House of Blues, Orlando, FL • April 5, 2000
I could hardly keep my thoughts on business this day, knowing I would soon be in the presence of tightest, grooviest bands on the scene today. Galactic was in town, and after having blown me away with their live performance last year, they couldn’t have come a day too soon!
With an illustrious Ink 19 editor in tow and another fellow inkster, we hit the road for all things funky. I was surprised to find a reunited KOW performance in progress for this show. Even a recent break-up couldn[base ‘]t keep the Orlando-based funk outfit from wanting to share the stage with New Orleans’ finest. KOW did a great job of getting the crowd to wigglin’ and jammed through some of their staple tunes. Frontman Anthony Cole was celebrating a birthday, which livened things up even more.
But the business at hand was to experience the “swamp” funk quartet from the Big Easy play in support of their new album, Late for the Future . As the band hits the stage, there is no fanfare, they just get right into the groove with a nice instrumental warm-up set to get things smoking.
Then, when the time is right, the fifth member of Galactic, vocalist Theryl “Houseman” de Couet hits the stage, complete with gold suit, and socks it to the crowd with funk and force. He headed several more songs on this tour as past albums had only used him sparingly. Houseman hit it hard on the soulful “Century City” and “Action Speaks Louder than Words,” both from Late .
Although most of the show highlighted the new album, there was room for a couple from their previous efforts, Crazyhorse Mongoose and Coolin’ Off . What is most impressive about a Galactic show is the synergy and perfection the band demonstrate on stage. No description or adjectives can do them justice. Galactic is perhaps one of the most solid groups musically I have ever seen. Stanton Moore’s drumming is unbelievable and along with Robert Mercurio (bass), they set the delicious backbeat for Rich Vogel to tap out the funk on an old Hammond B-3 & Moog, while Jeff Raines keeps the rhythm on guitar and Ben Ellman blasts ahead with his sax. Each member had ample to time to showcase their respective instruments (many pieces of equipment are vintage 30+ years old) because many tunes have room to freeform jam for ten or fifteen minutes. Stanton Moore even came out front and got creative by playing a drum head and the mic stand while Ellman accompanied on harmonica. And you know these guys are the real deal because this show wasn’t any one hour and “Goodnight everybody” bullshit—Galactic kicked it for two & a half hours non-stop!
As the jamming began to wind down, they brought out the Houseman to sing a favorite from the Coolin’ Off album, “Something’s Wrong with this Picture.” The crowd expended what remaining energy was left to dance and show their appreciation for a phenomenal performance. In fact, Galactic are attracting more fans than ever. The House of Blues was packed on a Wednesday night and everybody was grooving! This may well be the tour that propels them into stardom, and rightfully so.
If you ever have the opportunity to check these guys out live, no matter if you’ve never heard any of their songs, it will be money well spent and an experience you won’t soon forget. ◼