Photos by Jim Mimna
The Scene: Looking down from the very front balcony, stage left, at The Ogden, I saw everything laid out in front of me. I guess you could say I had a moment of clarity. Listen Up Denver! started small two years ago this month, and watching a sea of Denverites getting down made me realize how lucky I am to be part of this amazing music scene. It was beautiful. If I have never said it before, thanks. Thanks for dancing. Thanks for smiling. Thanks for celebrating the power of music with me. Most of all, thanks for supporting Listen Up Denver!
Galactic was the main attraction on Saturday, but opener Monophonics drew a hell of crowd. For those who arrived two or three songs into the set, it must have felt like jumping onto a moving treadmill, because the night was already raging. Jackets came off in mid-stride as people stripped their cares away and glided towards the sound. Once feet started moving they didn’t stop as Monophonics and Galactic hit us with a one-two punch that made our legs quiver, and our ears ring. We were floored by the Funk, swept away by the Soul, and ravaged by the Rock…but we stood firm as the full force gale stormed from the stage.
The Opener: Monophonics. Monophonics hails from the Bay Area, and their sound harkens back to a past era and old Soul. San Francisco fostered a genre dubbed “black rock” in the 60s and 70s, and Monophonics resurrects that funky psychedelic Soul, breathing new life into it. I got turned on to Monophonics via their label mates Orgone, and my introduction to both these bands made me delve deeper into the world of Funk and Soul music. I am now entrenched in the genre, digging deeper, finding treasures from the past as I explore.
Monophonics energetically opened the set with “Can’t Leave it Alone,” playing like a band that just won’t quit. Aggressively approaching the material, they tore through their set, making us all think that this shit “Sure is Funky.” The room had really filled in by the time Monophonics went into “High off Your Love,” and the ceiling was already dripping with Soul. The crowd showed a lot of love for this San Francisco psychedelic Soul syndicate after they finished things off with with “Baby I Love You,” then headed to the bar to find something to help them swallow the first dose of Funk.
Galactic: Hitting the stage like a hurricane, New Orleans based Galactic kicked down the doors with “Karate.” Galactic is one of the most well known New Orleans based bands to regularly visit Colorado, and they sure came in hot when they rolled into town this time around. Adding fuel to the fire was guest vocalist Corey Glover, best known for his work with Funk-Metal band Living Color. Glover’s vocal intensity, range and styling took the already explosive Galactic sound straight into outer space. Glover joined in on a couple Galactic originals like “Out In The Street” and “Hey-Na-Na,” but it was the first cover of the night that really blew my mind…The Beatles “I Am the Walrus.” The crowd absolutely went bonkers as the light show pulsed along with the fervor of the song. Leaning on the rail looking down on the stage, I must have looked like a deer in headlights as I stared wide eyed, astounded by the sheer force of the performance. I don’t think I ever regained my composure after that song, and the respite found in the end of the end of the 1st set was “Bittersweet.”
Three deep at the bar we sought refreshment, then sucked it down with the anticipation for the second set. Galactic is a soulful Funk band that rocks with a New Orleans swing, and “From The Corner To The Block” kicked off the second set with their foray into Hip-Hop. Glover was on fire, and he jumped down off the stage to slam the crowd with the Living Color classic, “Cult Of Personality.” Oh boy…it was on now. The crowd threw their hands in the air as Glover erupted with lyrical lava, scorching the audience with the words as they rained down. Bay Area hip-hop artist Lyrics Born came on stage like a “Crazy Mongoose,” spewing his ultra fast flow with a fury.
Galactic as whole is a musical machine, and each individual piece of the band is of the highest quality…as proved by the surreal solos that each member performed. When bassist Robert Mercurio stepped to the front of the stage to strut his stuff, he played so hard and so long I expected blood to start coating the strings. When he finally finished it was like a man waking from a dream as he glanced at the audience, took a couple steps back, and laughed to himself. He knew he had just channeled something powerful judging from the stunned look on our faces before we exploded into cheers. Stanton Moore’s drum solo, complete with water flying off the skins, yielded the same reaction, as did Richard Vogel’s exploration of the keys.
The second set ended with Allen Toussaint’s “What is Success,” and the band briefly left the stage before returning for a two song encore that tore the house down. “Does It Make A Difference At All” was followed by The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Now I thought “I am the Walrus” got the room going, but the crowd got whipped into a proper frenzy for the last song of the night! After the house lights went up and we all got our bearings straight, we stumbled out onto Colfax, amazed by what we had witnessed.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: A-