First thing's first: Galactic is one hell of an instrumental band. Wherever it goes, the New Orleans-based group carries the spirit of Mardi Gras with it, and any venue is instantly turned into a block party on Bourbon Street. What makes one of its concerts all the more interesting is the cast of characters not just onstage but in the audience — and the spark of life Galactic seems to ignite in them.
Saturday was one of the very rare cold nights here in South Florida. It was most likely a small gift from the winter storm Jonas, the blizzard that's ravaged the Northeast all weekend. Regardless, the mostly older crowd bundled up to drink and smoke their way through a jamboree of genres.
Opening band the Record Company is a bluesy rock 'n' roll trio from L.A. The harmonica-happy three-piece is readying the release of its debut LP, Give It Back to You, next month. Summoning influences such as Buddy Guy and the Rolling Stones, the Record Company was a nice warm-up act for the fireworks yet to come.
As the crowd squeezed in for warmth, a laid-back vibe settled into the bones of the building that was merrily rattled once the six members of Galactic took the stage. They began with a pair of instrumental pieces before bringing out their current touring vocalist, Erica Falls, and really got the place moving. Falls, a New Orleans native raised in the Upper Ninth Ward, has been a backing vocalist for the likes of John Fogerty and Sting, but she had no problem being front and center when called upon.
Falls' voice was made for everything Galactic excels at – funk, jazz, and soul – and her singing was as rich and engaging as the rest of the band. Although each member got a chance to shine, including guitar and drum solos, the brass section killed it: saxophonist Ben Ellman, and particularly the outfit's latest addition, Corey Henry, on trombone.
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As the sextet was catching fire onstage, playing a good number of songs from its 2015 album, Into the Deep, Fort Lauderdale was busy lighting up in its own way. With a room full of adults with jobs and disposable income, Revolution was so thick with pot smoke, you could've climbed atop it and taken a nap. There's a good chance this was some sort of annual gathering of current and former hippies — reminiscent of Bonnaroo.
In fact, Galactic, a jam band for all types of dancing, regardless of rhythm or skill, is very much a Bonnaroo type of artist. This group of veteran musicians put on a clinic showing how to do it right and provided the soundtrack to all-night grooving, each fan swaying to the beat of his or her own inner drum/hallucinogen. Galactic would be welcome most anywhere a free-minded good time was needed — for instance a nudist summer camp, Carnival in Brazil, or the blacklight-drenched bedroom of a stoned teenager.
While the kids go rage at the EDM concerts, their parents are sneaking away with a baggie and a head full of long-forgotten dreams. From the young guy in neon-green 3D glasses to the biker behind him sporting shades and a chest-length white beard and the middle-aged woman in VIP dancing like a seductive genie newly released from her lamp prison, they were all in. Once Falls implored the crowd to get “rowdy,” they responded like a few hundred Key West revelers and joined in a party the Big Easy would have been proud of.