Galactic @ Vogue Theatre, March 4
Galactic brought their Mardi Gras parade styled tour to Indianapolis’s Vogue Theatre for an authentic bayou blast of musical voodoo and hoodoo. Hot on the heels of their most recent release, Carnivale Electricos, the band rode into town ready to share fresh songs, special guests and their trademark sound with the near capacity crowd. Over the last decade and a half, Galactic has proven that their brand of New Orleans funk, with its blend of Brazilian, Jamaican and hip hop influences is a true crowd pleaser. From the opening drum roll by funk drummer supreme Stanton Moore, to the last blast from the horns of saxophonist Ben Ellman and trombone guru and special guest Corey “Bone Money” Henry the crowd was in their hands, as they tossed out tight bursts of funk like beads to the eager fans.
The city of Indianapolis itself was gripped with a surprising cold snap, with Mother Nature giving one last gasp of wintery weather to remind folks it was still, in fact, March. While outside the theater the cold winds blew, inside a warm glow was shared by the early arriving fans. Local act the Blue Moon Revue was on hand to further warm up the crowd with their blues, down and dirty sound. Fronted by guitarists Matt Marshall and Dave Sullivan, along with long time writing partner Andy Salge, the band showcased an emotionally charged set of fiery slabs of soulful tunes. Particularly impressive were the vocals of Marshall, who voice calls forth comparisons of Robert Cray’s earliest work. Members of Galactic could be seen in the stage wings, clearly enjoying their openers handiwork.
The crowd’s buzz grew louder and the anticipation became palpable throughout the club. It had been a year since the funk train that is Galactic had stopped in the crossroads city, and the people were clearly hungry for a heaping helping of hot licks and cool jams. Recent tour guests Henry of the grammy winning Rebirth Brass Band and Corey Glover, frontman of the band Living Colour, have become unofficial members of the band, and their contributions to the band’s sound pushed the night in exciting directions. Henry handled vocals for a portion of the night, while Glover’s powerful pipes made songs like Total Destruction of Your Mind and their bombastic cover of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir standout moments of the evening.
Despite their long running tradition of sharing the stage generously, Galactic is one of the finest ensembles to come out of the crescent city. With punchy bass lines provided by Rob Mercurio and slinky lead guitar lines from Jeff Raines, and a mixture of somber church leads and sloppy organ runs by Rich Vogel joining with the meaty horns and harmonica of Ellman combine into one of the most cohesive units on the music scene. These players meld their sonic efforts over the whip smart drumbeats of one of the finest percussionists to ever pick up the sticks, Stanton Moore. Numerous magazines, websites and polls find Moore at or near the top of the heap, Moore’s drum clinics are packed wall to wall by eager students and practiced drummers alike, eager to learn. His exuberance is legendary, an ear to ear smile plastered on his face throughout the show as he merrily smashes the skins. He has been know to rise up from his stool unconsciously, furiously crashing his cymbals with an insane gleam in his eyes of pure, mad joy. Moore is the motor that drives the band, and can shift into overdrive in zero seconds, leaving other bands sitting at the light.
Songs filled with the rolling party spirit of New Orleans festival season like Hi De Ka and Hey Na Na had the crowd grooving, with Henry being so taken by the spirit that he left the stage to roam the club, before ending in a call and response solo while standing on the Vogue’s bar. After a short break to catch their breath, Galactic came back out for a two song encore featuring a track off their new release, Ash Wednesday Sunrise, before giving the closing number to Glover for a truly epic rendition of his main band’s biggest hit Cult of Personality. Not to be outdone by Henry’s bar hopping escapades, Glover scaled the speaker stacks, letting loose every last ounce of force in his frame as he belted out the lyrics. While the band wailed through the final flourish, Glover thanked the crowd for their time, and thanked the band for having him along for the ride. The cheers and applause that lingered long after the band left the stage proved he spoke for the exhausted fans as well as himself.