Last night, Eugene Hütz and his merry band of vagrants—collectively dubbed Gogol Bordello—passed the halfway point in their three-night residency at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl. After their long years on the road, the three days at their makeshift campsite on the East River is probably the longest time that these gypsy punks have stayed in one place. Whatever restless energy Gogol Bordello had, they released onstage with assistance from opening acts Balaklava Blues and Crazy and the Brains.

Gogol Bordello had an eventful year that featured tours down both coasts of the United States, venues across Europe, and even a secret show in Ukraine solely for the soldiers of the resistance. Several members of the Ukrainian military were in attendance last night and Eugene presented them as heroes that deserved the audience’s applause and admiration. Just like during the rest of the Solidaritine Tour, the show was laden with the theme of Ukrainian independence, calling for support and compassion for his native war-torn homeland, where the beleaguered survivors hunker down in shell-shocked cities without electricity and will soon battle an ancient enemy, the approaching winter.

The lengthy set felt more like a revolving door for guest appearances than a traditional performance from the usual lineup. The frantic chaos kicked off with “Sacred Darling” the first track off 1999’s Voi-La Intruder before uncorking mayhem—and Hütz’s first bottle of red wine—during a screaming hot take of “I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again”. After drinking some and spraying most of the now-empty bottle of wine, Eugene held the troupe’s position on 2005’s Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike and began marching down the album’s track list with “Not A Crime” and “Immigrant Punk” performed consecutively.

An untraditional, bouncing reggae tone ditched the GPS instructions and opted for the scenic route for the fan favorite “Wonderlust King” before embracing the desperation of a hopeless romantic during “My Companjera”. Introducing the first guests of the night, Eugene welcomed Victoria Espinoza and Kay Bontempo from tomorrow’s opener, Puzzled Panther, to a packed stage for a rowdy rendition of “Fire and Ice Floe” off 2022’s Solidaritine.

Hütz introduced the next song as a “Ukraine Folk song, mother f*cker!” before kicking his spurs into “Suddenly… (I Miss Capatry)”. Between songs, Eugene verbally renounced Russian influence with the announcement that “Odessa is Ukraine, yo!” and launched into “Passport”, the cautionary tale of a hellish experience crossing a border.

Returning to their most recent release, Gogol Bordello lamented the spectacular death of the attention span with “Focus Coin” before thanking the venue owner and legendary music promoter, Peter Shapiro, and acknowledging that “it is because of people like Pete that music exists.” Gogol Bordello combined two classic songs as “Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground” broke down into a “Tribal Connection” reprise. After they finished where they started, Eugene ended the song with a derisive “Mr. Putin, go f—ck yourself.”

Another guest added his violin to the motley crew’s sound for a salute of Ukraine’s civil defense with an aggressive, stomping, punch-you-in-the-face, soldier’s anthem, “Teroborona” featuring entirely Ukrainian lyrics.  The guest violinist battled Professor Sergey Ryabtsev for first-chair in an epic duel before calling truce and marching onward—with assistance from Balaklava Blues’ Marichka Marczyk—into “Forces of Victory”.

Eugene slung an acoustic guitar over his shoulder to furiously shred “Trans-Continental Hustle” and stayed on 2010’s album of the same name for a riotous romp through “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)”. A crowd surfer made his way onstage and did a celebratory dance before diving back into the sea of outstretched hands (with the help of a polite kick in the ass from Hütz).

The mosh pit maintained intensity through a polka-infused Molotov cocktail of “Mishto” as Eugene stripped his shirt, revealing his sweaty, gaunt frame, to pour the second bottle of wine into his mouth, on his body, and on the front row of the audience. His mismatched patchwork, checkered pants—likely antiquated artifacts from the crust punk scene of NYC in the ’90s—the only layer between him and his rawest form. As always, the distinguished showman gave his all during his theatrical performances.

After a raucous version of “Think Locally, Fuck Globally” begat an entirely Spanish first verse of “Start Wearing Purple” from Pedro Erazo, Eugene stepped to the front stage to execute the beloved tune.  Winding down the lengthy set, the sawing violin rhythm of “Sally” dropped into a rare performance of “Pala Tute”. Covering the English rockers, the Angelic Upstarts, Gogol Bordello ended its set with the call of brotherhood, “Solidarity”.

Bordello’s frontman returned to the stage alone to dish out a cover of the Lower East Side’s punk rockers, Agnostic Front’s catalogue, “Victim of Pain”. In recent tradition, Eugene swapped out the closing lyrics to “Why am I going insane? Why am I the one to blame? It’s cause I was born… in Ukraine.”

The middle-aged veteran of the road then proceeded to stack speakers and monitors and climbed the unstable tower to belt out a visceral version of “Alcohol” before the rest of the band joined in to build up and conclude the song in tumultuous magnificence. To finish off the second show of the residency, Gogol Bordello performed a lengthy “Undestructable” finale to celebrate the resiliency of the Ukrainian fighters who have resisted Putin’s forces for much longer than his advisors expected. A massive bass drum was held by the audience as Eugene climbed atop and waved the Ukrainian flag proudly in an amazing display of balance.

Gogol Bordello returns to the stage tonight for what will surely be a wild ride full of debauchery and shenanigans from Eugene as he continues to flip the double bird toward the Russian invasion both lyrically, in his banters between songs, and quite literally. Gogol Bordello will be joined by openers Murphy’s Law and the NYC locals Puzzled Panther. Have fun, be safe, and Happy New Year’s, everybody.

Setlist: Gogol Bordello | Brooklyn Bowl | New York, NY | 12/30/22

Set: Sacred Darling, I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again, Not a Crime, Immigrant Punk, Wonderlust King, My Companjera, Fire and Ice Floe, Suddenly… I Miss Capatry, Passport, Focus Coin, Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground > Tribal Connection > Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground, Teroborona, Forces of Victory, Trans-Continental Hustle, Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher), Mishto, Think Locally, Fuck Globally, Start Wearing Purple, Sally, Pala Tute, Solidarity (Angelic Upstairs)

Encore: Victim in Pain (Agnostic Front), Alcohol, Baro Faro / Undestructable