The beer flowed and spilled in equally epic proportions as the
scene-seeking denizens of New Orleans packed Tipitina's to hear
Galactic. This three night stand at Tip's was recorded for an upcoming live album.
The Lil' Rascals Brass Band opened the show, playing in true
brass band tradition down in the crowd. The ever-growing crowd
seemed to have little problem following the Lil' Rascals
exhortations to "get your head right." This gave Tipitina's the
air of a very, very good cocktail party in which lapses in
conversation were filled by second line drumming and blaring
The Lil' Rascals were joined for part of their set by former
member Ben Ellman, who coincidentally ended up playing for
most of Galactic's two sets.
Galactic started their 1st set well after midnight and the sound
was crisp and clear (here's to the sound guys). The band of
course took advantage of this and began to lay the groundwork
for the jams that would later blast the roof off of Tip's.
Tunes that stood out the most in the 1st set included a cover of
the Dakartis' "Dakarti Walk," and an absolutely sick set-closing
jam featuring the Lil' Rascals Brass Band pushing the funk to
dangerous levels (it will be a grave injustice if this does not
make the album). It was also nice to hear an old song, "There's
Something Wrong With This Picture" performed with focus, with
every single solo, fill, backbeat, and vocal perfectly placed.
After the roadies made sure the cymbals were aligned at the
appropriate angles, the wires to the Moog were aligned in the
proper green, purple, yellow pattern, Jeff Raines' guitar foot
effects were arranged in the shape of a poorly combed afro, and
each and every candle was lit and projecting the proper aura,
Galactic took the stage for the 2nd set.
Following the precedent they had just set for having the longest
setbreak in history, Galactic commenced a monster 2nd set that
lasted over two hours. The first song twisted and turned and
peaked and crested and incited a brawl between two women in the
front of the crowd. This no-holds-barred brawl must have taken
its inspiration from the raucous zig-zagging grooves being
produced by the band, as the two women careened back and forth,
bouncing off of surprised patrons and successfully drawing some
of the more excitable men in the crowd into the fisticuffs. It
took several minutes for the Tip's staff to quell the uprising
and throw the combatants out into the night, and during all of
this the band played on.
The next notable occurrence in the 2nd set was the reemergence
of Theryl "the Houseman" DeClouet, Galactic's soulful singer.
While there are those who are critical of the direction the
Houseman leads the band during his appearances (i.e. the
anti-vocals and anti-showmanship crowd), I don't see how anyone
could disparage the Houseman Friday night. He was ON. Nattily
attired, as per usual, in only the sharpest of suits, the
Houseman was a swaggering soul machine who was just nailing his
vocals. His rich, gravelly voice was in top condition and I was
truly moved by the Houseman's performance for the first time
since 1998, when I saw him glide onto the stage of the Bayou in
Washington D.C. wearing a sequined jacket with a blazing sun on
the back. That night he slew the crowd with his gruff crooning,
and his Friday night performance was similarly impressive.
The post-Houseman section of the 2nd set was filled with spacey,
free-flowing groove jams featuring Stanton Moore's assault on
his drum kit, Rich Vogel's rich organ, and Rob Mercurio's thick
steady bass lines. This is the Galactic that I like best, the
Galactic that is often overshadowed these days by their newer
material (fast and crazy Delta blues licks over an intense
The encore brought some of the above mentioned wild, rocking
guitar driven madness, and prompted an unkempt and disheveled
fellow riding the rail in front of Jeff Raines to give Jeff the
Ozzy salute, pumping his v-shaped fist into the air repeatedly
and banging his head. At least in this fellow's head, Jeff was
summoning the spirit of Randy Rhodes.
To be honest, this dude was on to something, because the last
song of the encore was Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" and it did
indeed rock. So I would like to conclude this review by giving
props to drunken clairvoyant headbanger. I would also like to
note that if the recording gurus did their job properly, the
live album that is being compiled from this three night stand at
Tip's should be a heck of a listen.
JamBase New Orleans Correspondent
Go See Live Music!