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Review Tue Feb 10 2015

Galactic Brings the Mardi Gras Party @ Concord, 2/6

"This is NOT a jam band," I insisted to my friend on Saturday evening at Concord Music Hall as we waited patiently for the show from revered New Orleans funk outfit Galactic to begin. No offense to those who prefer jam bands, I have just never been able to enjoy their music as much as I have tried. Though Galactic's own site description touts their identity as a funk and jazz jam band, their description is much more intricate as it is entwined with traditions of music that has emerged before their time, which created a one-of-a-kind experience for those in attendance.

San Francisco group Monophonics opened up the show with an energy-packed set. A musical army setting up camp onstage, the group ensemble featured vocals, drums, trumpet, saxophone, and more. Formed from three previous ensembles, the group began with a variety of live performances in the Bay area, and released their first album, self-produced, in 2006. Adding two more albums throughout their career, the Monophonics have built a loyal fan base and intriguing, ear-catching sounds. Lead vocalist Kelly Finnigan's voice is smooth and pristine, allowing for the emotion and force that comes with singing soul music. The heartache-ridden "Deception" was the standout moment of the set for me, when wailing vocals were complemented by careening horn backdrops. They ended their strong set with one of their most popular tunes, "Bang Bang," a dark and delectable crowd-pleaser.

To truly engage the audience in the spirit of a New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration, a second line parade marched through the crowd in between acts, keeping the festive spirit alive and well. Galactic emerged to a funk intro, with the five members of the group stepping onstage shortly after. Immediately, the bar was set very high for a set entwined with the spirit of New Orleans. Ben Ellman stunned with lengthy saxophone solos that left us wanting more, with each moving piece of the group's synchronicity perfectly in tact. Their set list drew from medleys from their plethora of albums throughout the years, intermingled with classic soul riffs.

One of Galactic's integral qualities is their ability to invite other notable musicians for the distinct and valuable collaborations that pepper their discography. From New Orleans legend Trombone Shorty, to Mystikal, to Allen Toussaint, the range is wide and unfettered. On Saturday evening, notable vocalist Erica Falls joined them for her set, much to our enjoyment. Falls is a born and bred New Orleans musician, and the soul shows through with every note that she sings. Commanding the stage, and our attention along with it, Falls was able to enhance Galactic's stellar instrumental offerings with her shimmering vocals and the utmost performing confidence. The percussive ballad, "Heart of Steel," originally recorded with Irma Thomas, was completely transformed in its live setting with Falls as its complement. It is absolutely clear that she performs music with her heart first, allowing the vibrant accompaniments to truly influence her and create versions of songs that are all her own, energized and established. Sets including Falls were broken up by meandering instrumental interludes, showcasing Galactic's heart and raw talent for creating high-quality funk music, as the party went on until midnight and beyond.

With Chicago transforming into the spirited New Orleans landscape for an evening, Concord Music Hall became a Mardi Gras party, enveloped with a rich history communicated through music. New Orleans weaves together a vast musical collective, from soul, to jazz, to zydeco, and more. Galactic is able to interweave these tenets of music's history within their catalog, creating a seamless blend of tunes. Though they may identify as a jam band, they are so much more: With each song they perform, a bit of history is shared with us, too.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
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