During a Break in Snowstorms, Galactic Takes Philly By its Own Storm
This past Saturday Galactic simply electrified Philly’s Electric Factory with its unique brand of NOLA funk, with some help from opener Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires. The 21+ show was well-attended, though thankfully not packed, and the venue had even set up a few rows of bleachers on either side of the entrance passage from the lobby to the floor, which worked well given the size of the crowd. A few small tables were also placed toward the back of the floor area for those with drinks – although alcohol is normally forbidden on the floor here, due to the age limitation guests could drink wherever they chose this evening.
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires started off the night right with some silky smooth soul. The so-called “Screaming Eagle of Soul” channeled James Brown in appearance, intonation, and stage presence, which comes as little surprise given that he launched his music career by impersonating the man who provided him with great inspiration. From the way that man moved on stage, you would find it hard to believe he will turn sixty-six years old this year. From the funky outfits and hair to the fancy footwork and half splits to the soulful crooning and musical positivity, his set filled the audience with sheer happiness and love. Each of us would be blessed to find something we love doing as much as Charles Bradley clearly loves doing this.
Galactic took the stage around 10:30pm and the crowd was ready to get the funk down, channeling all of their loving vibes from Charles Bradley into some wickedly groovy dance moves. Two words sum up the band’s performance that evening: energy, and range. Those who follow Galactic’s music know that the band rotates its vocalists, and on the current tour they have New Orleans’ own Maggie Koerner with them. They infused elements of jazz, blues, hip hop, soul, classic rock, psychedelic electronica and more into their characteristic funk backbone with ease this evening. Ben Ellman served up some dastardly delicious jams on both the saxophone and harmonica, and Corey “Boe Money” Henry showed off his multifaceted musical prowess providing crushing trombone jams and perfectly flowing rap verses. One of the instrumental highlights came during the song “Boe Money.” Robert Mercurio went wild during this one, using the entire fingerboard of his bass to perform his solo, and then some. To top of the mind-melting number, Stanton Moore followed in suit with an unaccompanied drum solo that went on for several minutes and featured a mini solo-within-a-solo on his numerous cowbells. As usual, Moore’s performance was breathtaking.
The entire band put on a stellar show, with each musician receiving their time in the spotlight. Koerner, however, may have been the brightest star of them all in this particular performance. I have always been a huge fan of Corey Glover singing with the band, but this soul mama has absolutely blown me away the couple of times I have seen her with the NOLA funk juggernaut. She utterly nailed it on Galactic’s cover of her number “He Calls Me Mama,” and passionately belted out one of the band’s newest covers, James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World,” with a fire I rarely see in any vocalist. I’ll tell you one thing, it may still be a man’s world, but it’s ladies out there like the talented and fearless Maggie Koerner who prove the song’s lyrics true: “It don’t mean nothin’ without a woman.”
You could tell the crowd was into it from the second they started singing along to the band’s hit “Hey Na Na” toward the beginning of the set. But the dead giveaway came toward the middle of the set when Henry pointed out to the crowd and, in characteristic NOLA style, shouted “Can I get a Who Dat?!” You would think Philadelphians, still sore from watching their beloved Eagles get knocked out of the playoffs by NOLA’s Saints, may have rejected such a request from Who Dat Nation. Yet the crowd ate it up, and fans throughout the building could be heard throwing a “WHO DAT!” right back at Henry. The energy arguably peaked when they ended the night with their classic funk-infused cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” It was the perfectly funky encore to a very NOLA-filled night of music in the City of Brother Love.
Galactic continues their 2014 Winter Tour – check out the schedule here to find a performance near you. Whatever you do, don’t miss seeing them with Maggie if you can avoid it. Also, check out Charles Bradley while you are at it! You can find his upcoming performances here.