Galactic Lands Its Spacerocket of Funk in Philly
Galactic came out ready to funk Philly up and, along with their friends and fellow NOLA musicians Erica Falls and the Revivalists, put on one funkin’ fantastic show this past Thursday at the Electric Factory. The venue appeared to be at least twice as full as it was when the band played there last year in February, and the energy of the crowd seemed to be on the rise as well. That energy would fuel a high-octane show that lived up to the reputation Galactic has created in the live music scene, and then some.
The Revivalists infused the crowd with energy right off the bat, stepping it up throughout the show with keyboardist Michael Girardot jumping on the speakers and grooving to the music at one point and David Shaw jumping into the photo pit and interacting with ecstatic fans gathered at the rail not once, but twice. His second leap into the crowd led to a segue into an explosive rendition of Rage Against the Machine‘s “Bulls On Parade,” making for quite a finish to the band’s set that evening.
Galactic took the ball of energy created by the Revivalists and ran with it, opening hard and fast with a heavy hitting cover of “Blackbird Special” by the iconic New Orleans act Rebirth Brass Band. The song had saxophonist Ben Ellman and trombonist Corey “Boe Money” Henry engaged in a heated musical exchange but the energy reached even greater heights when the band brought New Orleans jazz singer Erica Falls onto the stage, who floored the audience with her stage presence and vocal prowess. Smooth yet smoky, her crystal clear voice hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows without a single crack, with an incredible control of dynamics that had the crowd hanging on her every note. She brought her own energy and flair to Galactic staples such as “Heart of Steel,” “Does It Really Make a Difference,” and (along with the Revivalists’ front man David Shaw) “Hey Na Na,” as well as newer songs “Hard Times” (in which trombonist Corey Henry takes to the mic as well), “Higher,” “Dolla Diva” (along with David Shaw) and numerous yet-unreleased tracks.
Of the instrumental numbers, one of the more impressive moments came during “Cineramascope,” which featured lengthy and impressive solos by bassist Robert Mercurio and drummer Stanton Moore. Moore was playing so many pieces of his set up at once that it was enough to make one’s head spin – he is truly a treat to watch. David Shaw joined the band for a solid rendition of “All Along The Watchtower,” but Galactic saved the best cover for last, however, when they, along with Falls, played an encore that ended with classic soul number “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” in which Ellman and Falls stole the spotlight as they brought some seriously sultry soul to the stage. And with that, the show ended the same way in which it started: with a bang.
Galactic always puts on a great show, but Erica Falls is truly something special and worth catching while she’s still touring with the band. Part of the appeal of Galactic is in their constant juggling of vocalists (thereby ensuring a fresh experience for fans), however, the flip side of that coin means that your opportunities to see this particular manifestation of Galactic are limited. Check out their tour schedule here, and if you see a show near you do not make the mistake of passing it up.