Tonight's dose of the Big Easy comes in hot and cold. Galactic is the epitome of cool; the group's jazzy, low-riding funk shimmies with the sexy, careless sway of a chest-painted hippie tripping topless. But unlike many of Galactic's groove-obsessed peers, they deal in melody and not just endless noodling. Unfortunately, their albums fail to adequately capture the lush sonic tapestries that the band produces live (not to mention the drug-addled sense of community).
Compared to Galactic's loose, spacey vibe, opener Papa Mali is a raging volcano. An amazing slide guitarist and demonstrative singer, the dreadlocked Malcom "Papa Mali" Welbourne cooks a gumbo boiling with greasy funk, slow blues, and swamp-rock boogie. Welbourne's energy is abundant, and his music involves a goosy, ramshackle spirit that's always ready to pitch in for another keg.
Mali's blend of roots and soul displays an appeal far beyond that of your standard jam band, while its explosive performances are like Flogging Molly -- if Molly had been born on the bayou.