Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Galactic entertains beatniks, jocks at ‘dance party’

Funk ensemble Galactic
performed before a crowd of old beatniks, pretentious graduate students and
hip-hop aficionados at Madison’s Majestic Theatre Thursday night. Accompanied
by Jurassic 5 lyricist Chali 2na on this swing of their seemingly endless world
tour, Galactic brought the house down with a performance that effortlessly
transitioned from New Orleans-inspired jazz to hip-hop and back again.

It?s not hard to imagine
why Galactic has an easy time getting talented artists to co-star in their
albums and shows. Their fast-paced instrumental jams are seen as a welcome
departure from the monotony that often grips established rap stars. All it
takes is a cursory glance at the stage for crowds to discover this isn’t
exactly a rap show.

“No, I don’t think
so personally,” Galactic saxophone player Ben Ellman said, when asked by
The Badger Herald whether this was a hip-hop show. “I mean, maybe it has
elements of that, but I really see it as a Galactic show.”

That’s what a packed
house at the Majestic Theatre came to see ? older men lined up next to young
college students telling stories about seeing Galactic in New Orleans, back
when their world tour might extend as far as Georgia. College kids donning
backward baseball caps and Puma sneakers passed joints to former hippies with
unkempt moustaches, evading the watchful eyes of security. They exchanged a
careful glance, nodding to the beat of a winding jazz piece accented by the
skillful synthesizer riffs of Rich Vogel. Everyone danced, no matter how badly.

Ben Ellman opened the
show with an inspired harmonica interlude backed by the crescendo of a jazzy
anthem. As he switched from harmonica to saxophone to an even larger saxophone,
Ellman’s domination of the stage grew, with the crowd enamored by his
effortless precision. The feeling was later reinforced by a Stanton Moore drum
solo ? in which he pounded on anything he could find near his set ? that fell

Ellman held a saxophone
aloft, making dramatic use of the shadows that strategically cloak portions of
the stage. He became a silhouette against the illuminated Chali 2na, whose
methodical prose cut through layers of alternating instrumentation. Chali came
back to the stage three times ? punctuating the jazz tracks that dominated most
of Galactic’s performance. Each time he received an ovation from the crowd that
was just over-the-top enough to let the band know that the audience was drunk
and aching for a good party.


After Chali 2na and his
little brother ? who often joins him on the road pulling hype-man duty ? got
through soaking up an incredibly warm reception, Jeff Raines’ guitar accented the
lyricists’ rhyme schemes with seemingly free-form guitar runs scattered
deliberately within the bars of each verse. Rich Vogel?s keyboards offered the
strings melody rappers crave but don’t regularly receive from producer-made

The Herald last caught
up with Galactic in Rennes, France, before their performance at the Trans Music

“(In Europe)
audiences seem more attentive … and thinner,” Ellman joked in a pre-show
sit down interview. “In the States (our shows) become drunken dance

Maybe they didn’t have a
clear view of the massive crowds they drew in France, but that show was
certainly among the drunkest of all dance parties. Plus, when one of Galactic’s
older fans was asked why he came, the man professed his love for jam bands ? a
stigma Galactic has sought to avoid.

Further conversations
with the crowd revealed why a heavy tour schedule is so vital for successful
musicians. Galactic fans bragged of bringing “Galactic virgins” along
to the show, taking great pleasure in saying “I told you these guys are

The show concluded with
a rousing curtain call led by Chali 2na and opener Ohmega Watts. Chali 2na?s
little brother even got into the act, as Chali mouthed words to The Badger
Herald, ?He the man, that boy is hot!?

“We’re just trying
to make it better than the last one,” Ellman said, when asked about
Galactic?s goals when confronting a schedule packed with performances in
mid-sized cities like Madison. He later added that he feels the band is on a
bit of a hot streak ? and it shows.

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