That’s the thing about Galactic. If you ever feel like getting down Mardi Gras-style, jumping in a parade as it cruises down St. Charles Avenue, and it’s not springtime in NOLA, all you really have to do is go see the band live. The Crescent City natives have spent nearly two decades building a solid reputation for bringing the party with them wherever they go.
And now, with new album Carnivale Electricos centering around the infamous celebration, as well as its Brazilian counterpart, there’s just no chance of deviating from the plan.Wednesday night at the Belly Up proved just how accurate that assessment is.
The band took the stage in front of a packed house, with the Rebirth Brass Band’s Corey Henry leading the charge. The Grammy-winning trombonist directed the band in the brass-based banger, "Cineramascope," from 2010’s Ya-Ka-May. Within 30 seconds, everyone in the house was up and dancing.
By the next song, longtime Living Colour frontman Corey Glover was introduced. Having ditched the Body Glove wetsuit years ago, Glover wore a bright-red Flash Gordon sweatshirt, camo shorts and black Adidas while he handled the lion’s share of vocal duties for the evening.
I had mistakenly assumed that the singer was nowhere near the level he was during his MTV heyday, but I was wrong. Glover seemed to have only gotten better with age. His voice was far stronger and dynamic than it was when I saw Living Colour open for Guns n Roses and the Rolling Stones in 1989. (Although, to be fair, that was at the cavernous L.A. Coliseum) And it’s not as if a comparison was necessary, but the real proof came when opening band and brass ensemble, the Soul Rebels, joined Galactic onstage. The 15-man jam culminated in a funked-up, eight-horn version of Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality.” Despite only being halfway through the set, it brought the house down and sounded better than it ever had before (sorry. Vernon Reid).
I think the last time I got excited about a drum solo, I was a mulleted 17-year-old watching the first of Tommy Lee’s rotating kits on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour. But when it comes to Galactic’s percussionist extraordinaire, Stanton Moore, an exception must be made. Anything but excessive, his five minutes alone onstage were more than well spent, including a deftly executed section on bells.
And while most of the crowd looked confused for the first time all night when it happened, going from his solo into a cover of D’Angelo’s infidelity/revenge jam, "Sh*t.Damn.Motherf*cker.," was simply amazing. It not only set the stage for a rip-snorting end to the set that included a cover of "Kashmir" and Electricos best song, "Ash Wednesday Sunrise" -- anyone that covers D’Angelo is a-OK in my book.
Not to mention, Glover and the band also led the crowd in a strong rendition of the “Ola Ola Ay” chant from “Rollin’ With Kid n Play.”
But really, while it was all enjoyable, none of that kitschy stuff was even necessary. This is a band that knows how to get people up and moving. This is a band that knows how to keep the energy up and make sure that everyone leaves with a smile on their face.
And that’s exactly what they seemed to do on Wednesday night.
"Total Destruction to Your Mind"
"Out in the Street"
"I Don’t Know What It Is but It Sure Is Funky"
"Hey Na Na"
"Cult of Personality"
"Never Called You Crazy"
"You Don’t Know"
"Ha Di Ka"
"Keep Steppin’ "
(Stanton Moore solo)
"Ash Wednesday Sunrise"
"Heart of Steel"
Blogger Scott McDonald covers music in San Diego for a few different publications and is the editor of Eight24.com.