We stopped off at a head shop on Pearl Street in Boulder.
"Back to school sale," mentioned the Joker.
The basement store was filled with CU students returning from summer break and looking to pick up glass bowls, pipes, and bongs. I spotted a nice pipe for the Joker that had a frog on it.
The drive to Fort Collins was short, but we got lost once we got into town. We eventually found College Avenue where the Aggie Theatre is located. I've been to Fort Collins a couple of times. It's a college town and the home of Colorado State University. Aside from that it's just the mid-way point between Denver and Cheyenne. During my first trip to Fort Collins in 1998, I caught the Ominous Seapods at the Aggie. I drove down from Laramie, Wyoming in a snowstorm just to catch the Pods show.
We arrived early and parked in the lot behind the theatre. The Joker snagged a spot just behind Galactic's tour bus. We could hear the band on stage doing a soundcheck. They busted into Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song and that would be a teaser for what to expect.
We wandered down College Avenue and were confronted with the alluring sounds of bag pipes. The local community heard we were coming and rolled out the Fort Collins Pipe Band for us as they played in front of an Irish pub. We ended up eating and drinking at the Crown Pub across the street. We hit up a local college saloon, the Drunken Monkey which featured buckets of Coronas for $5. The waitresses were all young hotties wearing jean skirts, tight white wife-beater t-shirts and cowboy hats. The also did hoola hoop tricks. I ordered a SoCo and called AlCantHang for a dial-a-shot.
We did some people watching and aside from a bevy of young and pretty coeds, there were plenty of freaks out, which surprised the Joker. He expects weirdness in Boulder and to be contained within said city limits. There were numerous homeless people and drifters coming over asking for spare change, long with the odd sort of hippie kids trying to scratch enough money together for a $25 ticket to see Galactic.
One spun out wookie chick stopped us, "Can you spare a few bucks? I only need $3 more to buy a ticket."
I pulled out my poker bankroll and pushed aside a few hundreds as her eyes lit up. I found a wrinkly $1 bill and handed it to her.
"Now you are only $2 short."
I fucked up. I could have gotten her to do some sort of prop bet for the cash. I wanted to say, "Hey if you blow the Joker in the parking lot and let me watch and jack off, I'll give you $3. I'll give you $5 if you let me videotape it."
Another sketched out wookie told us he was $10 short for a ticket.
"That's OK," he assured us, "I have my crystals."
He had a box of crystals that he was hoping to trade. On various tours, wookies use items like rocks and crystals to barter for tickets, foods, and drugs.
The Aggie is a small place which has three levels separated by a few steps. We walked into the ALO set about ten minutes in. They were mellow and reminded me of a funky version of The Band.
"They had funky beats but none of the guitar or keyboards were very hard. They had grooves but the harmonies were light and fluffy," explained the Joker. "It was clean funk."
Two songs that stood out were Plastic Bubble and Ophelia, which is a cover song originally performed by The Band. The crowd was into ALO and were dancing around.
During the break we headed out to the parking to smoke up and we saw ALO loading up their van. A SUV pulled up blocking the exit. Out walked an older guy with a parrot on his shoulder. He left his dog in the car, which still had the keys in the ignition. A 10,000 Maniacs song blasted as the guy with the parrot disappeared and returned five minutes later. We assumed that he owned the Aggie Theatre.
8.25.06 Galactic, Aggie Theatre, Fort Collins, COGalactic took the stage around 10:30 and they opened up with a new tune called FEMA. The guys in Galactic were on the road when Hurricane Katrina hit. They were safe but they lost all their houses, practice space, and many of their instruments. They stayed on the road and kept playing adding new tour dates because they didn't have a home to go to.
Set 1: FEMA, Crazyhorse Mongoose, Spiderbite, Black Bird Special, Centhead, The Moil, Licorice (Stanton Moore tune), Yes We Can (with ALO), Bongo Joe > Kashmir
Set 2: Shibuya, Backtalk, Tiger Roll > Bounce Baby > Space Headz, Bongo the Dog, Black Eye Pea > Trampled Under Foot > Black Eye Pea, Metermaid > 2 Dots, Garbage Truck
Encore: Manic Depression
Galactic was in flux before the Hurricane hit. The Houseman left the band and they were without a lead singer and were just an instrumental band. Although I was critical of the Houseman over the years, his departure sent the band into a spin. They were kinda lost without him and the formula they were used to. They'd open up and play four songs, then they Houseman would come out for four, then they'd close the set with a couple more tunes. Repeat for Set 2. Without the Houseman, they focus was on them the entire time. Sure they brought out guests from time to time on vocals, but the last 1.5 years of Galactic was a transitional phase. With the Hurricane hitting New Orleans, they were forced to stay out on the road and work out new material. That time away from home did they good. And a song like FEMA galvanized the headspace where the band is at right now.
Crazyhorse Mongoose is a crowd pleaser off of one of their earliest albums. The guys figured out the acoustics of the Aggie and adjusted by the middle of CM. The sound was great and you could actually hear the Jeff Raines on guitar, who sometimes gets drowned out by Stanton's thunderous drum playing, Bobby Mac's deep bass, Ben's sax, or Vogel's paino/keys action.
Spiderbite was a tune I liked. They got down in The Moil before they did a Stanton Moore tune called Licorice. Then the guys from ALO came out on stage to sign a Doobie Brothers cover Yes I Can. That got the crowd jumping. The last two songs were epic and represented some of the best playing I've seen Galactic break out in over two years. Bongo Joe > Kashmir kicked my ass. The Joker and I heard the soundcheck and knew Zeppelin was coming. Their version of Kashmir is one of the best cover version I've heard.
We ran outside for setbreak and came back inside. The crowd thinned a bit and there was more room to dance and hang out. One drunk guy kept pestering the Joker's friends, Andy and Debbie. He'd leave and come back and he continued his annoying gibberish.
The boys opened up with Shibuya and it was all Stanton Moore. The reason I fly and travel long distances to see Galactic is because of Stanton Moore. He's the best drummer on the planet and he's worth 1.5 members of Phish. Stanton is like Fish plus half of Trey.
Tiger Roll > Bounce Baby > Space Headz was a nice little sandwich of tunes before Black Eye Pea which they managed to squeeze Trampled Under Foot before heading back into Black Eye Pea. The boys were 2 for 2 with Zeppelin covers. The crowd loved every second of it. That was the highlight of set 2.
They closed the set strong with a mellow Metermaid segued into 2 Dots. They closed with Garbage Truck and as they left the stage I was bummed out. I wanted to hear more. They were playing so tight that I'd stay up until dawn to see them.
The encore was a rocking Jimi Hendrix' Manic Depression.
"Galactic ditched the Houseman for classic rock tunes," suggested the Joker.
That seems to be the direction that they've taken, adding a few covers to the spicy New Orleans mix that they've been bringing for almost a decade.
The Fort Collins show reminded me of the Galactic shows I saw in 1999 and 2000 when they were a collection of tightly bundled frenetic energy.
One down, three more to go.
We headed to an after-show party at a warehouse in Boulder. The Code Talkers were playing and they were kicking ass in a small space that's usually used as a recording studio. It cost us $10 to get in which meant free music and all you can drink beer. Like a typical Boulder party, dogs freely roamed the party brushing past you every few seconds.