Galactic, Mike Gordon | 03.17.11

The night lived up to expectations: green all over, soaked, and rowdy, with some surprises and special moments.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pageant, St. Louis

 

When it was announced early this year that New Orleans funk/blues stompers Galactic would be playing the Pageant on St. Patrick’s Day, it seemed like the perfect recipe for a full day of Irish-style partying. What better, more Irish way to cap a day of debauchery than with seriously intense dancing? When it was later announced that Mike Gordon (Phish bassist, current solo artist, all-around interesting guy) and his supporting band would join Galactic on the bill, the party potential went even higher. The night lived up to expectations: green all over, soaked, and rowdy, with some surprises and special moments.

First off, likely the biggest surprise for many was LA-based, funky-beyond-belief, little-known opening band Orgone. There’s something truly thrilling about seeing an opener take the apathy normally given to that slot and immediately overcome it. This happens so rarely, and here the band probably had an assist from more social lubricant than is usual. But as Orgone has demonstrated in the recent past (this is their third appearance in St. Louis in the past seven months), they’ve got the chops, energy, and dedication to get even the most skeptical, uncaring (and sober) listeners moving. The band grooved through a short 25-minute set that covered some of their best work, including “Give It Up” and a cover of “Funky Nassau,” and those who had arrived at the Pageant early were very glad they did.

Following a brief break, Gordon and his band took the stage and launched into a 90-minute set surprisingly light on songs from his latest record, Moss. I am a big fan of Phish, and Gordon is the only member I had not seen before in a solo context. It was a solid, but strange, show and the near-capacity crowd seemed to love every minute of it. At the start of the set I was troubled that the band’s sound was so similar in many ways to that of Phish. But by the third song of the set, the jammed-out rocker “Walls Of Time,” I had set these concerns aside and surrendered to the energy, enthusiasm, and showmanship of Gordon and the band. I was rewarded with a solid cover of “Cities” and an extended, funky, terrific “Mound,” as well as more Gordon originals. Then came a wholly unexpected and—for me, anyway— wholly unwelcome cover of Alanis Morrisette’s “Hand In My Pocket.” At that point, Gordon’s set was effectively over, as the out-of-place cover brought the momentum to an unfortunate, caterwauling halt. I did enjoy the last couple of songs (including Phish’s “Sugar Shack”) but Morrisette had really taken the movement out of my feet, adding a strange layer to the otherwise enjoyable show.

And then, of course, it was time for Galactic, with special guests Cory “Boe Money” Henry on trombone and Cyril Neville of the famed Neville Brothers adding vocals. As usual, the boys from New Orleans brought out their signature wall of funky, bluesy, jazzy, and ultimately rocking sound, with special attention paid to the band’s latest, Ya-Ka-May. Neville lent the proceedings a classic R&B strut and assisted with percussion as well, while Boe Money brought his usual swagger and huge trombone prowess as he prowled the stage. By this point in the show the crowd was in an absolute frenzy, responding to every moment of spectacle—Cyril Neville posing and preening across the stage, Gordon joining on bass for “GoGo”—with urgent energy and manic dancing. It was what I imagine a late-night Dublin pub by way of New Orleans jazz club would feel like, and it was an excellent way to celebrate the luck o’ the Irish. | John Shepherd

 

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