Music

The New Orleans band Galactic played at Outerland for the Vineyard Gumbo Festival closing party Saturday night. Photo by Ben Scott
The hit New Orleans band Galactic played at Outerland for the Vineyard Gumbo Festival closing party Saturday night. Photo by Ben Scott

Galactic bang and sizzle seasons Gumbo

By Julian Wise - July 27, 2006

The only time the dancing stopped at the Galactic concert at Outerland on July 22 was when the dance floor got too crowded for people to muster much more than a shoulder-to-shoulder shuffle. A capacity crowd packed the club to close out the week-long Vineyard Gumbo celebration by cheering on the funk/groove outfit from New Orleans.

For the past week Islanders had taken in a heady splash of New Orleans culture during Vineyard Gumbo, a celebration of the Crescent City's vibrant joie de vivre that featured exhibitions by chefs, musicians, and scholars from the imperiled city. Proceeds from the events went to the New Orleans Musician's Clinic, a charity that provides health care and vital services to members of the New Orleans musical community and other organizations. The Galactic show ended the celebration with a bang and a sizzle as the band raised the roof and shook the foundation of the club.

Galactic began in 1994 as a New Orleans funk outfit. Since releasing its debut album on Fog City Records, the band has made five more records and embarked on a decade-long touring spree that shows no sign of slowing down, whisking them from New York to Japan. At Outerland, the band showed why they're one of the hottest acts on the touring circuit. The rhythm section of drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio created a rollicking foundation that combined the precision of speed jazz and the swagger of a New Orleans street band. Keyboardist Rich Vogel shed squealing organ riffs that punctuated the music, while guitarist Jeff Raines played chicken-scratch wah-wah grooves that floated among popping bass notes. Saxophonist Ben Ellman blew white-hot solos that had the crowd screaming in approval. By the end of the evening, the audience exited the club in a dizzy, sweat-drenched daze from the band's furious grooves and rhythms.

Julian Wise is a frequent contributor to The Times, specializing in music, film, and the performing arts.