Gogol Bordello

Tracie and I went to the Beaumont Club to check out Gogol Bordello. If you’re not aware of them, New York-based Gogol Bordello claims to be a “Gypsy Punk” band. Fronted by the unique Eugene Hutz, who starred in Everything is Illuminated alongside Elijah Wood, the band puts on a kinetic performance that could leave you exhausted just watching.

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Since I am now shooting for music blog PopWreck(oning), I was able to get in front for the first 3 songs with an official photo pass. To say it was my toughest assignment yet would be an understatement.

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The show was packed, much more packed than I would have imagined. The crowd was definitely alternative and punk, heavily tattooed and ready to mosh. My first realization of this was when 6 massive stage bouncers took to the front of the stage. One looked down at me and said “If I tap you on the shoulder, MOVE!”.

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With me that night was my Canon 20D with my 85mm 1.8 attached, and my 5D with my 24-70 2.8L attached. Both cameras were set to spot metering, tungsten white balance, 1600 ISO, aperture priority. To be safe, I was bracketing a full stop on the 20D. I would normally have put the 24-70 on the 20D and my 70-200 2.8L on the 5D, but that lens is at Canon now for repairs.

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The band took the stage like Kansas Citians take to a buffet. Game on. I perch down and try to get focused, but the lighting was awful. The basic setup was a bunch of red lights, with occastional full-on white lighting. The white balance was fine for the white lights, but the red lights leave everyone very, very red. Most of those shots are the ones in black and white.

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I’m used to shooting mildly-energetic indie acts: Singer-songwriters, power-pop, and the like. They’re 90% in front of their mic stand, 10% moving. Eugene Hutz is 93% running, 4% jumping, and 3% flinging sweat everywhere. I’m pretty sure he never stopped moving. In low light he was almost impossible to shoot. I was glad to have that f1.8 lens at times, but it needed to be much wider. When Hutz was 24 inches away, that 128mm (effective) lens was way too long.

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30 seconds into the first song, I get the first tap on the shoulder and was guided stage right. Seconds later a body comes flying over the barrier wall. I retake my spot and 30 seconds another tap and another flying body. 20 seconds after that a drink is in the air and it’s raining some liquid substance. Who knows.

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So Equene is everwhere, bodies are flying, and mysterious liquids are coming down. Did I mention this was a difficult shoot? Difficult, but a ton of fun. It’s these shoots where I’m glad I had everything set correctly before the gig starts.

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For the third song I go stage right just in time for a flying body that actually resists the bouncers. All 100lbs of this girl gave quite a struggle. The bouncers did an admirable job removing her without force, and an even more admirable job keeping a body from falling on me.

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After the 3 songs I retreated to the back where I found Tracie sitting. This is a show where you either are up close and moshing with the crowd or you’re way in back. Neither of us had it in us, so we were in the back, which at the beaumont means not much of a view. Oh well, I had mine.

-Nick Davis

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3 Responses

  1. Wonderful pictures (especially with how crazy everything got).

  2. Hey! You’re famous. I wanna be on PopWreck(oning)!!

  3. one of the bests concerts i´ve ever been mine was in madrid….
    ( i did got to see elijah wood there)

    want more gogol bordello

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