Galactic | 12.31.07 | New Orleans

Words by: JR Hevron | Images by: Cara Schembri

Galactic :: 12.31.07 :: Tipitina's :: New Orleans, LA

Stanton Moore - Galactic :: 12.31.07 :: NOLA
It's hard to get excited by New Year's Eve concerts these days. With the crowds, the jacked up prices and the general amateur night antics, many freaks would rather just stay home and celebrate with friends. We've thrown our hat into the Galactic ring for the past few years and this year was no different. Getting in and out of Tipitina's was painless, the crowd was into it and the band played a tight, inspired, well paced mix of groovy funk, hip-hop and heavy rock. While the show wasn't my musical highlight of the year, it was a blast and a perfect way to ring in 2008.

We got to Tip's at 11:45, eager to get in before midnight. A New Orleans tradition is to shoot guns up into the air at midnight instead of fireworks. Billboards around town warn, "What goes up must come down," and almost every year some poor person learns this the hard way. Over the years, my parents have found bullets in the roofs of their house and cars. That said it's a good idea to be indoors for the countdown.

The band was in the middle of playing some old-school instrumentals when we walked in, a rare treat on this tour. If you haven't seen Galactic in the past few months, they've been touring with many of the MCs on the From the Corner to the Block album and focusing on that material. While many hardcore fans that'd come to expect a certain instrumental groove have been disappointed, the rappers do bring a new accessibility and put-your-hands-in-the-air atmosphere to the shows. For better or worse, Galactic is good at handing the reins over to whoever is rapping while stepping into total background band mode. It puts a lot of pressure on the MCs to carry the show and kills some of the musical spontaneity and variety that attracted people to Galactic in the first place. Even with great MCs it can get tiring. When I saw the band in New York in November, 14 of the 18 songs in the single set show had MCs. It just didn't feel like much of a Galactic gig. But, with two sets at New Years and a whole tour under their belts, the band had a lot more room to mix things up.

Mr. Life with Galactic :: 12.31.07 :: NOLA
Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 took the mic at midnight for the countdown, accompanied by horns from the opener Egg Yolk Jubilee. We grabbed a complimentary bottle of champagne from one of the bars and braced ourselves for a fun cover of Zep's "Immigrant Song" with Chali 2na, his brother, sideman Laidlaw and the other MC at this show, Mr. Lif. Afterwards, Chali 2na and Laidlaw took over for a run of three songs including two Jurassic 5 tunes and one from Corner. As far as the MCs go, 2na is the most commanding. He's tall and charismatic with a strong delivery that rides with the band's grooves almost like another instrument. There's so much chemistry between Chali and Galactic, that he feels more like a full time member of the band than a guest MC.

After two more instrumentals, Mr. Lif hit the stage. Lif's tune is one of Corner's best but doesn't translate well live. He has a very different style than Chali, where he raps with his hoodie up and hides behind glasses and enormous dreads. His delivery sits more on top of the music rather than grooving with it. He's good at what he does, but it takes some getting used to.

When the set ended we drifted outdoors, hopefully safe from falling bullets. Thanks to New Orleans' liberal open container laws and Tipitina's liberal reentry policy, it's quite the scene outside during set breaks. Back inside, we headed for a front-and-center spot on the floor. After floating around Tip's all night, it was tempting to stay in the VIP area upstairs, where there was actually room to move, but the energy of the floor sucked us in. Standing there, we could finally see the backdrop - a simple black light poster style fleur-de-lis radiating dayglow orange lines behind Stanton Moore.

Houseman with Galactic :: 12.31.07 :: NOLA
A thin gentleman in a new red suit walked out with the band. It took a second to recognize the Houseman. He's thinner and a little grayer but looking good - a positive sign after the health scares that contributed to his departure from Galactic. It felt like old times with Houseman back on the mic singing "There's Something Wrong With This Picture." Sure, everyone in the band looks a little older and there are more wedding rings in the mix, but what felt the same was the way time slowed down for a second as the audience segued into the old groove-mind-space. Even if you didn't like Houseman when he was touring with the band, he brought a certain energy to the stage that the MCs just miss.

All too brief, House was only on for one song but the band had more treats for us, namely the rocking "Black Eyed Pea" > "Trampled" combo they've been playing for the past year. The whole second set had a nice flow, especially now that most of the dissipated audience had fully settled in. After a few more instrumentals, Chali 2na and his brother hit the stage for a few more songs, and then it was time for another sweet dose of the Houseman. I don't even particularly like "Century City" but he sang it with such authority it was tough to deny. Afterwards, Mr. Lif came out for one more sequence of songs, closing with "...And I'm Out" from the album. The band ended with "Shibuya," a song that has lost some of its luster over the years but had guitarist Jeff Raines raging on slide.

As the clock hit 3 a.m., our group wondered aloud if this was it. Galactic has spoiled us in the past with three set New Years shows and it certainly felt like we were in for another one. So, it was mildly disappointing that it turned out to be only two more songs. The band came back after a few short minutes and went into their awesome cover of Balkan Beat Box's "Sunday Arak." Chali 2na and Laidlaw came back for one more song to close the night and it was time to follow the slow drag of people back out onto the corner.

12.31.07 :: Tipitina's :: New Orleans, LA
Set One: FEMA, Crazyhorse Mongoose, Go-go, COUNTDOWN (Chali 2na), Auld Lang Syne (Egg Yolk Jubilee) > Immigrant Song (Chali 2na, Laidlaw, Mr. Lif), Comin Thru (Chali 2na and Laidlaw), What's Golden (Chali 2na and Laidlaw), Think Back (Chali 2na and Laidlaw), Spiderbite, Hit the Wall, The Playback (Mr. Lif), Pull Out Your Cut (Mr. Lif) > Settle the Score (Mr. Lif)
Set Two: Something's Wrong With This Picture (Houseman), Black Eyed Pea > Trampled, Garbage Truck, Get Focused (Chali 2na and Laidlaw) > International (Chali 2na and Laidlaw), Lock Shit Down (Chali 2na and Laidlaw), Baker's Dozen, Metermaid > 2 dots, Century City (Houseman), Front on This (Mr. Lif), Fiasco(Mr. Lif), ....And I'm out (Mr. Lif), Shibuya
Encore: Sunday Arak, Step Your Game Up (Chali 2na and Laidlaw)

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[Published on: 1/11/08]

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Comments

sman Fri 1/11/2008 07:41PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

sman

Good article... I saw Galactic in Asheville about 6 weeks ago and I have to say I was not digging the MC's. They were very talented don't get me wrong but the article had it dead on when it stated that everytime the MC came on the stage Galactic turned into a backing band and lost a lot of their improvizational flare. The crowd would lose it's energy only to have it ramped up again once the instrumental awesomeness began again.

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/12/2008 08:37AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

First off, excellent review and good pics. The touch of New Orleans culture of New Years is nice to read about. And the writer has done a fine job of describing the chemistry, or lack there of, between band and MC(s). But I will be one who watches the comments on this review. I have been hesitant to get into Galactic with MCs. Have not yet purchased the Corner CD, nor caught the set with MCs. So I am eager to hear from more of you who did catch them this last time around. Do you agree with the authors assessment as above? I do miss the old school Galactic, and Houseman. But i respect a bands decision to evolve and not make the same music all the time. I will say this ... I did listen to the imeem track above, and it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. Like the harmonica strewn throughout. And the music still does sound like Galatic. I am at least intriged to hear more. So what from anybody else, what have you all got to say. I want to hear from more fans????

bigandtall Sat 1/12/2008 09:09AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I wrote the review... I hope it doesn't come off that I don't appreciate that they are trying to mix things up and do something different. I think it's really brave of them to throw something completely new at their fans and risk losing a few along the way. At the same time, I wanted to review the NYE show for what it was and how I felt coming out of it. And as any long time fan of the band knows, if you're not totally into what they're doing this time around, just wait till the next tour.

rjd999 Sat 1/12/2008 10:27AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i understand the speculation about galactic having the emcees with them. i have seen galactic twice now, and once was at the 930 club, and chuck brown, the godfather of go go, came out and they jammed with him for like half hour plus, one of my alltime concert experiences. with that being said, i love the straight steamroller funk of galactic, and prefer it over their new hip hop leanings. i do have the new album, and i really do enjoy it, its a fresh breath to hear some hip hop with backing music thats actually worth a damn... but all things considered, i would much rather see them as an instrumental band, or with houseman, than with the rappers. i mean, i love the 2na fish, but hip hop live is just pretty boring to me. but great review, honest and in depth, and great band

tourfan Sat 1/12/2008 11:32AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

On the contrary JR, I do think your appreciation of a great band does come across here. I just want to hear from other fans of the band whether this CD and this past tour is worthy of getting into. I for one, simply am not a Hip Hop fan. So I want to hear from other fans about the over all feel of the tour/album???? Like I said, excellent review, one of the better I've read here at the JB. Drop a few more on us when you can.

articgtp starstarstarstar Sat 1/12/2008 01:24PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

articgtp

yeah tourfan, i've seen them on the new tour and i must say its worth the money but you can't try to compare it to a regular galactic show, apple to oranges. like i said im a fan of the new album and have seen them several times before but they do not compare, so while not being better than normal shows they are entertaining and original.

rjd999 Sat 1/12/2008 05:52PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

im with milesgone on this one... how in the hell is it possible to live down there with great music every single place you turn. im from the dc area, and granted we have some pretty nice places to see some shows, it isnt even comprable to a town like new orleans, i gotta make it down there sometime. memphis and chicago too probably, the whole concept of homegrown music in those cities is uncanny

lewiscipher Sun 1/13/2008 06:16AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

starting with you initial comment this review went downhill...did u have fun? cant tell from this lukewarm review

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/14/2008 03:47AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

"if you're not totally into what they're doing this time around, just wait till the next tour".

exactly!!!

Also, I can see how, once an MC gets going, he kinda takes over the stage, leaving the band to sit in the back, and to fans of the band, that is not really what they want. NO Matter. I loved the album. the only rap album I ever loved :))

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/14/2008 07:41AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

I too am not one of the biggest fans of Galactic's ever changing direction. Where as I have On the Corner... I really do not enjoy it as much as some of their older offerings. In addition, I find it very difficult to have a certain degree of flow when one is constantly changing singers (DJs) during a live performance. I did enjoy Theryl, but I don't necessarily miss him. I wish Galactic would at least go back to that type of permanent guest (singer) format with a single individual. The format of those concert years was definitely their best.

mkane Mon 1/14/2008 10:05AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I caught the Mobile, AL Soul Kitchen show on the 30th, and agree with everything the writer of this review wrote. The only thing to add is that Galactic has hired a new soundman and he is one of the best in the business. He has done The Nevilles, Funky Meters, and YES, and can take any band's sound and make it sound like your ears are in heaven. For a video clip of the Mobile show, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjXEBSTWk_Q

threef starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/14/2008 11:02AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

They need to bring the House Man back. THat was the shit back in the day. From first catching them at Mt Air in 98 GAlatic was the goods and the house man haelped drop the funk. THe girl they had singing never did it for me and even though I love rap, I want the G-Funk w/ da house man again. PLease tour with him again.

danpfunk Mon 1/14/2008 01:04PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I also got the impression that this was an okay but not exceptional experience. Which is fine with me, but if the reviewer meant to convey a blast, that wasn't clear.

I have been checking setlists and reading Jam Cruise message boards lately to get a feel for this tour, and in general people seem a bit down on the MCs and the band in general (short sets, repeat tunes, etc.) I just saw the show on Sat. night in St. Pete, and had pretty low expectations going in, due to all the negative stuff I have been reading.

I came away more than satisfied. Mr. Lif was a bit much, but was on for only 3 songs maybe. And I really liked Boots Riley, his was active and animated and his lyrics fit nicely with the music. But, even he was only out for 3-4 songs, so it seemed. Overall the show was at least half just the band, and even with the MCs they were on it.

Having seen most of the variations of the band through the years, I would agree this is my least favorite, but I hardly feel that they are doing anything outside of stretching themselves out and experimenting, which is just fine by me.

cmoore7 starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/14/2008 01:23PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I first saw Galactic during the "Century City" single days of 2001 at Blue Cats in Knoxville, and then again in the winter of 2002 at A1A in Louisville. At the time, I had no idea that they even had a frontman being that my only previous introduction to the band was the Crazyhorse Mongoose album, which from what I recall, was a mostly instrumental jam. The K-Town and 'Ville shows were fronted by the Houseman who sent both crowds into a frenzy. Most recently saw Galactic at Bonnaroo '07, where they played the "On the Corner" material to a seemingly uninspired late night crowd. Could have been because Govt. Mule and Girl Talk were killing it at the time, but probably because of reasons as stated in the article. The line that best describes the situation in the article is "his delivery sits more on top of the music rather then grooving with it. Hip-Hop and a house band can work successfully if done right(see Blackalicious).

twist2piper starstar Mon 1/14/2008 02:57PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Why would you write a review of a show that you arrived late to?

Omm starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/14/2008 08:15PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I have never been a fan of hip-hop really, although I do have a few artists that I have the up-most respect for. That said, I think Galactic stole the festival at Bonnaroo last summer. It killed me that it was at the same time as Gov't Mule, but I had decided to give the hip-hop a fair chance before I wandered over to Mule. Galactic had me, I couldnt even think of something that I would rather have been at. I couldn't even leave my spot to use the restroom, that is how much it captivated me. I cannot wait to get a chance to see them in St. Louis next month. Granted you cannot compare the classic Galactic music with the new hip-hop, I honestly don't think it was made to be compared, it was just made to enjoy. Hope that helps, thanks for the great article.

Peace,

Rob

Katey23 Wed 1/16/2008 07:07AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I'm with Omm - Galactic at the Roo '07 was simply amazing (they had pretty much all the mc's off the new album rotating in and out). I wouldn't say the band falls into the background either: to me, it's a smooth give and take, a watery funk following and leading some powerful words. I like they still have pure Galactic moments too (mc's aren't always on stage), and I find that by mixing it up like that the show stays fresh and inspiring all night long. If you have the chance to see them with Gift of Gab, take it! He is phenomenal - lots to say and a true crowd worker.

theguykeator Wed 1/16/2008 10:42AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

theguykeator

The Houseman does need to come back. Hes got one of those groovy funk voices that is soothing to the ear. The Gift of Gab is pretty tight but Mr. Lif doesnt do it for me. Im getting pumped to check them out agian on 2/20 at the Cabooze.

onelovinsun starstarstarstar Tue 1/22/2008 09:13AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

onelovinsun

I was there and feel the article conveyed the night pretty accurately. It wasn't mind-blowing, but it was a *great* time. Being a newer fan of Galactic, the MCs were a welcomed surprise for a NYE celebration, imo. However, its true, that the band does become a 'background' band...

And, the show didn't start til almost 11:40, so the author of the article didn't miss much to review.

DaKracken starstarstarstar Wed 1/23/2008 09:54AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I can't even remember how many times I have seen The Galactic Profolactic but I have seen them twice with the MC's and it just doesn't do it for me. The MC's have skills no doubt but as others say the band blends into the background (exactly as they should since the rhymes are taking front and center-is a band supposed to play over a vocalist?) I saw them at Chazzfest (Charleston, SC music fest) and they were very good and the rappers were less prevalent but at the end of the set JJ Grey (Mofro also played) came out and sang symphathy for the devil and Wildflower by the Cult and I completely forgot about the rappers. I wish the guitarist would practice some shred techniques and bring more heat actually-but I realized he has a niche to fill and it isn't guitar rock so much but he always seems a l'il limp to me. Galactic is always a good time and Stanton and Ben have always been nice after the shows when I congradulated them on their set. These guys are consumate pros and will be around for a long long time.