TVD Live: Galactic
at the 9:30 Club, 2/23

Funk band Galactic has an uncanny ability to create a musical canvas that could lend itself to other styles of music.

This technique is very casual as you watch them play. One moment, a band member or guest commandeers a horn, and then he or she is prone to transition to jazz vocals or staccato rap verses. It’s a natural movement intrinsic to the New Orleans band. And they were generous to the crowd last Thursday night at the 9:30 Club.

There was a royal, luminescent “G” that sat high above the bands. So, by time Galactic began their set it almost glistened a little brighter than for their opener. Trombonist Corey Henry from Rebirth Brass Band led the wild, riffy, musical unrest with the arm of a marksman. This young man was able to bend a note into taffy. He hardly broke a sweat as he went into a spiritual possession, articulating notes at the speed of greased lightning. The comfort level in the crowd was convivial and worldly. Henry channeled the mastery of James Brown’s session trombonist, Fred Wesley.

Corey Glover, of funk-metal band Living Colour, was the show’s main vocalist. Since the release of Vintage Reserve, Galactic’s sound advanced to a new evolutionary state. And Glover proves himself a worthy cantante to harness the band’s melodies into one. Glover uses his own voice as an accompanying instrument to Galactic’s set. The rocker charmed the crowd with scat singing and funky high-pitched intonations. The band’s drummer, Stanton Moore, broke one in with Glover with the song “Hey Na Na.” From their new album, “Hey Na Na” is a red-hot anthem, a musical altercation between drum and guitar.

Galactic’s latest album, Carnivale Electricos, is their most unique yet. It’s an arousing mix of marching band, zydeco, blues, samba and New Orleans crunk. Electricos doesn’t reinvent but rather re-orchestrates the sounds of Fat Tuesday’s past and present. The players draw parallels between Carnaval music domestically and internationally. Electricos has little grey area; Galactic makes a place for all musical guests.

So, anecdotally, Galactic’s epic last act with all performers—the two Coreys and openers the Soul Rebels—felt like an earnest homecoming. The elements of classic and contemporary style may go off track for a while, but inevitably they find each other.

The Soul Rebels opened the show with selections from albums past and present. The house was packed with a primarily new generation of young funk- and brassheads eager to fight for a groove, and the men on stage took advantage of the energy within the club. The Rebels were a small army of seven or eight men equipped with percussion, brass and woodwinds.

Their rhythms were taut and soulful. It was enough to make the crowd dance to submission. Watching the men rotate arrangements on stage makes me wonder if that local street brass ensemble you see at the DuPont Circle Metro sought guidance from the Rebels’ style. It almost felt like the pre-Lenten festivities (in DC, at least) got an extension so no one would miss out.

Photos by David Y. Lee via 9:30 Club

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