If Gogol Bordello is the Rolling Stones of gypsy punk, 17 Hippies must be their more literate Beatles counterpart. Berlin's "orchester spezial" plays a dizzying, high-energy mixture of French songs, English ballads and Eastern European rhythms that will you have you wondering what exactly you're listening to--as you tap your feet to it. But before proceeding any further, we must confront the name. There are only 13 musicians in 17 Hippies and none are hippies in the peace, love and flowers in their hair sense. One is called a hippie in Germany for half succeeding at any idealistic pursuit--like forming an acoustic folk outfit six years after the Berlin Wall fell and setting out to change the world armed only with a banjo, ukulele, accordion, trombone, trumpet, violin, cello, woodwinds, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, guitar, double bass, Indian harmonium and, from the sounds of it, kitchen sink.
Sat., Sept. 5, 8 p.m., 2009