GALACTIC AT THE 9: 30 CLUB: WASHINGTON, DC

So, yeah I'll admit, it's not the same old Galactic show of the past, but being a fan of these guys for awhile now, it's understanding that they're in need of something fresh. Change lies at the heart of this tour and their new supporting album Ruckus. In my opinion, we haven't really heard a "new" album from Galactic, since Crazyhorse Mongoose. I know they released Late for the Future since then, but that was really a studio recording of stuff you'd been hearing live for years.

Now, I know we all like to hear a completely different set from show to show, but you've got to give them some room, from tour to tour, to work out the bugs and potential in their newest work. Besides the older tunes they pulled out were completely different between shows and truly seemed to take new direction and inspiration in their jams.

Yes some songs are short, really leaving you wanting more, while others stretch into deeper depths, surfacing as a new kinda vibe within the group as a whole. Overall it really just seems like cohesion is their theme. Instead of instrumental jam sessions mixed with the standard two or three song Houseman breaks, you're introduced to the one to two song revue stylings of The Houseman and Miss Teedy, maybe three or four times per set. The timing of these revues seem more a part of the flow then what I'm used to seeing with Galactic. In other words, the vocal melodies really seem to be more in sync with the rest of the set's musical vibe.

So if they decide to sacrifice the "jam potential" of a new tune and end it early, so be it. If that inspires them to blow my head off on the next one, then it's worth it. This "striving for balance" shows me their desire to advance their technique to a new and inspired level. It's Galactic's willingness to grow and stay fresh, that's kept me listing to them for this long.

One of the reasons for this new found sync is definitely the back-up and part-time lead vocals of the beautiful Miss Teedy. She's dripping in soul and has a sexy, deep growl that truly complements and matches the Houseman's style. On both of her solo tunes, "Higher Ground" and "Whole Lotta Love," she took a lead that really matched her back bands intensity. She had the crowd begging for more and really seemed to have a great connection with Ben and Stanton. "Higher Ground" stood out as a unique version of this popular cover. Kind of dark and evil if you can imagine Higher Ground that way, it's similar to how Karl D. made "Let the Music take your Mind" his own dark little funk groove.

I have to make mention of Galactic's new toys as well. Big props to their new video artist. His attention to the music and variety of elements created a mesmerizing backdrop ranging from the abstract to straight bizarre. Intense and strangely hypnotizing footage of Evil Knievel snapping every bone in his body, really matched the evil intensity of "Doomed." Great to see Ben switching over to his digital rhythm pad, to bust out some great beats and effects. Also, nice to see the return of the stage cam, going from guitar to bass to drum kit to keys. This little cam gave a whole new attention to the details.

Great to see all the sit-ins on the first night from The Duo, Joe and Marco. They were having a lot of fun up there amping Stanton to new levels and Marco really brought the keys out in fine form for his bat at "Hamp's Hump."

Second night stood out as my favorite, really getting going in the 2nd set with the high-impact rhythm of "Hoss" and diving straight into a great version of "Doublewide." This "Doublewide" however didn't have the same old "3rd Stone," or mystery train inside, instead we were treated with the unforgettable bass of "Rappers Delight" into "Let me Clear My Throat." Bobby Mac was all about the slap for this little segue and they slipped right back out into "Doublewide" without missing a step. From here we got another Miss Teedy solo, mastering "Whole Lotta Love" with a Tina Turner kinda style and intensity. Kid Kenner had me on the trampoline all the way into "Tiger Roll" > "Space Heads March." This was the perfect way to finish off the final set of this two-show run. Six songs of straight Galactic groove that just couldn't get any tighter.

That is until they dipped into "Bakers Dozen" for the encore. I could recognize that 13 beat rhythm anywhere and they finished it off with classic Galactic style, proving that they still had the chops to jam it out when necessary.

In the end I walked away with a full belly of funk and some new inspiration for the groove. I only wish I had the gas money to get to NYC this weekend for the Roseland show. Does anyone see a Rootdown with a tight little Talib Kweli freestyle in the future...?

Words and Images by: Gene Felice
JamBase | Washington
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[Published on: 11/20/03]

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