On a warm Saturday night, the second official Saturday of the summer, New Orleans-based funk royalty Galactic landed in Santa Cruz, CA’s The Catalyst for the first night of their summer California run. The band is currently touring with vocalist Erica Falls on the heels of the band’s 10th studio effort in their 25-year span, Already Ready Already.
Although the first night of the summer 2019 tour did not see The Catalyst selling out, the bands and crews were clearly firing on all cylinders. Opening the evening was a local Santa Cruz funk-party called Space Heater.
Space Heater rocked the main room of The Catalyst. As soon as patrons reached the ticket check, visible toe-tapping and bouncy steps carried them inside. The band totals seven members that sprawl across the stage. Mason Hicks and Ron Work share duties on guitars and vocals, Mike Spooner and Foxxy share roles on percussion and vocals as well. Bassist Steve Rogers, drummer Joaquin Spengemann and keyboardist Justin Fagnani round out the funky group’s lineup.
Space Heater has one foot firmly rooted in the foundations of all things traditionally funky while the other foot flails about wildly in outer space, kicking off into uncharted territory. Fans of the Brooklyn-based band Turkuaz will find a lot to love.
Space Heater – “I Like To Party” – 6/29/2019
[Video: Must Have Media]
Not even 30 minutes after the local funk band finished, the lights went low. Galactic’s drummer Stanton Moore popped out from behind the curtain, launching into “Already Ready” from the latest album of nearly the same name as Jeff Raines, Robert Mercurio, Ben Ellman, and Richard Vogel joined him onstage.
It wasn’t long before the band welcomed Erica Falls to the stage. Falls would stay on stage and sing a handful of songs before taking a break. To begin the show, she sang “Higher and Higher” from the 2015 release Into The Deep and the fan favorite “Heart of Steel” from 2010’s Ya-Ka-May. Falls’ first round of songs wrapped with “Clap Your Hands” from the new 2019 album.
A new instrumental titled “Fabuloso” let the band members stretch and settle. Moore, along with bassist Mercurio, lay an incredibly vibrant foundation for the band to play over. Saxophonist and harmonica player Ellman, who co-produced the album with Mercurio, challenged and took flight over trumpeter and Stooges Brass Band member, Eric Gordon.
Falls returned to the stage for another track on the new album, “Going Straight Crazy”, and the 2012 favorite “Hey Na Na” from Carnivale Electricos. The battle of the horns continued and resulted in an epic three-minute back and forth intro duet ahead of the “You Don’t Know”, the second and final track from Ya-Ka-May.
Galactic welcomed Leroy “Ghost” Palmer, a local Santa Cruz legend of funk, to the stage. Palmer took lead vocals on “Funky Broadway”, a classic soul track by Wilson Pickett in 1967. The energy of the music was clearly flowing through Palmer as he made his way back and forth across the stage, interacting with the band and hyping up the crowd the whole time. Upon his exit, the band stretched out the instrumental “Balkan Wedding”.
Erica Falls came out to perform the song “Touch Get Cut” from the new record. She also performs on the studio version of the track, which was released as the third single in January 2019 ahead of the album.
A wild medley of tracks from Galactic’s 1996 debut album was a major treat for old school fans. Following the medley, the band performed two tracks from 2015’s Into The Deep including, “Right On” and “Does It Really Make A Difference” with Erica Falls singing on both cuts. The set ended with a new track, “Big Whishers”, and “Never Called You Crazy”, a cut from 2003’s Ruckus. For the two song encore, Galactic started out with “Bakers Dozen” off 2000’s Late For The Future and ended the show with Erica Falls on “Dolla Diva”.
Galactic – Full Show Preview – 6/29/2019
[Video: Must Have Media]
Galactic plays a free concert at San Francisco’s Stern Grove Music Festival tonight, so good luck navigating the San Francisco Pride Week foot and motor traffic. They head South for a sold-out performance at Hermosa Beach, CA’s Saint Rocke on July 2nd and in Ventura, CA on July 3rd before returning North for High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, CA on July 4th-7th. For a full list of Galactic’s tour dates, head here.
You can check out a full photo gallery of last night’s show courtesy of Joshua Huver of Must Have Media below.
Setlist | Galactic | The Catalyst | Santa Cruz, CA | 06/29/2019
Set One: Ready Already, Higher and Higher*, Heart of Steel*, Clap Your Hands*, Fabuloso, Going Straight Crazy*, Hey Na Na*, You Don’t Know*, Funky Broadway^, Balkan Wedding, Touch Get Cut*, Coolin Off Medley, Right On*, Does It Really Make A Difference*, Big Whiskers, Never Called You Crazy*
Encore: Bakers Dozen, Dolla Diva*
*- featuring Erica Falls on vocals
^- featuring Leroy “Ghost” Palmer on vocals