Musical traditions, like cuisine, say a lot about a culture. Pay attention and learn of pinnacles, invasions, conquests and declines. The recipe for great music and food is often the contradiction of outsiders celebrating their own lousy situation, mixing in ingredients that in different contexts might not make sense. New York’s Gogol Bordello has long been one of rock’s tastiest stews — a culture unto themselves.
Ukrainian-born bandleader Eugene Hütz’s thick accent (alongside oom-pah backbeats and instrumentation like accordion, fiddle and horns) gives the music an Eastern European feel. Stir in the combat rock of The Clash and a carnival atmosphere, and you’ve got something thoroughly American: a melting pot of sounds and flavors that speaks to striving, fighting, celebrating and mourning with the intensity of an immigrant — the intensity of down-and-out folks making a ruckus.
Formed in 1999, Gogol Bordello hasn’t put out a record since 2013’s Pura Vida Conspiracy, but the band has kept up a prodigious touring schedule.
Hütz sings on the track “Immigrant Punk” from arguably Gogol Bordello’s best record, 2005’s Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike — “Upon arriving to the melting pot/ I get penciled in as a goddamned white/ Now that I am categorized/ Officer gets me naturalized … Legalize me! Realize me! Party!”
And from “Immigraniada” off 2010’s Trans-Continental Hustle, Hütz sings: “Immigraniada, we comin’ rougher every time.”
Gogol Bordello rides the “Underdog World Strike 10th Anniversary Tour” wave to Eugene 8 pm Saturday, March 12, at McDonald Theatre; $25 adv., $28 door. All ages.