Gogol Bordello brought Gypsy punk to the frontlines of the war in Ukraine with a secret show for the soldiers fighting off the Russian invasion. The band led by Kyiv-born singer Eugene Hütz performed a concert for roughly 50 uniformed Ukrainian soldiers at an undisclosed location near the frontlines of the war with Russia last week, according to a VICE World News correspondent who witnessed the concert.
From a stage adorned with sandbags and camouflage, Gogol Bordello performed alongside a backing band of members of the National Border Guard Service Orchestra. The international rockers have spent the six months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raising support for their homeland through a variety of benefit concerts, fundraising tours, and inspirational songs written for the men and women fighting back home.
“I really wanted to do this because it’s incredibly uplifting for fighters to see that Ukrainians around the world are one,” Hütz told VICE of the concert. “People in Ukraine hear a lot about world’s solidarity, but to see someone physically coming to them is when they actually believe it. Effort like that changes things tangibly.”
Related: Les Claypool, Eugene Hütz, Billy Strings, More Praise Zelensky As “The Man With The Iron Balls” [Video]
The setlist, which the Orchestra members practiced tirelessly ahead of the performance, featured some of Gogol Bordello’s most topical songs related to the war in Ukraine including “Teroborona” (the Civil Defense Units formed by Ukrainian civilians) and “Forces of Victory” alongside time-tested tracks like “Start Wearing Purple” and “Pala Tute”. Many of the songs will appear on the band’s forthcoming album, Solidaritine, out on September 16th. Solidaritine also shares its name with a tour Gogol Bordello mounted earlier this year to raise money for Ukraine.
“To see our songs being played so fiercely by soldiers and for soldiers was the greatest test of their worth,” Hütz said. “If you feel you want to participate in saving lives of Ukrainian people who are defending their peace and their motherland please donate to Razom For Ukraine.”
Watch Gogol Bordello perform for Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline of the Russian invasion, as well as a new music video for “Take Only What You Can Carry” featuring Ukrainian lyrics by poet Serhiy Zhadan.
“‘Take Only What You Can Carry’ encapsulates the emotional message of uprooted people whose lives were destroyed by this fucked up war in Ukraine,” the band said in a statement. “The idea was to bring 3 very different Ukrainian artists together responding to the situation ASAP. Oleksandra Zaritska of Ukrainian synth-pop group KAZKA brings cathartic justice to lyrics of Serhiy Zhadan, a punk rocker and Nobel Prize-nominated writer and poet from hard-fighting city of Kharkiv.”
Exclusive: We watched @GogolBordello play a secret gig in Ukraine.
VICE World News was in attendance as the international punks and their Ukrainian-born frontman Eugene Hütz performed an exclusive set for soldiers at an undisclosed location. https://t.co/MefBXXzf9Z pic.twitter.com/q6EoBiEWVY
— VICE World News (@VICEWorldNews) August 24, 2022
Gogol Bordello (ft. KAZKA) – “Take Only What You Can Carry” (UKR Version)