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Jam Central Station: Galactic & Lettuce – 2/25/18 – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH

March 13, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

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Lettuce and Galactic are two of the most exciting and most dynamic modern funk bands making the rounds today. Both bands have a storied history dating back decades, and both have become icons in their respective scenes. Galactic are practically synonymous with New Orleans nowadays. Their version of the classic New Orleans funk and jazz sound has brought the band to unparalleled success. They’ve turned themselves into a part of the bedrock of modern New Orleans music. Lettuce, on the other hand, hails from Northeast, and their sound is a testament to the tremendous talent of each individual member. The band has been primarily known throughout the years for their hard-hitting Brooklyn funk, but they’ve mixed up their sound tremendously. Their most recent release, Witches Stew is a clear reference to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, and is a true modern jazz marvel. Getting these two bands together for a tour was a great idea, and both bands were motivated to bring out their best.

The two bands are in different spots at the moment on their touring cycle. Lettuce recently released Witches Stew, while Galactic is in the process of getting ready to record a new album after the success of 2015’s Into The Deep. Lettuce opened the night with a solid 80 minute set. The band didn’t do much in the overtly jazz style of their most recent release, but the fingerprints of the new album were all over the set. The band didn’t focus as much on pushing out a wall of sound towards the audience, instead emphasizing the interplay between the musicians. Each member weaved their jams in and around the work of the other players on stage. The interplay was tremendous, with everyone adding a little spice and flair. Particular standouts included Nigel Hall on the keyboard as well as vocals. Despite being in the corner of the stage behind his rig he was the ringleader and the member most responsible for engaging the crowd throughout the nights. The horns, not surprisingly, were the other standout. What really impressed me about the two horn players, other than their obvious talent, was their ability to add little things to the songs even when they weren’t the center of attention. They mixed their horns with percussion work to always add an extra flair to the tune.

The band did a great job mixing their mellow jams with some more fast-paced tunes. My favorite stuff from Lettuce is always their powerhouse songs, and I was glad that they played some jammed-out versions of “Madision Square” and “Phyllis.” They even threw in a nice 80’s cover with “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” which they kept very chill until the chorus. There weren’t too many jaw-dropping highlights from their set, but it was a solid start to the evening.

Galactic, on the other hand, always brings a dance party to the table, and this show was no different. The band moved back and forth between their classic New Orleans brass instrumentals and their newer, more vocal-focused songs. De facto member Erica Falls handled vocal duties exceptionally well (as she always does), which is all the more impressive given the wide array of vocalists the band has used on their albums. She’s able to belt out faster paced songs like “Higher and Higher” and move down into the soulful songs such as “Into The Deep” without missing a note. And, of course, Galactic is extremely tight, able to make extremely complex sections of music look effortless. Drumm Stanton Moore is of course a highlight, and I don’t think there’s a better, more complete drummer in the game right now.

While I absolutely enjoy their instrumental work (and they are one of the few bands that I’d enjoy with no vocals at all), I have to say I have a lot of fun dancing to their more recent tunes. “Dolla Diva” is an extremely fun jam, and “Right On” is a song that you can’t help but dance along with. There’s just no way this band can take the stage and not have fans moving. The absolute highlight of the entire night, however, came in the encore. Galactic brought out about half of the members of Lettuce, including Hall, Ryan Zoidis, Benny Bloom, and, of course, drummer Adam Deitch. The 10+ minute closing jam was amazing, particularly the interplay between Moore and Deitch. Moore’s drum setup included a regular kit and extra percussion pieces off to the side. Deitch started out on the percussion side with Moore in front of the main kit. Mid-jam, the two seamlessly switched positions without missing a single beat, including the kick drum. They went on to pull that switch off 3 more times, including in the middle of a full-on drum solo. These two are insanely talented, and seeing them work together so well was something to behold.

Overall, this was a great night and a fun show from both bands. I’m looking forward to checking each out again in the near future. Lettuce as they continue to explore some new areas and Galactic as they continue to be the representatives of New Orleans funk to much of the country. They’re both headlining bands in my opinion, and watching the two of them together in a packed House of Blues is about as good of a concert as I can imagine.

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Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!

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