Sunday, April 23, 2006

Galactic @ The Roxy - Point / Counterpoint

By Josh Lamkin

POINT: By Lamkini

I can't speak for Dmac, but I'm not a big jam band music fan. I don't dig the music unless it's like the top one percent of the top one percent of skill level, and I don't generally dig glow sticks, or trippy pseudo-hippy bellydancing. I will say that I do love how much jam band fans love jam band music. They fucking LOVE being at jam band shows, and that's definitely not the case with like the disaffected Emo cutter crowd that you find at...well, a lot of shows I like. So basically what I'm saying is that I went to this Galactic show already not liking the brand of music they play so take everything I'm about to say with a grain of salt.

I hated the Galactic show. I hated the skunky smell that filled the air while people furtively hit joints deep in the crowd. I hated the mediocre musicianship. I hated the run-down venue. I hated the overpriced drinks. I hated the overpriced ticket (thank you Ticketmaster). I hated the opening bands. I hated it.

I did like a few things, and to prove it I will now tell you what they were. Everyone I saw at this show was in a good mood. That was awesome. Good vibe in there. The drummer for Galactic, Stanton Moore, was fantastic, just fantastic. Stanton Moore was basically the only thing I liked about Galactic, and luckily he had a drum solo in every single song (ok that did get old, but whatever, work it if you got it, right?). Galactic's second set was much better than their first set. Starting with the first song, which was apparently a Tower Of Power cover, and continuing into the second song, which was sort of an old-school, James Brownesque soul/funk groove, the grooves were much more accessible and easily identifiable. Also, one of the opening bands, Stooges Music Group, joined Galactic on a good portion of the songs for the evening, and the extra horns added a lot to the overall band sound.

I heard Galactic used to have a guy who was lead singer and was amazing but he's left the band and the rest of the band decided to keep on truckin' without him. I really would have liked to have seen Galactic in that formation, but I doubt it would've helped me like them more. I found myself the entire evening wishing I was at a Karl Denson's Tiny Universe show (find out where KDTU is playing and buy a ticket NOW if you haven't seen them). The level of musicianship in Galactic, excluding the drummer, was just not up to the level it needed to be at to be an all instrumental band. The grooves didn't have that thing that makes me (not a dancer) wanna dance, nor did they have that thing that makes me hum the melodies or keep bobbing my head long after I've left the show.

In the end, I left the show humming the theme song to Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and Galactic didn't even play that. Max Weinberg and the Max Weinberg 7--now that's a kickass band.


I actually can speak for D-Mac, so I will. I would not consider myself a "big jam band music fan" either, by anyone's standards, but I do appreciate good music, whichever unfortunate moniker happens to be attached to it. Some of the bands I really like happen to be lumped in with the "jam band" scene, which I have no problem with. If this means I have to sit through a five-piece electric kazoo ensemble doing their best reproduction of the 33-minute "Mountain Jam" off the Allman Brothers Band's Eat A Peach record in its entirety while saving my spot on the lawn for the funk/soul band that I came to see then so be it. I'm a trooper. I won't promise to like it but I'll keep an open mind.

Now admittedly, my musical palate is quite selective, however my concert-going standards are probably not as high as Lamkini's are. Being more of a perfectionist (in a good way) with his own music, Lamkini also demands the most out of the musicians he pays his hard-earned Lincolns (or Jacksons in this case, thanks Ticketmaster) to see. I totally respect that. I don't always agree with it, but I respect it.

After reading Lamkini's review of last Friday's Galactic show, I must say that even when applying the prescribed amount of salt, I still find some of his points a little hard to swallow. Allow me to expound.

If you don't know what you're getting yourself into before going to a "jam band" show, then I have a nice piece of real estate I'd like to show you under a large rock in The Middle Of Nowhere, USA. Overpriced tickets, glow sticks, pseudo-hippy dancing, and crappy opening bands are all pretty much par for the course at a show like this, but you won't find more a more loyal fan than a jam-band fan. Why is this? Is it the stellar musicianship? Not typically. Is it the radio play these bands are getting? Absolutely not. These are not just fans, but a community - nay, a family - of like-minded individuals who have all set out to do one thing: enjoy themselves. I'd argue that this genre of music, moreso than almost any other I can think of, thrives on the precept that the listener is responsible for his or her own good time. You can only get out what you put into it. If you want to see flawless musicians flaunting their pristine instrumentatal prowess, this probably isn't the show for you. If you want to stare at your shoes and feel sorry for yourself for a couple of hours, I know of several other shows around town that you can go see (I'll probably be at some of them). But going to a Galactic show and complaining about the psuedo-hippie kids is like vacationing in Dubai and complaining about all the "furinners".

My point is that I had a good time at the Galactic show. No, it wasn't the best show I've ever been to. It wasn't even the best Galactic show I've ever been to. But it was a good time nonetheless. I wasn't blown away (except by the drummer who was indeed fantastic) but I wasn't disappointed either.


Dmac, you ignorant slut. No seriously, there was nothing absolutely sucktastic about this show for you??


Okay, okay fine. The one hilarious nod to the awfulness Lamkini depicts that I'll offer is about the second opener, Papa Mali. By the time we got to the venue and paid for our overpriced White Russians (which I had promised Lamkini I'd splurge for if he came to the show), Mali was just finishing up one of the last songs of his solo set. We noticed he was using digital looping with effects pedals and had already built up his own virtual wall-of-sound against which he could just sit back and attempt to engage the crowd in a semi-intelligable dialogue, sort of like a poor man's Keller Williams. "Drink a little beer. Have a little wine. Smoke a little kind. Everybody keep happy," he repeated until he could elicit some sort of response from anybody in the crowd. After recieving some small level of participation, he continued, "Chicken fly high, chicken fly low, chicken fly high, chicken fly low...," and continued rambling in this fashion until the end of the song. I have no idea what this song was about, but Mali assured us afterwords in his thick New Orleans accent that "That was a true story."


So in the end, we all survived it, I with my snobby-bitch attitude and Dmac with his open-mindedness and glorious promises of White Russians. The End.


Blogger newwavegurly said...

1) Unless you're going to a bar to see a very small show, drinks are almost always overpriced.

2) I've been to a show at The Roxy, and I don't think it's too bad of a venue... I've definitely been to worse.

3) I'm not a fan of "jam bands" either. A song or two off an album where they actually recorded a couple of tunes I can handle. After a while, when they just keep playing and playing, it just gets to be like musical masturbation (much like the overdramatic guitar solos in rock music).

4) So Lamkini, who are you dragging dmac to go see in retribution?

10:24 AM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Lamkini said...

I really do need to make it a good one, don't I? I'd take him to see someone I hate just to torture him, but Yanni is currently not on tour. Actually, I'll let you in on a little secret: I don't think there's a band I know of that Dmac doesn't know about or probably seen already.

Honestly, because I'm a kickass friend and blog companion, I'll will probably flex my rockstar muscles enough to get us in free to see They Might Be Giants next month. How great am I?

12:35 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Sophie T. Mishap said...

Sounds like I would have gone just to see Papa Mali.

3:16 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Lamkini said...

Hey Sophie,

This is your best bet to catch Papa Mali soon. Also, I'm sure there'll be plenty of hippy goodness this festival to sustain you for the next...forever.


3:32 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger newwavegurly said...

No Yanni? How disappointing. What about John Tesch? Does he still tour? Or maybe you could drag him to Vegas and make him sit through a Celine Dion show?

TMBG... now that's going to be a fun show. Not torture in any way, just pure musical goodness.

8:50 AM, April 26, 2006  
Blogger d-mac said...

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

9:29 AM, April 26, 2006  

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