A week ago Sunday was much like any other Sunday in the Quarter and CBD. There were tourists buzzing around and not really caring about the humid dampness that accompanies a summer evening in the city that rarely sleeps. For music lovers, though, it was a night unlike many other nights.
There were two very different acts hitting the city: the LA post-punk group She Wants Revenge (SWR) were playing the House of Blues on the ten year tour of their self-titled debut and Gogol Bordello (GGBD) played the Joy Theater.
GGBD have been touring nonstop for several years now and their live sets are beyond energetic. If the band is standing still, the lights must have gone out or the venue must have pulled the plug. There are so many moving parts, it’s almost too hard to take it all in when you are up close.
SWR, on the other hand, have been in the post-punk scene for ten years now and have managed to create a somber, yet powerful stage presence. Justin Warfield (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Adam Bravin (bass guitar, keyboards, guitar, drum machine, percussion, programming, vocals) form the core of the band and are accompanied by a touring guitarist and drummer, who played the “house” kit for the night.
Their set was dark and moody, principals that have stuck from the beginning, and was highlighted by the band playing their self-titled debut in its entirety and ending the set with “Rachel,” an sort of anthem. The show itself was on the minimal side, but it worked with the context of the evening.
The always energetic GGBD covered every inch of the Joy Theater’s stage. The crowd and band were pumped up by an amazing opening set from Francis Edward “Frank” Turner. The English folk singer has deep rock roots and a huge command of the stage. I will definitely be looking for his return to town in order to see him again.
The set change between Turner and Bordello was a bit long, but it helped build up the audiences energy. In some ways, and I do not consider myself an expert on their music, their playing was almost secondary to the stage show and the experience that Eugene Hütz (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion) and company gave the audience. The single background/lead vocalist has been replaced by two talented vocalist, percussionist, and dancers, Vanessa Walters and Pamela Racine.
This was my third time seeing both bands, first shooting She Wants Revenge and third for Gogol Bordello (by far my favorite shoots of them so far). Both bands have managed to carve out notches in their prospective fields and still manage to keep things personable with their fans along the way. Meet and greets and post show gatherings may seem to be money grabs, and to the casual fan, that may be so, but those super fans get to have an experience that they may never have gotten. You can see more pictures of Gogol here She Wants Revenge here.