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.
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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.