Galactic unveil a new bag of tricks at El Rey

Galactic_postBy Josh Herwitt //

Galactic with Brushy One String //
El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles
March 20th, 2014 //

One of New Orleans’ very best returned to Los Angeles last week, as Galactic paid its annual visit to the El Rey Theatre on Thursday night.

Over the last few years, the band has made a habit of playing the historic art deco venue whenever it comes to LA, but that doesn’t mean Galactic’s recent gigs have lacked energy or enthusiasm.

In fact, this year’s performance had just as much as last year’s — if not more. The only difference was, this time there was no Corey Glover.

The Living Colour frontman started touring with Galactic back in 2010, and it appeared that the quintet may have finally found the perfect replacement for Theryl “House Man” DeClouet, who was forced to leave the band in 2004 due to health concerns.

But with other projects currently on Glover’s plate, Galactic has had to go back to the drawing board in its search for a singer — something it’s become quite accustomed to after spending the past decade touring with numerous guest vocalists, including former Meters member Cyril Neville and Rebirth Brass Band trombonist Corey Henry. Through it all though, Galactic has failed to skip a beat.

At the El Rey, the five-piece — guitarist Jeff Raines, bassist Robert Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, saxophonist/harmonica player Ben Ellman and organist Richard Vogel — sounded just as tight as they ever have before. They took the stage and opened their two-hour set with a couple of instrumental tunes right off the bat, proving that with or without a vocalist, their sound still holds up after roughly 20 years. And when it came time to honor the opening act — in this case, Jamaica’s Brushy One String — with a guest vocal spot midway through the show, Galactic served as more than just a backing band for the YouTube sensation whose song “Chicken in the Corn” has amassed over four million views by now, believe it or not.


Yet, what proved to be the real eye-opener on this night was the addition of New Orleans-based singer Maggie Koerner, who joined Galactic for its 28-date, bicoastal tour after recently contributing vocals on the band’s single “Dolla Diva” two months ago. While it was no surprise to hear the song amid a setlist that featured other gems like “Shibuya” and “From the Corner to the Block”, it didn’t stand a chance in topping the band’s cover of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” — thanks largely to Koerner’s unlimited range. At the ripe age of 25, the Louisiana native’s career is only just beginning. Sure, she may not have DeClouet’s on-stage charisma or Glover’s star power yet, but with the way she can hit those high notes, Galactic may have found its next piece to the puzzle.

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