Peabody's DownUnder

Galactic 

Peabody's DownUnder

Galactic
with Drums and Tuba
Peabody's DownUnder
February 5

If it were possible to measure the buzz on the street regarding the funk/jam band Galactic, the meter was definitely pegged Saturday night at Peabody's DownUnder. An unusually long line stretched in front of the club prior to the start of Galactic's set. Packed to the rafters with carefree Deadheads (complete with bootlegging tape recorder/DAT machine microphones towering over the crowd) and the West Sixth crowd slumming for the night, this New Orleans band's show was the one to see -- and the long line and crowded confines of the club even drove some patrons away.

Galactic's appeal stems from its heavy funk and acid jazz -- searing sax notes connected with the dancing-in-place audience -- and just as with a Dead show, those with rhythm need not apply. Equal parts Traffic, Grateful Dead, and your flavor-of-the-month granola band, Galactic was all about exploring the moment through drum solos, bluesy guitar tones, funked-up grooves, thick organ sounds, and jazzy sax textures. From the opening number, Galactic had the crowd on cruise control, riding its instrumental, improvisational waves, and proved, for the moment, that vocals were unnecessary to get a full groove on. That changed with the introduction of singer Theryl "Houseman" de Clouet, who provided the Motown soul (raspy, emotional vocals) as the tight-knit backing band toned down its delivery and instead played a steady mix of wah-wah guitars, vibrant saxophone, and precise bass. The band tapered its jams to give de Clouet time in the spotlight (although it actually took the person running the lights a few songs to provide him with the literal spotlight). And yet, the vocals weren't really necessary -- the audience was already primed and enjoying the jams; de Clouet's appearance and lyrics (elementary at times) neither added to nor subtracted from the overall feel of the show. Maybe establishing his presence earlier would have dispelled the awkwardness. More important, it was good to see Clevelanders turn out to support a band that's not classic rock. Look for Galactic's next Northeast Ohio show to be at a larger venue.

Openers Drums and Tuba (when's the last time a tuba was played in Peabody's?) created amazing ambiance with their unique, technologically advanced, trance-like set that was heavy on effects (guitar and brass), sampling, and ambiguous sounds. Interestingly, it appeared as if certain horn and guitar riffs were sampled live onstage. However absorbing, the set became repetitive, but the band still gets an A for effort and ingenuity. -- John Benson

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