Monday, October 29, 2007

Getting Funky With Galactic

From The Corner To The BlockAs they have for at least the last two years, the New Orleans based Galactic made a stop at the Meridian in Houston on their way back home for the annual Voodoo music festival. Last Thursday The Blot had the great opportunity to see Galactic for the first time since moving to the H. If you’ve never seen this Jazz-Funk-Jam band play it’s definitely worth the price of admission. While there are typically no lyrics to their songs, the music, accompanied by a fantastic light show, is truly great. This five piece band is comprised of a keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, drummer and a saxophonist/harmonica player. What made The Blot even more excited to catch this particular show was the album the band is currently touring to promote. From The Corner To The Block is a concept album that combines Galactic’s unique sound with some of Hip-Hop’s finest performers, each taking a turn rapping over Galactic’s music. The Blot is a big fan of Hip-Hop music, so after listening to most of this album I was excited to see how it would translate to a live performance.

Galactic was joined on each stop of their current tour by two of the hip-hop artists appearing on the new album. At this particular stop the band was joined by Charli 2na (of Jurassic 5) and Boots Riley (of The Coup). I was particularly sad to not have Mr. Lif performing at this tour stop. Mr. Lif is a really talented east coast MC that I happened upon one day cruising the aisles of Waterloo Records in Austin. I have since followed his career but have never had the chance to catch one of his live shows. I would definitely recommend checking him out and you can preview some of his songs on his website Nevertheless, I was excited to see both Charli 2na, since I have always been a fan of the now defunct Jurassic 5, and Boots Riley, especially after reading all of the rave reviews for The Coup’s most recent album Pick A Bigger Weapon.

I had heard both of their songs on the new album and really enjoyed them. I was especially pleased when the songs proved to be just as good live as they were in the studio. Galactic was also even better than I remembered when performing without the additional vocals. I did hear some grumblings from fans in the audience that they were hoping for a more traditional Galactic concert and less collaborations. I really enjoyed all of Boots Riley’s performance though and enjoyed the first few songs of Charli 2na. The collaborations really reminded me a lot of Jay-Z’s MTV Unplugged performance when The Roots joined Jay-Z to perform his greatest hits. When the show really started to lag was at the end of the set when Charli 2na debuted some new material off his upcoming album. At that point Galactic was relegated to back-up band and sounded really confined to Charli's rapping. Back-up band status really doesn’t suit Galactic's style and unfortunately left the band to close their set on a down note. But, I will say that after seeing this show I am definitely interested in hear more of Boots Riley and will probably pick up the latest album from The Coup.

Galactic LogoWhile the fans in attendance Thursday night definitely got their moneys worth out of the two hour performance, the fact that it was a weekday show and that Galactic didn’t go on until 10 pm lead much of the audience to leave early. Knowing I would have to wake up in a few short hours for work the next morning forced even The Blot to leave the show before the band returned for an encore, a pretty rare occurrence. Last week’s show left me with mixed emotions. Even though I would still recommend to all music fans to check out a Galactic show at least once, I think this tour might not be the best representation of the band's music. If the concept album really interests you I strongly suggest picking up the album but waiting to see Galactic until their next tour which will most likely be without the additional help on stage.

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