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Intense bass warning.
Friday, June 4
If this was a scene from Treme, it’d play as farce: real New Orleans dudes playing real New Orleans music… in a snazzy, opulent, achingly hip Brooklyn bowling alley. We’d be mocked as clueless, unappreciative cultural tourists who wouldn’t know The Real Thing if it bit us in the ass. Except everyone here, offstage and off, “authentic” or no, seems tremendously jovial and lubricated, thrilling to every three-man (at least — two hours in the set climaxed, with, like, nine) horn blast and meandering funk jam, and when our attention does wander a bit, we are rescued by honorary New Orleanian Doug E. Fresh.
Galactic are, very very very generally speaking, the Phish fan’s New Orleans funk band. Jams, man. Lotsa jams. Around since the early ’90s, and lately cutting special-guest-besotted records for the otherwise not particularly N.O.-funk-oriented ANTI- label (Ya-Ka-May, out in February, packs in Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, John Boutte, the Rebirth Brass Band, and so forth), they favor long, languid, vicious-bassline workouts — even the drummer gets a solo or three. (Alas.) A palpable wave of weed smoke rises up about an hour in: a second wind we definitely needed.
Thankfully, we get a few non-chemical jolts, too. Tonight, the sold-out middle show of a three-night run here (?uestlove and Living Colour’s Corey Glover showed up the night before), the special-guest theatrics are at first limited to a couple guest horn players (Rebirth’s Corey Henry on trombone, Sex Mob’s Steven Bernstein on trumpet) and bombastic singer Cyril Neville, who’s somewhat underused — he only gets a few songs, but makes the most of them with a sharp, scrappy bark that turns “You Don’t Know” into a friendly warning for would-be cultural tourists: “You don’t know what I know/You ain’t been where I’m going.” Got it.
And just when it all starts to melt together, here comes Doug E. Fresh to serve as much-needed ringmaster and focal point, dutifully bounding through “La Di Da Di” and beatboxing his way through a triumphant duel with the drummer. “I love New York City, but I looooooove New Orleans,” he crows, and we miss him when he’s gone. But soon all the horn players from openers the High and Mighty Brass Band (emphasis on the “high”) jump back onstage for a colossal “Blackbird Special” — the infectious jam you might’ve heard Galactic themselves serve up on, naturally, Treme. The crash of bowling pins is rendered mercifully inaudible.