Gogol Bordello and DeVotchKa get super-premium at First Ave
|Photo by Nick Vlcek|
Having missed the first band, we forded our way into the already humid mass of flesh congregated within the black walled hall, hoping to find somewhere reasonable to stand, but alas we watched the majority of DeVotchKa's set peering over tall shoulders on the second floor balcony. Their act was a subdued and pleasantly melancholy one, focusing more prominently on the intricate melodies and were packing many classically found instruments such as the violin, double bass, sousaphone (tuba) and of course the outstanding work of lead singer Nick Urata, who also performs with guitar, theromin, piano and trumpet readily at hand. Their unique blend of Eastern-European, Bolero, Mariachi and American roots music, was at times soothing, then quickly juxtaposed with a more American punk vibe and a faster tempo all conjuring up a different time and place. All tied together and thrust primarily by the heart-ached bellows of Urata. They brought a delightful and most needed calm before storm that followed.
|Photos by Nick Vlcek|
They started the night off with those well worn favorites off their Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike album of 2005 and the response was just as expected: in came the big dudes with no hair or mohawks toward front and center stage, then the shoving begins, next the band gears up for the down beat of the chorus, all hell breaks loose as the entire front half of the crowd begins to simultaneously jump and pump their fists into the air, swelling and heaving in a mass of energy not often seen. It continued this way for the majority of the night, but especially on those cult favorites such as "Not a Crime" and "Start Wearing Purple", yet songs they've played every time through town previously were conspicuously absent, such as "Dogs Were Barking", "Alcohol", and the tradition of dropping the mic into a fire bucket and playing with a drumstick at the end of the night. While it didn't feel like we the crowd were slighted in the least, as for once they focused half their set on the their newest and what sounds to be a pretty solid album Transcontinental Hustle, which isn't even out yet (April 28th).
In all it was what we've come to expect: a lot of sweating, the biggest mosh pit you'll probably see in town, a lot of great ethnic punk music, a small Hispanic man riding a bass drum in the crowd, crashing cymbals, spraying water bottles, accordion and violin solos, a lot of "HEY'S" and "ya-dah, ya-da-da-da-dah" sing-a-longs and much more. It will be my last show at First Avenue for years to come and my last show for City Pages as I'm leaving town for Portland in a month. Just like that little guy on the drum, it's been a hell of a ride and I thank you for letting me share it with you. Very super-premium indeed.