Two excellent funk bands, at very different points in their career, played First Avenue on Saturday night. Though veterans Galactic and upstarts Star Kitchen played distinct styles, they were unified by a love for the groove, and a reverence for the genres within which they were working. The result was a fantastic show that pushed boundaries while satisfying the audience throughout.
Star Kitchen is a relatively new band, having played its first show about a year ago. That is not to say they’re young. Rather, they’re composed entirely of industry veterans. This leads to the simple, yet important, question: “Would they have chemistry?” In any improv-heavy context, being able to play well together in musical conversation is an essential component. This is especially true for newer bands. It’s not easy, and even skilled veteran acts occasionally struggle with this.
To Star Kitchen’s credit, they answered this question with an emphatic “yes,” navigating their jams with flexibility and efficiency. Particularly impressive was the rhythm section of Marlon Lewis and Marc Brownstein, who provided a solid foundation throughout.
Though their set focused, for the most part, on a sort of mellow psychedelic funk, they added subtle elements of hip hop and dub that kept things interesting. The set wasn’t particularly high intensity, but the grooves were easy to get immersed in. Especially groovy was a cover of the Stylistics’ “People Make the World Go Round,” which showcased their technical proficiency and smooth sensibility. It was the finest moment from the band, who showed significant potential over the course of their hour-long set.
Galactic brought a similar spirt but a different sound. Clearly rooted in their hometown of New Orleans, Galactic’s brassier, funkier, and up-tempo approach made for an exciting headlining set. For longtime fans, this was no surprise: they’re as consistent as they come. Even by their high standards, Saturday’s set was strong.
One reason for this was the balance they achieved between vocally driven songs and instrumentals. While they’re primarily a funk band with rock and jam leanings, Galactic’s catalog is full of strong vocal performances. On this night, vocals would be handled by Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph. Her performance was as strong as any by a Galactic singer that I’ve seen. She handled the soul and R&B flavored songs (“Does it Really Make a Difference”) as well as the punchier funk-rock numbers (“Hey Na Na,” “Higher and Higher”).
The players were also stellar. Stanton Moore lived up to his reputation as one of modern funk’s premier drummers. Guitarist Jeff Raines offered up tasteful yet fiery licks with an awesome tone. The horn section was as solid as they always are, with each member ripping the occasional wild solo. Each player and unit pulled their weight, giving their attack a balance that thrilled the crowd. It was all a fun-loving crowd could ask for — a solid gig front to back.
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If you haven't seen it yet, go check out a live video of @galacticfunknola playing "Heart of Steel” featuring Anjelika “Jelly" Joseph that I posted to Youtube last week. This is from @tipitinasuptown Back to School night back on September 7. This was our first gig in New Orleans at Tipitina's with Jelly. Link to the Video is in my bio. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell to be notified of future content I’ll be posting. ——————————————— #AcademyLessons #OnlineLessons #GretschDrums #CrescentCymbals #ThatGreatGretschSound #BrooklynSeries #NewDrums #drumlife #tourlife #funk #drums #drumporn #gearporn #drummersofinstagram #Tipitinas @gretschdrums @sabiancymbals_official @crescent_cymbals @dwdrums @vicfirth @remopercussion @lppercussion @gatorcases @audixmics #Galactic