Gogol Bordello’s frontman, Eugene Hutz, was born in Kiev to a Romany family which fled their home following the Chernobyl disaster when he was a teenager. He spent years travelling through Eastern European refugee camps before arriving in Vermont, in the north-east American region of New England, as a political refugee. He eventually established himself in New York as a musician and artist, and became the resident DJ at the Bulgarian Bar, Mehanata, which, thanks to Eugene’s ‘kidnapping’ of touring Romany and Gypsy bands and artists to perform there after their official seated concert hall shows, helped turn it into the ‘CBGBs of Gypsy Punk. Gogol Bordello formed after its original members met at a Russian wedding in Vermont, and soon snow-balled into a fully-fledged immigrant orchestra. Debut shows at famous New York venues, including the Mercury Lounge and the Bowery Ballroom, saw them banned for performances that were ‘too over the top’.
Gypsy music — in all it’s mutations — seems to be the new fad in London. Whether mixed with a bit of punk, jazz, classical or even breakbeat, it’s seeping into every nook and cranny in the city, and whatever the cocktail, the pace and eccentricity of the original sound means the sheer energy is inevitably retained.