Gogol Bordello at Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville, TN

Gogol Bordello @ Brooklyn Bowl, Nashville | Photo by Zach Birdsong

Saturday night at Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville felt like a reunion, as there were stories shared, good laughs and good times galore for Gogol Bordello. 

While the headliners were familiar, it was opener Danny Kiranos, better known by his stage name, Amigo The Devil, to who some audience members were being introduced for the first time. The 45-minute set was chock full of new and fun stories that were nothing short of engaging. While Kiranos and his backing band may have been unknown heading into Saturday’s show, they didn’t leave that way. When it came time for the group to exit the stage, they did so to vigorous applause from the audience, and it’s easy to tell exactly why the Nashville crowd fell head over heels. 

There were no gimmicks with Amigo The Devil and instead, Kiranos relied on old-fashioned storytelling. He even joked that the crowd should have been afforded a bingo card to play along and mark with song topics. 

Throughout the evening, Kiranos was personable and quippy in some of his remarks to the audience, and the patrons responded by letting them know their approval. There were even times that he challenged the crowd. “If you feel like singing along, great,” Kiranos said. “If you don’t feel like singing along, change your mind.” After a chuckle, Nashville responded and repeated the words back to Amigo The Devil. 

Before leaving the stage, Kiranos thanked the Nashville audience and delivered a heartfelt message to the crowd. “We’ve played some [cover] songs that we’ve sounded stupid playing before. But, there is nothing as rewarding as getting to play songs we’ve never f******g played before, so thank you,” he told the Music City crowd. “Be good to people, but be better to yourselves.” 

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, it sent shockwaves and affected many around the globe, including Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hütz who was born and raised in Ukraine. Days after the war began, Gogol Bordello announced its Solidaritine Tour, where proceeds go toward Ukraine’s battle for democracy. The punk rock band also partnered with human rights organizations to help provide relief in Ukraine. 

Throughout the show, there were plenty of laughs and dancing. While there were good times, the message continued to circle back to the reason for the tour. There were moments when the Gogol Bordello singer would discuss his thoughts on Russia, even calling them “the biggest zombie farm in the world.” Most of the time, Hütz spent declaring his admiration and support for the citizens of Ukraine during this time, including before the band performed “Teroborona (Civil Defense).” “This one is for all my friends who are brilliant musicians, poets, and artists – girls, women, boys, men – in Ukraine who had to put down what they do,” Hütz said. “Instead of amusing people and being inspiring, they had to pick up duty in the civil defense units. They are defending the motherland from the f*****g bitch and fucking scum of the earth. Ukrainians are strong. Russia picked the wrong people to f**k with.” 

There was hardly a dull moment for Gogol Bordello’s nearly two-hour performance. Toward the back half of the set, the group began to perform some of their wider known tracks, including “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)” and fan-favorite “Start Wearing Purple.” 

After performing for nearly 90 minutes, the group took a quick breather before returning for five additional songs. Though the rest of the band would join Hütz on stage shortly, he began the encore with a cover of “Scratch the Surface” by Sick of It All, who released a new track in March to show their support for Ukraine. “When the war first started, the first people to react to it were people from hardcore and punk world music,” Hütz said. “It’s always like that, it’s never one of those fake-ass freedom fighters who like to just talk about it all the time. Exactly because of that, this is the next song from a great band who has never let one single person down since their existence.”

Following the acoustic performance, the rest of Gogol Bordello joined their singer on stage. However, Hütz would make his way into the crowd, riding a bass drum into the audience. While standing on the drum, a member of the audience handed him a Ukrainian flag, and he wore it around himself for the remainder of the show. 

Once returning to the stage, Hütz grabbed his acoustic guitar, and the members of Gogol Bordello and Amigo The Devil gathered for one final track. Kiranos and Hütz traded verses during a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “All You Fascists.” As the song concluded, the bands and their crew came together one final bow to the Nashville crowd before wishing the Music City audience a good night. 

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About Zach Birdsong 37 Articles
A current communications specialist with a background in journalism, where he served as a multiple award-winning newspaper editor, photographer and designer. In eight years, he received 18 awards from the Tennessee Press Association, the majority of which stems from his photography. He's also been fortunate enough to have had photos used by publications around the world including Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Today Show, Vanity Fair, Vogue Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and more.