GALACTIC MEDICINE WILL MAKE YOU GROW

It is my belief that just about every band out there is trying to go Galactic, but there can be only one. When they go off, they live up to their name. All of the elements come together and make for a swamp stompin’, rootsalicious good time.

They played through, “Doublewide,” with a funky sickness that really got everyone movin’ and it was then that the show really started shakin’ our souls loose. Ben Ellman’s harp was speakin’ in tongues for the spiritually impaired from that moment onward.

Whenever they bring out the samurai of style, you know you are being treated to greatness. About halfway through the first set, Theryl de’Clouet came out of the red haze in a mustard-yellow leather three-piece suit with black leather gloves, ready to get down and conjure some gritty lovin’ for those of us still chilled to the bone by the freakish snowstorm that blew in from nowhere. He led us through, “Running Man,” with his wild presence. His voice matches the music perfectly and anyone who asks why he is even there will never know the answer.

To close things out during the first set, "Houseman" reminded us that, “It’s all behind you now,” while Jeff Raines’ guitar screamed with this tormented, howling darkness that enveloped the crowd. The fact that Galactic can get heavy and sinister is what makes them so damn good.

The second set started right where they left us, pushing us and pulling as Galactic took off down a gravelly, winding hill with no brakes and no thoughts of stopping. The band is able to pull off this sonic dream collage that sets them apart as the prime mover in the scene. As their name implies, they are light years beyond the status quo.

When Jeff broke out the slide again I came to realize that this entire band is the crossroads. Richard Vogel was concocting this formula with his keys that broke down the walls of the temple. Robert Mercurio was transporting the crowd between dimensions on his bass, locking up with Stanton Moore who was helming the muthaship with his arms and legs, pulling his best attempt at Vishnu incarnate. They produced a gospel of truth and wonder, turning the theatre into a cavernous wailing hall of salvation. When you throw the harp and sax on top of it all courtesy of Ben, you just cannot get any better. Or so I thought.

After they “Hit The Wall,” they brought out a surprise for us all: Kenny Liner of The Bridge. Our hometown acoustic beat-box jammed with Galactic, and they loved it! Stanton was beaming and Robert had this face-splittin’ grin stretched real wide across his mug. Ben was going wild, hopping all about on the stage at this wonderful musical moment. Now if you have no idea who Kenny is, you will. He plays mandolin for The Bridge. However, he has this neurotic gift that just makes everyone real happy. He can beat-box. He can also scribble and scratch in ways that make most DJs look the fool. All of this he can create with only his natural voice and breath. When you throw that in with a Galactic mixture, you’re liable to create another star system way out on the cusp of the universe. It was just that damn good. I have a feeling that will not be the last time Kenny goes Galactic.

After Kenny left the stage they broke out the “Black Eyed Pea,” that had a haunting grind to it. The keys mixing with the sax made that song spill all over the cracks and crevices of our shared mind. But it was when Theryl came out again that the temperament of the night was somewhat exemplified. They played Skynard’s, “Saturday Night Special,” then preceded to pay tribute to The Dirty Dozen Brass Band with, “Baker’s Dozen,” and that really made me jiggle. They spiced it up with all sorts of quadraphonic gumbo and my belly was brimming with interplanetary grease.

After a Galactic show, it takes me awhile to reacquaint myself with the way the world is. They always leave me with this feeling that the only message we need to send into space is one that rides on a Galactic wave of grace. To have a brotherhood of musicians out there making folks feel that good is what sharing the sacred sound is all about. And that is what I suppose means feelin’ Galactic.

Words by: L Wollan
Images by: Jaci Downs
JamBase | Maryland
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[Published on: 2/12/03]

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