Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gogol Bordello at Webster Hall

I can't be the only person whose sense of social snobbery is most finely attuned in the mosh pit. Because I don't mind getting sweaty and bruised and crushed... as long as it's in the right company. They don't have to be beautiful (though that helps, if we're going to be breast to shoulder blade for the duration) but they do have to be into it. And have the right sort of facial hair.

As the support act took up their drums I did a quick reconnaissance. Surprisingly, given the band's late nineties vintage, there were groups of boys who barely looked in their teens - at least that's how it seemed to my tired old eyes. There were overgrown hobbity types and overweight men in European sports shirts, groups of students and thin girls with wild hair and a certain way of dancing with their eyes squeezed shut. I suspected we might have been the only ones who'd finally got round to downloading their albums the night before.

Once the main act came on stage, the mustachioed front man slugging from a bottle of wine, our carefully calibrated positioning went all to shit in the surge of the crowd. At one point we're close enough to the stage to feel the reverberations of the cymbals, but as the lengthy encore frenzied the crowd again and again we're gradually pushed inwards and backwards. After a slow, acoustic start the music is one incalzando after another, and although my feet are still jumping to the beat inside I'm shamefully begging the band to stop, to release us all, before we dance ourselves to death like fairytale villains. Yet when they finally do stride off the stage, the music coming from the speakers feels as thin and unsatisfying as gruel.

In the queue for the cloakroom we get one last encounter to take away with us. Taking advantage of a chaotic system, two ripped Jersey boys try to push in.
A man with a beard and a beer-belly taps one on the shoulder.
"Hey, you know that's not the line, right?"
One of the guys mutters something, but his opponent is not going to let it ride.
"Yeah, obviously it's A line. But not THE line. We're all waiting here."
"We've been waiting too."
"Well, you'll have to wait a little longer. Like the rest of us."
The two Jersey boys look at each other, shrug, and join the back of the line.
Half an hour later they're still talking about it.
"We could have had him. He must have been shitting himself. We would have, well, but we didn't want to cause hassle with you ladies around."

Chivalry lives on in the East Village.

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