Sunday, October 22, 2006

Galactic Goes Hollywood

The G-men brought their booty-shaking slamming New Orleans trip-funk to the House of Blues in West Hollywood where hippies and hipsters converged to pay tribute to one of the best live bands touring today.

The guys in Galactic are not just stellar musicians, but they are also one of the few direct links between the heart and soul of New Orleans and the rest of the world. For a few hours every night, no matter if they are playing in Tokyo, Boulder, or Copenhagen, they're the vehicle that magically transports the audience back to the Big Easy as they bring the "I hope you brought your sunglasses because we're party to dawn" mentality to your hometown.

Since the Houseman, Galactic's lead singer, left the band they substantially reduced their play list. New Orleans musicians always had a large repertoire due to their ability to cover traditional jazz standards and other local musicians' songs with relative ease and at the same time adding their own distinct sound to flavorful old school favorites. They know that the majority of the audience is not following them from city to city and catching multiple shows in a row, which means they could settle upon a core of 20-30 or so songs which they have been rotating every other show.

My setlist is incomplete but they pretty much played 75% of the songs I saw in Colorado at the end of the summer. And with a band like Galactic, they could play the exact setlist every night and it would still be an amazing ass-shaking experience.
10.21.06 Galactic, House of Blues, W. Hollywood, CA

Set 1: FEMA, The Moil, Tiger Roll > Bounce > Space Headz, ?? New Song, Bongo Joe > Kashmir

Set 2: Garbage Truck, Black Bird Special, Spiderbite, Doo Rag, Shibuya, ??, Bongo the Dog, Little Miss Lover

Encore: Quiet Please
The House of Blues is located on a hill on Sunset Blvd in West Hollyweird which boasts of decriminalized marijuana laws and plenty of tranny hookers. I was told by Showcase that the IHOP around the corner is tranny hooker central, the epicenter of the freakiest of the freaks.

I went to the show with Nicky, Showcase, and his new girlfriend Tina. Nicky drove and we were worried that the valet guys would rummage through the car looking for weed once they whiffed the aroma of a recently smoked medicinal marijuana.

We walked in just at the start of the opening band's set. The Stanton Moore Trio opened up as Galactic's drummer took the stage with two musicians, Will Bernard (guitar) and Brian Coogan (organ), who played in support of his recent solo album. I heard Licorice and Weak Sauce. They were a nice warm up as the late arriving crowd slowly trickled in.

During Stanton Moore's last song of the opening set, I kept my eyes on one corner where a barefoot wookie and his girlfriend twirled around while a few feet in front of them, a couple of industry folks were drinking Grey Goose cocktails while checking their email on their Blackberries.

During the break, Stanton signed a few CDs by the merchandise table. I happened to be walking by after taking a piss and I found myself face to face with Stanton Moore, who I've always suspected was an alien since the first time I saw him play. I'm a few inches taller than Stanton and said, "Hamp's Hump. Time to break it out."

He laughed and gave me a look like, "Not tonight, pal."

I happened to see Galactic's setlist at the soundboard and I didn't see Hamp's Hump on the list. That's why I had to ask.

The House of Blues was almost full, but the floor was crowded for the first set. The G-men opened up the first set with a new tune called FEMA. From the moment they started, the sound at the HOB was high quality and they boys were shredding it up. FEMA is a song inspired by Hurricane Katrina and there are moments when the song takes on a dark and spooky vibe and at times it feels bittersweet. Rich Vogel on keys stepped up right away on FEMA and aside from Stanton, he might have played the best out of the rest of the band.

DJ Kwiki Mart joined the band and scratched away on his turn tables during Bongo Joe. He's from New Orleans and recently relocated to the LA area. After a heavy Bongo they quickly segued into Led Zeppelin's Kashmir which brought an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd as the energy level increased exponentially. Ben Ellman mimicked Robert Plant's lyrical wailings with his saxophone as Stanton Moore kept the hard-rocking driving pace to close the set. The first set was quick, tight, and intense.

During the setbreak, Nicky and I wandered outside while mostly everyone went outside to smoke cigarettes. The late arrivers were valet parking while we sat on the curb admiring one guy who looked like Jesus except he wore a purple bathrobe. One chick slowly got out of her BMW wearing sunglasses (at Midnight) while yapping on her cellphone and rubbing her burning nostrils. She wore black hooker boots and what appeared to be just an oversized white dress shirt as her outfit. I wondered if she had anything underneath as she stumbled over to the VIP entrance.

At setbreak I went back to the bar where one bartender had been hooking me up with triple SoCos. AlCantHang would have been proud. For $10, the guy poured me a glass (all the way to the rim) of SoCo with a little ice. I estimated that each drink was at least three shots possibly more. I had three of those and by the middle of the second set, I was properly intoxicated.

Spiderbite and Doo Rag were the highlights of the set until they boys kicked it into their highest uber-funk gear with Shibuya. The house lights came on and the crowd jumped up and down as the floorboards began to shake. The harder the band played, the rowdier the crowd got during the climax of Shibuya. Jeff Raines' busted out a few licks on guitar that would have made James Brown turn around and shout, "A fuckin' white boy played that?"

Little Miss Lover without the Houseman was interesting since I'm used to hearing him on vocals. That's one of the few Houseman tunes which they kept in rotation and played all instrumental without a guest singer.

They threw the crowd a curveball with a Quiet Please encore. I was expecting a Zeppelin or Meters cover to close the show but their slowed down and spaced up version was impressive nonetheless.

On the whole, Galactic has been consistently tight and solid for the last four shows that I've seen them play. Gets me excited to see the G-men in Las Vegas in a few days. They're playing New Orleans for New Year's Eve and I'm tempted to go down to the Big Easy and see them ring in 2007.

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