Galactic,The Varsity, Baton Rouge, LA – 9/7
Growing up in the Big Easy, I’ve been blessed with countless opportunities to catch New Orleans’ own, Galactic. From their performances at New Orleans’ free Summer Concert series “Wednesdays at the Square” to their 2011 show in a torrential downpour at Atlanta’s Sweetwater 420 Fest, I have had my fair share of amusing adventures with the renowned masters of funk (along with most other genres).
Tonight, Galactic would be bringing their carnivalesque spectacle 80 miles west of their hometown to The Varsity Theatre. Located right outside the gates of LSU’s campus, the capital city’s premier music venue attracts a diverse crowd of music lovers ranging from long time Baton Rouge residents to college kids just looking for a good time within walking distance from their dorms.
As the crowd filled into the venue on this humid Louisiana Friday night, another fine New Orleans’ institution, Flow Tribe, opened up the night. Flow Tribes’ contagious and seemingly endless energy began to trickle through the crowd and had people dancing like it was Mardi Gras time in the Crescent City. Before handing the stage off to their predecessors, Flow Tribe treated the Baton Rouge crowd to a new, unreleased track “Fire on Esplanade”.
After a proper opening to the night, Galactic walked on the stage adorned with their bedazzled, disco ball-like G. The band decided to begin the night’s musical journey by taking the crowd to Eastern Europe as they played their take of world-acclaimed Balkan musician Boban Markovic’s “Mere Yaara Dildara.”
Rebirth Brass Band’s Corey Henry and Living Color’s Corey Glover once again joined the band for the show. The two bring immense talent and years of experience that lead to an explosive performance when they hit the stage with their close friends Galactic.
The highlights of the first half of the show were the two tracks off of Galactic’s 2003 album Ruckus. Drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio commanded the stage as Corey Glover released the gripping lyrics of “Bittersweet,” which was shortly followed by the “Bongo Joe.” ”Bongo Joe” provided the crowd with a funky mixture of blues and hip-hop. Ben Ellman supplied the striking harmonica line while Jeff Raines brought the bluesy guitar riffs creating the eerie vibe that comes with the tune.
The band then transitioned into Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” At this point, the crowd’s energy was off the charts as they provided fans with their own version of the 70’s hit complete with Corey Glover channeling his inner Robert Plant as he belted out the lyrics.
Galactic continued to blaze through their set list eventually inviting the ladies in the crowd to join them on stage for their heavily inspired hip-hop track, “From the Corner to the Block.” Shortly after the dance party on stage, the band treated the crowd with their classic jam, “Crazyhorse Mongoose,” which brought me back to my first Galactic experiences.
It wouldn’t be a Galactic show without an epic Stanton Moore drums solo, and tonight he did not disappoint. The crowd frenzied while New Orleans’ best drummer showed why he is one of the world’s elite musicians.
The band left the stage leaving the energized crowd wanting more. The concertgoers were pleasantly surprised moments later as the band appeared back on stage to perform Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Glover’s high range vocals were joined by the crowd’s screaming voices as they all sang the classic tune’s popular lyrics giving a fitting end to the night.
Overall, the evening was filled with a distinctive New Orleans funky flavor that left fans smiling and ready to keep the party going through the night. The vast talent of each member of Galactic is always evident, and the additions of Glover and Henry make for a talent packed stage of inspired musicians.