Gogol Bordello with Low Cut Connie – Live at L’Olympia – December 31st, 2016 – Montreal, QC

So, much like the rest of the world, I went out and partied on New Year’s Eve, and man oh man, did I hit the jackpot. It started with a casual stroll to a more than casual venue, simply titled L’Olympia. What a crazy cool colour scheme. It was all gold trim cast in red spotlights, reminiscent of the bygone era that was 1925. For all those reading this that weren’t alive at that time, picture a movie theatre, refurbished to fit into BioShock. Hanging high above the ground were two boat wheel-looking chandeliers, along with nets of balloons (which is my main phobia). Oh well; suffice it to say, I survived my fright to bring you this review, dear reader.

The night’s events kicked off with the five-piece band Low Cut Connie. Their singer, Will Donnelly, told us how much he loved us, begged us to have a good time, then began banging on the wooden piano situated at centre stage. What a helluva frontman that cat is. Between beating boogie woogie chord progressions, he threw his body around the piano stool. Dressed and sounding like a preacher, he did it all; he’d stand upon the stool, one-legged, while singing sultry melodies; he would cast the bench aside, a portrait of musical genuflexion. He was up, he was down, he was throwing himself around. At one point, he donned a guitar, stood on the piano, and launched himself out into the vast space of the stage. It looked like the dude was flying.

“Take that bullshit, all that bullshit and all that stress. I need you to take all that bullshit and shake that shit until it’s gone,” Weiner asked of us before launching into the soul splintering “Shake It Little Tina.” If there was a single person not dancing, I didn’t see it. The venue was pretty much pushing capacity at this point, and everyone was having a good time. This band made it very easy, especially the powerful sounds coming from drummer Larry Scotton; they were a pulsating rhythmic cacophony, matched only by the vicious Blue Oyster Cult-esk attack of the bar-rattling bass. It was a tune, and a sound as a whole, that Dean Winchester would be happy blasting from his Impala. It was a sonic propulsion of an already established genre. Low Cut Connie took a blanket of nostalgia and embedded it with quills; not the type to prick you, but the type to write home with.

After Low Cut Connie, we stood around for forty minutes while the headliners got everything set up. It was worth the wait. A large blue banner unfurled behind the instruments as the crowd went wild. It was blue and portrayed a bullet shattering an hourglass with all the sand run out. “Pura Vida Conspiracy,” it read. Gogol Bordello came out, one by one, and launched into “Art Of Life.” The crowd went nuts. By the second song, “I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again,” a pirate hat was thrown off stage and began making its way through the crowd. By the fourth song, “Immigrant Punk,” the crowd surfing and tossing of beer into the air was happening in earnest; even the entire balcony was awash in movement.

One great thing about this band is that everyone has their moments front and centre. They all move with a sort of controlled chaos. The member who stands at the forefront dances, cavorts, and generally draws all your attention, while the rest of the band is set in a pyramid pattern behind them. They all move, but the further back they’re stationed, the less they attract your eye. It was a very good model to witness. Make no mistake, this was no synchronised headbanging. Nope. It was systematic yet natural.

Probably my favourite part of the Gogol’s set was how Eugene Hütz was dressed like a pirate at an EDM concert. He was wearing blue and white striped pants with a neon scream of a polka dot shirt. It was all purple, punctuated with reds, whites and blues. After we rang in the New Year, complete with the obligatory balloons falling to the floor, he went shirtless; however, the lights flashing above him were the same colour as his previously discarded shirt. It was a small thing, and one I’m not sure many people noticed, but it was an amazing attention to detail. It is the little things, after all.

Another favourite moment of mine was when Sergey Ryabtsev stalked around at the front of the stage, dressed in the silhouette of the spotlight as he went about his violin solo. It was calm, it was collected, it was cheerfully adequate. He wasn’t the only one, however. They all had their share in the limelight, but Pedro Erazo made the most of his. Relegated to the congas for the majority of the night, when he took the mic and sang with Hutz, he was a caustic ball of interactive energy with the crowd. It was clear he loved what he was doing, and we loved him for it.

This was a show made for those who wish to enjoy their music with a side of theatrics. There were no pyrotechnics, nor crazy costumed monsters. Nope. There were just nine people, playing music and going nuts because they were having a good time. It rubbed off on everyone there.

One last thing of note: everyone was at the venue for a party; it was New Year’s Eve after all. With such lofty expectations, only the greatest show ever would be able to sate our palates… goddamn, did this show deliver. It may be a bit early, but I’m declaring this the greatest show that 2017 had(s) to offer. Think I’m jumping the gun? Come at me in the comments section below.

Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Kate Erickson

About Aaron Deck 84 Articles
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Aaron Deck, and he lived in a magical land called Near Halifax. He was quiet and thoughtful (Okay, loud and rambunctious), and learned the wondrous skill of playing piano at the age of 8. Once puberty hit, upon learning that piano isn’t considered ‘cool’, he quickly transferred over to the traditional art of playing Rock ‘n Roll guitar. In 2008, he migrated West to Montreal, where he has played in multiple punk rock bands, including the fantabulous Ol’ School Johnny. He was often not recognized to be part of the band when selling merch. He currently has a horror short story collection out called "14 Needles", available through Amazon. Oh yeah, and he sometimes has really rad living room dance parties.

2 Comments

  1. *I must note that it was not Adam Weiner who flew off his piano with a guitar strapped to him, but rather Will Donnelly who performed this amazing feat.

    I was taking notes on my phone at the time and missed most of said action.

    I apologise for any confusion this has led to.

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