of the finest flavors in the south came together for a wild night of music and
mischief when one of New Orleans' freshest acts traded its Cajun sensibility
for one of authentic Texas barbeque to cook up a funktastic show in Austin.
After kicking off its ambitious "Sight of Sound" tour
in Dallas the night before, Galactic pulled
out all the stops at Stubb's BBQ for
a Halloween extravaganza, with the band in full regalia. A large and lively
Austin crowd was there to eat up every second of it.
When Galactic plays on Halloween they make it a point to join in on the fun,
and this year was no exception. Giving a nod to Stubb's reputation for the food
in its adjacent restaurant, the band took the stage adorned in uniform aprons
and fry cook hats, donning the appearance of a team of butchers straight out
of the 1950s. To give costume a spooky effect, the hats and aprons were splashed
with fake blood, and a skeleton figure representing Stubbs, the legendary barbeque
cook himself, sat on the stage throughout the show.
stage's backdrop is an integral part of the "Sight of Sound" tour
featuring the abstract artwork of New York's SKW and Doze Green.
These artists have made a name for themselves not only as visual artists, but
also in film and music. Although they have worked with diverse performers including
Smashing Pumpkins and Wynton Marsalis, the artists are known for their collaborations
with hip hop acts such as Shabba Ranks, Busta Rhymes, Mos Def and Guru.
Although the artists are expected to join Galactic onstage to paint along with
the music during shows later on the tour, they were not around for the Austin
stop. Nevertheless, the captivating backdrop mural, along with extra decorations
for Halloween created a distinct setting, which gave the show a unique vibe
unlike Galactic's typical setup.
But the multimedia aspect is one of the least obvious ways in which Galactic's
performance has evolved over the last few years. The band continues to get tighter
and more cohesive, as they incorporate new sounds into the mix. No longer just
a new-school funk band, Galactic creates a fusion of funk, jazz, rock, soul,
electronica and something altogether unique, and the jams get deeper while the
collaborations get more diverse. Their knack for long shows in their hometown
and beyond has given them the opportunity to develop the ability to groove and
improvise - both individually and collectively.
Halloween show started off with a bang. The band came out munching on sausage
and ribs, going along with the costume theme. After a brief warm-up jam, the
always impressive Stanton Moore took a drum solo using a rib bone in
place of one of his sticks during "Baker's Dozen." Though he started
the night playfully, Moore's drumming was deft and mesmerizing throughout the
night, hooking up with bassist Rob Mercutio to create Galactic's powerful
and multi-layered rhythmic core. The jam flowed effortlessly into "Moog
Marmalade," showcasing Rich Vogel's increasingly expansive keyboard
arsenal and Ben Ellman's hypnotizing saxophone.
Midway through the set, Theryl "Houseman" deClouet emerged
from a coffin onstage to assist the band with his soulful voice. Shortly thereafter,
Galactic welcomed saxophonist Brad Houser of Critters Buggin and The
New Bohemians to sit in for a few numbers. Houser's style complemented Ellman's
playing, and he stuck around for "Hit the Wall" and "Buckit Like
a Horse," which closed the set.
the break, there was a costume contest which gave the audience a chance to recognize
the more creative and ambitious members of the crowd. The band was onstage to
check out the action, and a $500 prize was at stake for the winner. Although
the crown was given to Papa Smurf, honorable mention should be given to a group
costume of The Royal Tenenbaum family, an uncanny resemblance of Buckethead
and, of course, a guy dressed up as a huge doobie, complete with smoke rising
from his head.
The second set was just as rowdy as the first, highlighted by an absolutely
raucous version of "Crazyhorse Mongoose" early on. Local talent Bruce
Hughes, formerly of The Scabs, joined the band on bass for "Root Down."
After he left the stage, the band kept churning out the funk, culminating with
a transcendent take on "Tiger Roll" to close things out. The show
ran long for Stubb's, which is subject to local noise ordinances, but downtown
Austin was just getting going when the Galactic crowd spilled into the streets.
With its musicianship, showmanship and unpredictable performances, Galactic
is emerging as one of the hottest live acts on the scene. The band's current
tour runs through the end of November, and supporting acts Mofro,
North Mississippi AllStars and Kid
Koala will be joining the action along the way. Galactic will close out
the year with three shows in California, including its third consecutive New
Year's Eve in San Francisco.
Words: Travis Langdon
Photos: Marcy Molitor
JamBase | Austin, Texas
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