Words by Sean Walsh | Photo by Rod Snyder
Everyone knows the feeling. You’ve been there before. This place is familiar, yet the precise murmurings of tonight sharply differ than those of past and previous fortune. A space previously uninhabited, flares temporarily, even if just for a few hours, to tell its story. Like our favorite concert venues and festivals, they began as pure open spaces; An endless, blank canvas looking to be exploited by cultural and artistic endeavors in the most grandiose of forms.
While some artists form intricately syncopated designs and thrive on pinpoint accuracy, some are birthed out of the universe as they were supposed to be; A colorful conglomeration of musical culture soaked with expressive freedom and lack of strict rigidity…a place for the mind, the soul, the heart, light , and sound of the universe to converge and behave as one. Enter Galactic.
Last Thursday night, Los Angeles’ El Rey Theater was treated to the musical stylings of neo-funk-soul-blues-jazz outfit. I was slightly worried how my work attire would be received by some other fans around me, but I was delighted to find out I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was comforting to see 20-something-year-olds engaging in active discussions with 50-60 year olds, and really opened my eyes to the cultural outreach that Galactic has been able to achieve.
Even when I was asked ‘So what’s your take on Phil Jackson?’ (I forgot I was wearing my NY Knicks hat) by an obviously distraught Lakers fan, anger and hostility could not be further dismissed. Although clearly on opposite sides of the court, our ‘discussion’ was soon muted by Robert Mercurio’s opening bass lines. We both smiled, clinked our beers together and immediately became friends and spectators of the Galactic universe; this is the power of live music!
So funkin’ groovy! Man, I didn’t realize just how many different musical elements and styles they incorporated over the course of their set. From blues to funk, jazz to soul, hip-hop fusion to electronica, there is a little something for everyone here. Magnificent organ work and entrancing trombones lifted already escalating melodies to grandiose heavenly-high peaks, which were made even more astonishing when accompanied by the majestic soaring vocals of special guest Maggie Koerner.
Koener was given quite a welcome by the mixed LA crowd, and was quickly embraced by the funky backdrop of Galactic who was even joined by Jamaican favorite, and the night’s opening act, Brushy One String for a few songs. Koener belted out stylishy-syncopated rhythms and melodies that would make Kelly Clarkson or Katy Perry blush. On the other end of the spectrum- Brushy’s classic suit and hat combo, coupled with what I believe to have been a variation of the ‘funky chicken’, was impossible to look away from. Dark and raspy, yet playfully crisp, Brushy delivered on all cylinders, as the boys in Galactic were providing the backdrop; the cool calm, collected, soulful-jazzed up – New Orleans feel.
Its impressive to say that, after all these years on the road, the youthful buzz and jazzed up energy of Galactic can still light up the stage, showcasing a truly wonderful ‘carnivale of electricos.’
TheWaster.com | LA