I mean, um, make a living playing their music.

I happen to really dig Gogol Bordello and thought the theatrics were great. I'd much rather watch their antics than some melodramatic indie band trying to pass of tired stage poses as "passion." At least GB is fun.

Murf, if you don't like musicals, don't ever see Stars live. I caught about half their set at Higher Ground a few nights ago and honestly thought that a group of theater geeks from Degrassi Junior High decided to form a band and knock off Arcade Fire. Blechhh!


Dan, I saw the Stars show also and while it wasn't spectacular, I enjoyed it more than the GB show. Regarding the "drama" from Stars on stage, I tend to agree with you and before the show, I posted that I thought their publicity persona was "hideously pretentious" and a "cooler-than-thou ego trip". However, I like their music more than GB and at least they were willing to deviate from the script when the female lead persuaded the band to try a song they had never done live before. It was sort of a sucky song but at least they weren't automatons on stage.


yakov smirnoff was really a Russian. I think.


I enjoyed Stars new album, but their live show left me feeling dirty. So very dirty. I also nearly had an epileptic seizure from their obnoxious light show. And I don't even have epilepsy.

I'm all about lavish lighting and smoke machines. But is it really necessary to aim the light directly at the unsuspecting eyeballs of your audience? Maybe it's a Canadian thing. Or maybe they named the band after what you see for the next three hours following one of their shows.

I suppose it's all a matter of taste, but I found GB's act to much more genuine than Stars.

And maybe that's the bottom line: they're both "acts." Stars chooses magniloquent theatrics while GB goes with punk pomposity. But it's all for show, which is kind of the point anyway.


I agree 100% with you regarding the light show. Bands don't want the fans using flashes to photograph them but these knuckleheads burned the retinas of 400 of their fans. Secret Machines trotted out those same lights but I felt there were twice as many of them. It was quite the squintfest.

The only thing that made me feel dirty about the Stars show was the presence of so many 13-15 years olds at the show. Wasn't it a school night or something? I'm 39 but felt like I was 139 at that show.

All that said, I still enjoyed the music and felt the new stuff sounded better live than it did on the album. The synthy sound was less prominent live.


Day in the day, Eugene was a riot! And a decent, funny sometimes sweet young man. Like all of us, sometimes an asshole as well. There were a ton of great bands back then and while I didn't really understand anything Eugene was saying, his band "the fags" was one of them. That is not a point that is open for debate.

By the way, "GB" stands for Gorilla Biscuits.

Gogol is not my bag either, but there is no denying his talent and passion now just as you couldn't deny it then. .
You're right you have every not to "like his band, but don't be small and hate on the guy.
Good Luck Eugene and take care.


P.S., Dan... Go Sawks!


I've seen Gogol Bordello enough times to not need to see them again for a while (Murf, you're right about the choreography - every show is basically the same). I also thought it seemed like whoever put on the Live Earth thing said to Eugene and his fiddle player, "Hey, dance around all gypsy-like and babble incoherently," so they seemed like parodies of themselves.

That said, I think it would be great to make a living putting on such an energetic show every night, even if the choreography is the same (hey, look at Broadway... right? RIGHT?!), and good for him for finding a mostly untapped niche.

AND if you don't respect Eugene very much as an artist but would like to give him a chance to win you over anyway, you should listen to his Fresh Air interview. I thought it was really interesting.


I gotta agree with Dan, it was amazing to see Eugene command that crowd of 800 people. And afterwards, people were HIGH off the energy - punch drunk and bathed in sweat. It is hard not to appreciate his passion and the effect it left on the audience.

Yes, it had a whiff of Broadway to it but it also had a raw streak of balls out joy. Rare and refreshing. Good on him.

And good on Ed and his Montpelier crew for making it all happen. That was the best part of the night for me.


Man, I just barely realized that Dan Bolles was in the Skamamphrodites, now I find out that the same dude from The Fags is that lunatic stage front for Gogol Bordello. This has been a much more enlightening Solid State session than usual -- KEEP FIGHTING THAT BASEBALL TEMPTATION, DAN.


Ed here - thanks for the props, Eva, and thanks to everyone who came out to the show to make it a success.

As for the theatrics, sure, alot of it is staged - virtually every band (w/ the exception of the high-end improv or jam genres) stages their show. And no doubt Eugene is driven by fame - that much is obvious. But, ya gotta admit, the guy and his band give 101% on stage, and the energy is unique and infectious. I've seen countless shows in my life, and I have not see the kind of energy gogol puts out since I saw Jane's Addiction in '89, or Nirvana in '90 (before they made it big). All the melodramatic indie rock like Stars just ain't for me, but I'll take a show that absolutely kicks your ass like Gogol any day of the week - it's like two hours of fun rough sex - I've seen them 3 times and would not hesitate to see them again.

The world needs more groups w/ balls that can deliver a ferocious, intense live show...w/ good songs...and that's why I like Gogol Bordello.

Glad the show could generate so much discussion - pretty cool...


And Dan, btw, yes, the Cleveland Indians have by far the most racist symbol in sports. Even the Washington Redskins and Chicago Blackhawks have dignified Native American warriors as logos - The Indians have a dopy looking smiling native American that is like the Indian version of Amos and Andy. Could a team be called the Negros w/a smiling little black sambo as their symbol - no way, but Cleveland has been able to do the same w/ a parody of a Native American. It's pretty freakin' shameless...


"Fame" is how you get people's attention. Anyone who works in art and doesn't operate with a continually larger audience in mind is pretty much jerking off, don't you think? Are we still going through the "more-obscure-than-thou" punk stuff?

I mean, the people who run the media LOVE that. By all means, be obscure, bitch about "sellouts", and police your scene while contributing nothing worthwhile. That just means more bandwith for American Idol.

"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art."


Yeah, As a former "little Indian", I have a hard time with changing team names just to placate a ethinic group's hurt feelings. If it is done with reverance and respect, you'd think native Americans would be proud. However, the Cleveland logo is over the top and it is time for it to go.


Yeah... Stars were total crap, I felt. The Degrassi thing is right on. I got the exact same impression from Wolf Parade and Holy Fuck. To be fair, Holy Fuck were really, really, really good and that sort of justifies the indie-hipper than thou BS. Sort of. But Wolf Parade carried themselves around like the great secret you weren't cool enough to be in on, yet (I thought) totally ate it on stage. If it wasn't for Feist I might even go on a anti-Canadian music bash recalling my hate days of Bryan Adams.
Gogol are great live. The records all blend in for me, though. I wonder how many people have bad knees the next day from bobbing up and down to that (relatively same) beat. It works, though. I remember at Bonnarro everybody shuffling away from shit sets by Tom Morello and Keller Williams and gathering around Gogol, who promptly saved the day.

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