Photos by Dino Perrucci
Galactic w/Triple Threat
Irving Plaza 1.25 & 1.26 | NYC
15th and Irving were buzzing... the pretentious New York crowd was dressed to impress, peculiar looks on faces asking "who's playing here?" And then shrugging when told of the New Orleans bad boys. A tough ticket indeed, attested to by the scores of people outside with outstretched index fingers. Some comments about how "this isn't a Grateful Dead concert" and a lot of "who the hell are they?" were ringing in the air. I heard all of this blind commentary both Friday and Saturday evening as I roamed the corner in search of tickets, one of which I bought was counterfeit. Nonetheless, the tone and energy was tense and electrifying as just about the entire New York groove scene came out in support of Galactic.
Over the weekend we were to be rewarded with some of the most inspired performances the Northeast has scene from the Big Easy barnstorming troupe. Reputation had always preceded them on their tours to these parts, and then somehow, whether it be Philly or Burlington, they wouldn't deliver the goods like we'd heard they would. My suspicions rang true after seeing them tear the roof of Jazzfest a couple times over. Yet New York is tough, and the crowds here have a reputation too, as do the prodigal sons, so there was a bit to prove this weekend, and boy did Galactic ever silence the naysayers.
Friday and Saturday night were brisk yet agreeable evenings, and although the cold wore on you while working tickets outside, the Triple Threat (DJ's Shortkut, Apollo, and VinRoc,) warmed you up with a sets of old-school New York hip hop and funky breaks that got torsos loosened up. Galactic opened Friday's show with a hard- hitting "Crazyhorse Mongoose" off the album of the same name. You knew that they had their "A" game when "Moog Marmalade" came with Rich Vogel's newly expanding analog prowess rolled over drummer/sickass Stanton Moore's slam.
Soon after, Theryl "Houseman" DeClouet arrived in typical shiny suits and hustler's swagger. Some people were making comments like I once did (that Houseman ruins the vibe or whatever), but I have grown to LOVE the Houseman's contributions, particularly "Villified" which is a rugged R&B vocal and a dirty track underneath. Galactic takes sounds from all over jazz and funk's history and adds a bit of New Orleans Cajun fried stomp to the mix, and the Houseman only spices up the swanky affair. "Baker's Dozen" featured a sweet bottom end from Rob Mercurio, holding it down with Rich's Rhodes and Stanton's neck snapping beats leading the way for the Triple Threat to join them in "Tiger Roll" and leaving Stanton onstage bumping with the DJ's before he retreated to set break.
Formerly members of the seminal DJ troupe The Invisible Scratch Pickles, the Triple Threat are on some shit. Master turntablists, musicians on the one and twos. Throughout their performances both nights: individually, collectively, and with Galactic, they really upped the ante for all the turntablists invading the jam scene with mediocre skills. They drop ill breaks, juggle like clowns, and laced the NY crowd with golden-era tracks from Tribe, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Black Moon, Lords of the Underground, and a host of other Native Tonguers. While digging these gems I maneuvered up to the front with all the styled out ladies who get down for theirs.
They were in the middle of juggling a Notorious BIG break when Stanton, Rob, and Rich rejoined them for a beat juggle of their own, tweaking the hip hop track live back and forth with the Triple Threat. The rest of the band emerged with Houseman and busted a vicious "I Get Lifted" and "Start From Scratch." The second sets on both nights were very strong. After "Charlie Dozen," Michael Kang of the String Cheese Incident arrived toting his "Kanguedoc" and the southern fried scrapple got served in the form of a fantastic medley : "Doublewide> Mystery Train> Wurli-Rich (Vogel and Kang killed this rumbler)>Blues for Ben," where the ass grooving and jaw dropping took over and the New York crowd was jubilant and mesmerized. A raucous "Little Miss Lover" with bombastic drumming from Sir Stanton closed the second set. A fired up band returned for a still raging "Change, Reform" to encore the show and send the NYC massive reeling over to Third and Thirteenth, the after party where DJ Apollo was spinning more old-school hip hop at Cafe DeVille. A great crowd showed up for that late nighter, where the vibe was pretty tight as well.
The scene and ticket scarcity was the same for Saturday night as well, but first I went over to the Lion's Den to see a great new Burlington R&B band called Opius, featuring the Northeast's underground hollow body King, Mr. David Diamond (Grippo Funk Band, The Invisible Hand). I was impressed by the vibe and the controlled dynamics that allowed their female singer freedom and a sensual groove beneath her sultry vocal. When I finally arrived at the Irving Plaza, I bugged for a hot minute that I was gonna get shutout, till a bro saved the day with a ticket just as Galactic was finishing the opener, "Hang Nail."
For the second night, I was relegated to the back half for the first set due to my late arrival, and just kicked it at the bar while the band cooked right out of the gates. "Hamp's Hump," "Sprung Monkey" and "Ice Cold Daydream" featured Rich Vogel and Stanton hooking up and even guitarist Jeff Raines was making his presence known with gritty tone and those swampy licks he tastefully sneaks in underneath Stanton's boom. Houseman arrived and blessed us with two of my Houseman favorites, "Thrill" and "Something's Wrong with this Picture." Chunky beats and samples from the Triple Threat augmented "Doo Rag" and the DJ's positively killed it over a chronic "Shibuya," you could tell that there was a great musical bond between the Big Easy Badasses and the Bay Area Bombers that had developed during the tour. Tonight was to be the last night the Triple Threat were on the tour. And shit, they made it count. Again Stanton couldn't get enough and had to pound skins with Vinroc for a few before set break. Watch out for Vinroc, the guy is straight money on the one and twos, really shining throughout the evening, both on tandem tables and with the band.
The brothers came out with a booty-moving vengeance for set II. The Triple Threat was not done yet, tweaking out Houseman's "Love On the Run" and just like 'dat, it was on, Ben Ellmen's increasing skills and bravado on display as he skronked out the baritone. Like NYC resident funkstress Miss Nina puts it "the second set was just sheer nastiness, dirty, rockin' funk that blew the place up." Absolutely! Again I worked my way up to the groove-athon and swanked out to "Actions speak Louder Than Words," with some rare backup vox from Mercurio and Ellmen. The classic "Groove Holmes" brought it back to the basics, where Stanton ruled like a dictator just working it with relentless G-funk. Some tunes that really opened up on the psychedelic tip, "Bobski/Jeffe 2000" rolled into more block rocking beats like "Black Eyed Pea." And as the dancing and music got dirtier and the sweat flowed like whiskey, Houseman delivered the anthemic "Sweet Leaf," powerfully jolting the audience up in a blaze of herbsmoke.
They brought the Triple Threat out again for an extended, punishing encore that teased "Cissy Strut" and the Biggie Smalls beat before revisiting "I Get Lifted," and boy were we ever, with the boys just passing around the jam and Houseman belting out his patented tough guy/truck driver hustler steez with a bit of player's balls. This ballistic bomb track lead into the NOLA anthem "Africa," making us all long for Fest this year, with hands up sing-a-longs and air guitar from many a boozed patron in the audience (myself included) back into the anthem of the weekend "I Get Lifted."
Galactic lifted their rep skyward in a showing of serious determination to rise up and pound the audience like a madcap jackhammer, on turbo all weekend long.
I was ready for New Orleans...guess I'll have to wait a couple more months.
Friday, January 25, 2002 Irving Plaza, NYC (Night #1)
Set I Crazyhorse Mongoose, Moog Marmalade, Go Go, It's All Behind Me Now, Something You Do To Me, Villified, Shucktime, Baker's Dozen> Stanton, Rob and Rich Jam> Baker's Dozen, Tiger Roll (w/ TT)> Stanton and TT Jam> TT Setbreak>.
Set II I Get Lifted (w/ TT), Start From Scratch, Charlie Dozen, *Doublewide> *Mystery Train> *Wurlirich> *3rd Stone From The Sun> *Wurlirich, *Blues For Ben, Cheekybird ("Gina's ambivalent song"..hehehe), Little Miss Lover.
E: Change, Reform
*w/ Michael Kang on the "Kanguedoc"
(Post show party w/ DJ Apollo at Cafe Deville)
Saturday, January 26, 2002 Irving Plaza, NYC (Night #2)
Set I Hang Nail, Hamp's Hump, Sprung Monkey, Ice Cold Daydream, Thrill, Something's Wrong With This Picture, Blue Pepper, Doo Rag (w/ TT), SHIBUYA!!! (w/ TT)> Stanton and TT Jam>
TT Set break
Set II Love On The Run (w/ TT), Actions speak Louder Than Words (w/ Ben and Robert on backing vocals), Groove Holmes> Bobski/Jeffe 2000> Space Jelly> Black Eyed Pea, Church, Chicken Pox, Don't Do It, Sweetleaf.
E: *Jam w/ Cissy Strut quoted many times by Robert and Jeff> *I Get Lifted> *Africa> *I Get Lifted.
* w/ TT
JamBase | East Coast
Go See Live Music
Bowery Ballroom, 01.27.02 | NYC
What's a band to do after selling out two nights at Irving Plaza and with a
couple of days off before the next city. Well if you're Galactic the answer
is obvious...... invite some friends and get your groove on at the Bowery Ballroom.
This show was only announced a few days before the Irving shows and somehow
managed to not sell out. I think that had a lot to do with the serious throw
down the night before but that's for another story. The end result of a
large but not sold out crowd was an abundance of sweet spots where you had
plenty of room to move to the music.
The first set was solid if not spectacular. "Tchufunkta" was nice to hear as
it was my first of this run and as always the band has put new twists on the
song. The set seemed pretty short but things were just getting warmed up.
This was the first show of this tour without the Triple Threat DJ's. I
enjoyed them a great deal in the previous shows I've seen on this tour
especially when they were playing with the band. On most nights when
Galactic finished the first set, Stanton would stay out for the beginning of
the DJ's set which came right out of a Galactic tune. I missed that. I
mean, I knew that the DJ's wouldn't be there on Sunday night but like the
expression goes... you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
The second set started with the Houseman tunes "Century City" and "Running
Man" which were good but I needed more energy than that. And then the night
changed. When people go back and listen to this show I think they will instantly
recognize that "Backpack" was the turning point. They had rehearsed it
during sound check and even toyed with a little "Hot For Teacher" segue for
fun but that was nothing compared to the ferocity with which they hit it
that night. It was funky, it was boppin' and it really set the tone for the
rest of the night.
Next up Galactic welcomed the first of three guests, Topaz. Adding another
horn to the Galactic mix is always a good idea especially when you have
someone who plays as well as Topaz. "Hit The Wall" was smokin.' Next Ben
introduced Glen Patrick who came out to share keyboard duties with Rich
Vogel. I had never heard of or seen him play before but what a great
surprise. The band really gave him some room to show what he was made of and he had
chops. With Topaz still onstage the musical gumbo was thick with
musicians. The extended "Layin' In The Cut" they played really kept the
whole room moving. So the guests leave and you think maybe it's time for a
breather after all that. No chance. "Tippi Toes" followed and it seamed like
everyone was going to their reserve tanks for energy because things were
really shakin'. Next, Ben Ellman returned to the stage for a tune that I
can't name (yeah, I know I've seen it a dozen times) but that kept the pace.
Houseman was up next and pulled out a "Live The Life" which I don't hear
nearly enough. I hadn't realized how long it had been since they played it
until I saw them struggle with it in sound check. Like the "Backpack" when it
really counted during show time, it was on another level. Then as if we had
not yet been whipped into enough of a frenzy, they break out "Fire".
Houseman was great on these tunes. Singin', struttin', keeping the energy
high. Now, the thought crossed my mind as "Fire" ended, "this could be it."
I mean, it's late, everyone's tired and they just rocked a "Fire." Who would
really complain if that was it?
That was far from it. Bobby Mac came out and said "Please put your hands
together for Eric Krasno on guitar." Woah, another guest. What are they
gonna do now? Well, they proceeded to reinvent the
groove classic "Root Down" and then a smooth transition into "Quiet Please."
Those were 20 of the happiest minutes of my weekend. Now you may call me
bias, being a big Soulive fan but I think everyone was impressed with
this unexpected twist in the evening. Krasno's guitar blended
perfectly within the groove. Absolutely distinct without being overbearing
or out of place. Finally, to end a weekend like this with a "Quiet Please"
like that was the perfect end to a great weekend of friends and music.
Sunday, January 27th, 2002 Bowery Ballroom, NYC (Night #3)
Set I Pocket Full Of Sapp, Royal Exchange> Tchfunkta, Get Ready, Won't Wash Out, It's All Behind Me Now, Give Mom A Flower (Formerly known in the land of the internet as Donkey Punch)> Hook-n-Sling> 2 Clowns.
Set II Century City, Running Man, Backpack, *Hit The Wall, **As Big As Your Face, Tippi Toes, Size It Up, Live The Life I Love, Fire (Hendrix).
E: ***Rootdown> ***Quiet Please.
* w/ Topaz on Sax
** w/ Topaz on Sax and Glen Patrick on Keys
*** w/ Eric Krasno on Guitar
JamBase | NYC
Go See Live Music!