SHOW REVIEW: Galactic w/ The Soul Rebels @ The Westcott Theater – 2/28/12

© Matthew Balch

GALACTIC Review – 2/28/12 @ The Westcott Theater
written by Gregory Allis
photos by Matthew Blach

With 10 releases, a host of tours under their belt, and Stanton Moore hitting for them, you better believe Galactic are the real thing. The New Orlean’s Funk/Rock/Soul/Hip Hop extraordinaires have been getting crowds pumped up and bodies moving for close to 20 years! Their recent stop at Westcott Theatre was certainly no exception to the rule… These guys wail in concert!

In between sips of The Westcott Theater’s fine ale, I scoped out the elaborate stage set up in anticipation of my first complete performance by the group. A full but comfortable crowd flooded the bar to stock up on drinks prior to show time… Ritual for any concert event. At 9:32 pm, the bass started thumping, the drums kicked in, and we were off!

For those of you unaware… Let it be known that Galactic wastes no time getting to business. The sextet laid it down from the moment they hit the stage, and the crowd ate up every bit of it! Their set was chock full of rhythmic high and lows… Super thick, soulful, and heavy on the backbeat. The bass could be felt within the listener’s chest, and the richness of the melodies and pulse of the groove could make even the most obstinate of wallflowers bob their head along to the beat. This was 30 seconds into their first song.

© Matthew Balch

Then, to my gleeful amazement, they introduce Corey Glover to the stage on song 2! Though he was clearly listed as a guest performer, I had no idea they’d bring the legend onstage so quickly. Arguably one of the best front men ever, the Living Colour vocalist tore through the next 3 songs with the group, his distinctive high range vocals cutting through the music like a hot knife through soft butter. He would reappear often.

© Matthew Balch

The band kept it groovy throughout the entirety of their set. Each member was given ample time to showcase their well-honed style, yet always kept it in the context of the song. Robert Mercurio’s fat bass lines filled the venue with enough bottom end to keep Sir Mix-A-Lot drooling, Jeff Raines’ guitar and Richard Vogel’s keys adding the textural layers and catchy hooks, and Ben Ellman’s saxophone providing the sharpness to keep the groove edgy, completing the sound.

© Matthew Balch

But it is clearly drummer Stanton Moore’s show when Galactic performs. A well-known and highly respected guru behind the kit, Stanton proves, without a doubt, that white boys can groove. At center stage, his elaborate drum kit setup is the first thing you witness, with the exception of the large silver-glitter “G” directly behind it. And let’s face it, it’s a funk band… There ain’t no funk without a funky drummer. Stanton, living up to the name, undoubtedly has all the goods necessary to bring a smile to Clyde Stubblefield’s face.

Opening act The Soul Rebels also made an appearance on stage with Galactic, adding to the already dense tone coming from the band. With a total of 13 players on stage, Syracuse caught a glimpse of New Orleans musical brotherhood at its finest. The group, who also call New Orleans home, were an excellent opening choice for this touring cycle. Playing a solid 45-minute set, the 8-piece (consisting of 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 2 drummers, 1 saxophone, and 1 sousaphone) played a funky, soulful batch of jams that were thick with groove. There sound was full and lush, offering excellent texture, harmony, and some solid solos by the horns.

The crowd was mellow for the octet, but got into it when prompted from the stage. The punctuated call/response from horn players-turned-MC’s livened the atmosphere, and there was even a touch of rhyme at times.

Towards the end of their set, 8 members turned into 11 when Stanton, Ben, and Corey from Galactic joined the party on stage for “I’m So Confused,” a cut from the Rebels’ latest album. Finishing up with a funked out Eurythmics medley to end their time on stage was a nice touch.

© Matthew Balch

Highlight of the show… A 13-man jam of “Cult of Personality,” Living Colour’s biggest hit, all funked up! With every member of Galactic and The Soul Rebels present on stage (Corey singing, of course), it will definitely stand out as my most memorable moment of the show… Just nasty! Though the cover lacked the angst of the original, the mob on stage owned the track and pulled it off well!

If you did not make it to the show, I can’t help but think you missed out. If you ever need to cut loose, let off some steam, and shake your butt for an evening, Galactic is the act to see. And props to the venue, too… Westcott Theater is a great spot to see them perform. I am sure they will be having them back to the venue at some point after a turnout like this, so keep an eye out and a night free when they do!


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