Friday evening at Emo’s was billed a headliner show for New Orleans-based Galactic but ended up a fantastic double-bill with H-town buzz-act The Suffers opening the show. A large portion of the audience came for Galactic but those in know arrived early to catch the soulful Kam Franklin and the nine piece, self-styled Gulf Coast soul players lay a heavy dose of emotion on fans. The soul didn’t stop with The Suffers as Galactic guest vocalist Erica Falls belted out lyrics with ferocity. The feel-good vibes were flowing.
Beyond being New Orleans’ best known jam band, Galactic features world-famous drummer Stanton Moore along with founding members Jeff Raines (guitar) and Robert Mercurio (bass). Add Richard Vogel (organ) and Ben Ellman (sax) and you essentially have an all-star lineup. The show was incredibly tight as one would expect an group known for their explosive live performances.
We last covered Galactic at Jazz Fest where the guest singer was Maggie Koerner (New Orleans). She was fantastic but Galactic appeared to have stepped up their vocal game with the silky smooth Falls who managed to insert raw emotion into her singing. It turns out Falls was performing on two different stages the same week Galactic and Koerner were there. She’s a longtime backup singer and soloist who has worked with John Fogerty and Sting among others.
Galactic’s best known vocalist is Corey Glover (Living Color) but the Erica Falls version of this incredible NOLA funk act may be our favorite. Falls lent welcome energy to staple Hey Na Na encouraging the crowd to sing along. The audience responded enthusiastically, dancing and singing with her. She is plainly talented and having a tour-wise, veteran outfit behind her served to elevate her already lofty talent.
In a nod to our nerdiness, the highlight of the performance was Moore’s otherworldly drum solo. All the players in Galactic are exceptional but hearing Moore echo influences ranging from The Meters and Dirty Dozen Brass Band to progressive drummers like Bill Buford or even Ginger Baker was astounding. The man has a singular talent and he is rightfully sharing it with music fans over 200 days a year.
Openers, The Suffers were no less spectacular. Franklin’s big voice boomed out over the Emo’s crowd sending chills down spines and raising hair on the backs of necks. Watching Franklin work prompted visions of another visceral performer on a meteoric rise, Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes). Besides appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Fest) and Voodoo Fest, The Suffers have been named one of the 40 bands to see at South by Southwest (SXSW) by Esquire and appeared with Los Lobos at the Americana Music Fest in Nashville in 2015.
The band’s success has come after evolving from a reggae jam act into their current soul-fusion sound influenced by music from the Gulf Coast region where they live; blues, country, cajun, hip hop and even island-styles.
The group is anchored by founders Adam Castaneda (bass) and Patrick Kelly (keys, vocals). Afrobeat-inspired single Gwan may be The Suffers’ most popular single but watching Franklin belt out ballad, Giver got us (and a more than a few others) choked up.
The Suffers’ debut full-length album is due out in February and can be preordered directly from iTunes. We are chomping at the bit for a vinyl issue of the self-titled record.
The Suffers play New Year’s Eve in Houston and will return to Central Texas in April for Old Settler’s Music Festival. See a list of’ 2016 dates supporting Lake Street Drive below:
2/22 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
2/23 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theater
2/24 – San Diego, CA – Observatory North Park
2/26 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
2/27 – San Francisco, CA – The Masonic
2/28 – Reno, NV – Cargo Concert Hall
3/1 – Vancouver, BC – Imperial
3/2 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
3/3 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theater
3/10 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
3/11 – Chicago, IL – The Vic Theatre
3/14 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
3/15 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
3/16 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Theatre
3/18 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
3/19 – Richmond, VA – The National
3/21 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
3/23 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
3/25 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
3/26 – Portland, ME – The State Theatre