Posted by Nathan Etter on 11/03 at 10:08 PM
When it comes to New Orleans funk, few do it better than Galactic. Last Wednesday at The State Theatre, the veteran five-man group captivated the crowd all night with energetic jams, a dazzling light show, and the help of a trombone-playing prodigy, Corey Henry.
The show opened with the thumping house bass of DJ and mash-up artist The Hood Internet. Sporting an elevated Macbook with two Rubik’s Cube-inspired lights on either side, The Hood Internet’s sophisticated techno tracks—which sampled such eclectic hits as Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and The Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer”—transformed the small theatre into an urban club atmosphere. The entire set featured a projector screen swirling with unusual images (a flashing Nintendo controller with the phrase “Player One, Press Start”, for example) and the words The Hood Internet never leaving the screen.
While The Hood Internet succeeded in creating a unique dance experience, the monotony of his trance bass and hauntingly high lyric samples had the majority of the audience unwilling to give in. With the exception of a dozen dedicated ravers in the front row and a few isolated fans rolling to the music at their seats, the crowd interest was at a minimum during the set.
That all changed when the curtain was pulled and the members of Galactic took their positions. Introducing the audience to their impressive light show and multitude of digital screens set up throughout the stage, the band immediately burst into a powerhouse jam in which each member was given ample opportunity to improvise and display the musical chops they had developed after over a decade on the road. Throughout the show, Galactic’s ability to both stay tight during complex jazz runs and also feed off the experimentation of the designated soloist was on full display.
While the core band of Stanton Moore on drums, Robert Mercurio on bass, Jeff Raines on guitar, Ben Ellman on saxophone, and Richard Vogal on Hammond organ had the crowd dancing from the moment they stepped on stage, it was the stellar horn work and inciting antics of guest musician Corey Henry that stole the show. Rocking baggy pants, sunglasses, and a backwards Penn State cap, Henry displayed confidence and charisma.
His showmanship and swagger—whether rapping, blasting mind-blowing trombone solos into the air, or joining the audience to crowd-surf or play trombone in the aisles—had me wondering what he would do next. At one point in the show, Henry had the entire crowd crouched on the floor, only to erupt into a jumping frenzy as a jam climaxed. Even those in the back row looked around awkwardly and then leapt from their feet.
Drummer Stanton Moore was in top form for the entirety of set as well. Moore, perhaps the most well-known member of Galactic, illustrated his unique sticking techniques and played his trashy cymbals while effortlessly grooving to beats that combined aspects of funk, jazz, and hip-hop. His epic solo to end the set was a masterful piece .
For over two hours, Galactic continued playing their signature style of gritty, danceable funk. Although some songs were overpowered by Ellman and Henry, they provided an extended back and forth between trumpet and trombone that provided yet another highlight of the evening. Collectively, Galactic electrified the State College crowd with a performance that will not soon be forgotten.
Author: Nathan Etter
Bio: Nate Etter is a senior double-majoring in public relations and political science with a passion for live music. In his spare time he drums in local bands (British Phil, The Twisted Groove), plays basketball, and writes. He enjoys a wide variety of music but remains obsessed with funk in all its forms. Favorite bands include Gov't Mule, Galactic, Incubus, Garaj Mahal, and The Avett Brothers.
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