Going Crazy for Gogol

Gogol Bordello is a self-proclaimed "gypsy punk" band, and there's an inherent amount of shtickiness that goes along with that. Gogol doesn't shy away, going completely over the top - they employ three hype men after all. (Actually, two are women, wearing outfits very similar to those sported by the Charm City Roller Girls a few hundred yards away.) The band's music is a multi-cultural melting pot of mayhem, heavy on violin and accordion, but it's the unlimited energy supplied by frontman Eugene Hutz that brings it all together.

Shirtless, "Pirates of the Caribbean" hair, handlebar mustache - he certainly looks the part and his fierce-but-playful growl is perfect for the nonsense anthems he sings. The infectious nature of the band's raucous rumble helped me witness more awkward dancing since some ska show I went to in high school. It was also responsible for the day's first crowd surfer (1:57 p.m. for those of you keeping score). Gogol doesn't have a single subtle element to what it does, making the band custom made for a festival like this. They will probably make more new fans today than any other act.

As is often the case at festivals, though, some of the most entertaining moments have nothing to do with the music. During Gogol's set one guy thought it'd be a good idea to climb on top of one of the mini-sheds about 15 rows back from the stage in order to get a better view. The stage crew immediately signaled for him to get down. He didn't see them. Then local celebrity/9:30 club staffer Josh stood up tall, pointed at the shed climber and pointed down as if to say, "If you don't get down this second, don't doubt I will come out there and get you down myself." If you know Josh, you know that's not something you'd want to happen. The climber's friend quickly pulled him down.

--DAVID MALITZ

By David Malitz |  August 9, 2008; 2:11 PM ET Virgin Festival
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