16 January 2008

Nedstalgia: 10 Years Ago

[Previously in Nedstalgia: Phish shows 1 & 2, #3 #5 ,#6-9, #10, #77 & 78, #79, #80&81, #82-84); Mule; Widespread Panic #1 (& 'ween 97); The Duo; Robert Randolph HORDE 92 (i.e. Phish #4, WSP #1), Freaks Ball III]

Download Galactic's show from 10 years ago today:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Hopefully I'll be able to open up the Nedstalgia a little bit more beyond the Panic/Phish stranglehold (although there will still be plenty of that, never you fret). This week I look back 10 years to my first or one of my first trips to a room I've had a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with: The Knitting Factory.

The occasion was Galactic's trip to New York City in the winter of 1998. At that point in time, I was still working on my sea legs in the oceanic NYC music scene. I was 10 years younger at the time, but I was living significantly further out on Long Island and was supposed to be a graduate student, so I was still working on the logistics of seeing lots of live music. I was also just getting used to navigating the who's-playing-when-and-where conundrum (a problem that would eventually come to a head with the brute force methodology of the Shows of the Week enterprise). But after seeing Galactic open up for Panic the Halloween previous, I knew I'd be making a Saturday night trip on the LIRR to see them play at the Knit no matter what the consequences. Brother Liffy was in town visiting and the Big Squeeze and I took 'em to town so to speak. Of course, we were naive little groove muffins back then and showed up at the venue plenty early. Early enough that the place was empty for the opening act... I'm not even sure it was an opening act as much as it was a separate bill -- an early show if you will. My bro informed me later on that he thinks that this was a John Zorn solo show, which wouldn't surprise me. I do recall that the mouthpiece to a saxophone was a prominently featured instrument which would limit the choices. So, that would make it my first Zorn experience.

Eventually, the place filled up and up and up. I was a bit surprised -- there were probably more people there to see the show than in the entire Lakefront Arena to see their opening set. New Orleans music might be a bigger draw in New York than it is in New Orleans itself... or at least it feels like that sometimes. My first Knit experience was a strange one, because we ended up grabbing a spot in the balcony and enjoying the show from a vantage point I'm not sure I've enjoyed again in all my return trips there.

After what seemed like ages, the band finally took the stage with an "are you ready New York?" attitude that set the stage for an amazing night of music. They immediately launched into "Let the Music Take Your Mind" which a lot of people have covered over the ages. To this day, when I hear that song, I think of Galactic and that initial blast of intense grooving. Somehow I still envision them as a groovy Grant Green/Meters hybrid and it all hearkens back to that initial offering at the Knit. The show that unfolded was a glorious mix of bopping originals and funky covers that all added up to a perfect p-a-r-t-y party.

Listening back to the show now 10 years later, it's amazing how much extracurricular space the band was exploring -- long jams, twisting segues, fearless excursions. Somehow they were masters of the 2-minute groove and the 12 minute improv. The other thing that sticks out is how much Stanton Moore & Rich Vogel were driving the band at that point. There are multiple sections where the organ or keyboards just float into their own universe, creating a dreamy hypnotic spell over the drunken room. I feel like Galactic has gone through a lot of different morphological versions of itself with different themes and styles evolving within the general structure and here Vogel and Moore combine to create a Meters-on-acid kind of texture that's fun to revisit.

Of course, this show represented a Mardi Gras-in-January for the band and they ended up pulling out all the stops. Members of the Wild Magnolias showed up and brought things to that next level. The result was a perfect clusterfuck of musicians on stage for more long, spiraling jamming and settling into a on-point New Orleans medley led by Houseman and the Indians, extra horn players and June Yamagishi that eventually lead to a bunch of nutty percussion and a Hey Pocky Way sing-along with the crowd.

All that and it was only the first set. I was contending with the same ridiculous what-train-will-I-make dealings back then as I deal with now, so we had to weigh our options at set break which was definitely in the past-midnight range. But how could we leave? The show was smoking hot. We stayed. Second set was more of the same, but a deeper, hazier, more drunken atmosphere took root of the Knit, as those wee hour of the morning set breaks are wont to do. Eventually, though, we knew we had to git which was unfortunately, because Warren Haynes had just poked his head out and joined the mess. Yes, even back then Warren was a jam slut of the 1st degree. I don't recall how much of that sit-in we caught, but my memory is that it wasn't enough... listen to that shit, it goes on for a bit.

Still, a great night in the city. Maybe one of the better shows I've seen in the main room of the Knitting Factory to this day. Take it for a spin.

The setlist:
Set I
Let The Music Take Your Mind, Go-Go, Get A Head On, Crazyhorse Mongoose, Just Kissed My Baby, Love On The Run, I'm A Ram, Doo Rag, Backpack, Peepin', Two Clowns*> Mardi Gras Medley* > Hey Pockey Way*
Set II
Hamp's Hump, Spicolli's Toe, Funky Miracle, Root Down > Quiet Please, Mind is Hazy, Something's Wrong, Get Out of My Life, Church, Black Eyed Pea **

* w/ Wild Magnolias
** w/
Warren Haynes - guitar


Liffy said...

I'm pretty sure this is the band we saw with Zorn http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:acfqxqrjldhe~T0
Also, I seem to remember it being a separate show and we may have even had to leave to the tap room and come back in for the Galactic show. The other things I remember are eavesdropping on someone trying to sell their friend on Tenacious D and then joining in on the conversation, and not realizing immediately that it was Warren Haynes because I didn't think he was so fat!

WeightStaff said...

Hi Neddy,

Great review and I'm all about the nostalgia of getting to shows at all costs (and challenging transportation options). Also, I love the line about "New Orleans music might be a bigger draw in New York than it is in New Orleans itself... or at least it feels like that sometimes." I completely agree. Keep up the good work.


neddy said...

Thanks for the kind note, Ryan... and thanks for weighing in w/ some Liffstalgia, Liffy.