Waving a bottle of wine at the sweaty crowd, Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hütz led a contingent of enthusiastic slam dancers last night when the band opened for Primus at the Time Warner Cable Amphitheater.
The eight-piece gypsy-punk band put on an energetic set that came off in acts like a theater performance. Multi-taskers Pedro Erazo and Elizabeth Chi-Wei Sun served as cheerleaders, coaxing the audience to chant and fist-pump, while the remaining instrumentalists performed a very tight set.
The band transitioned from energetic songs like “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)” — which turned a hopping pit rough but friendly enough to accommodate brave girls in sandals — into more solemn tunes like “When Universes Collide.”
“Start Wearing Purple” received the biggest reaction, breaking the energy of the small, isolated pit out into the deep crowd hanging farther from the stage.
Soon after Bordello finished, chants of “Primus sucks” (it's a compliment, really) began. Wearing garb that must have come from the 1800s (except for guitarist Larry LaLonde, who was casual), the band was languid at first, opening with “To Defy the Laws of Tradition.” But the pit that burst across the middle of the amphitheater was proof that the audience was pumped, regardless of Primus' stoic demeanor.
The band seemed a bit rusty — well, at least their equipment was. During “
Johnny Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” Les Claypool had to swap his bass before the culminating riff hit. He picked up the song from the top and the crowd didn’t seem to mind.
Primus played much from their catalog, vamping through many pieces and hitting their stride on “Harold of the Rocks,” a great mix of powerful riffs and exploratory jamming.
While the band avoided many of their bigger hits, the show was a reminder of their talent and will hopefully meld guitarist Larry LaLonde and Claypool with recently reintroduced drummer Jay Lane as they gear up for a 2011 album release. —Adam Burroughs
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