Galactic to play Super Bowl Sunday at Belly Up Aspen
If You Go …
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Feb. 5, 9 p.m.
How much: $38-$65
It’s become something of an annual tradition for Galactic to make a Carnival season stop here in the Rockies.
As the New Orleans funk stalwarts prepare for their annual Mardi Gras shows at Tipitina’s, playing through the night until sunrise on Fat Tuesday morning, they do a warm up here at Belly Up Aspen.
This winter’s Belly Up show comes on Supe Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5.
During last year’s swing through Aspen, Galactic bassist Rob Mercurio said the all-night Mardi Gras show in New Orleans “has become something of legend.”
“People are like, ‘Oh, you guys played until 9 in the morning.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t think it was quite 9.’ But let the legend proceed.”
The Galactic live shows in Aspen have earned a reputation of their own. Its members never seem to repeat themselves, as from album to album and tour to tour they explore fresh, creative veins in funk, rock and hip-hop and play live shows filled with free funk jams and dance-friendly songs out of the brass-band tradition.
The band’s most recent record is 2016’s “Into the Deep,” featuring the high caliber of guest talent that fans have come to expect from Galactic discs. In this case, guests include vocalists Macy Gray, who leads on vocals on the title single, J.J. Grey and Mavis Staples.
Galactic, Mercurio said, tends to write a song together and then brainstorm about what singer might best fit the sound. For vocals, they might call on an old friend such as Grey or newer friends they meet on the road or around New Orleans. Staples, who sings on “Does It Really Make a Difference,” performed with the band at New York concerts years ago.
“Since then, every time we see her at a festival or in an airport, we say, ‘Hey,’ and that was a song that we had written with someone like her in mind,” Mercurio said. “We wanted an iconic soul singer to sing that.”
The band met Gray backstage at one of her shows in New Orleans in 2014, hit it off and ended up performing together on a festival tour last year. Naturally, she joined the band in the studio on “Into the Deep.”
And some of the time, like on the throwback funk number “Long Live the Borgne,” which has been a high point of recent live shows, the band sticks to instrumentals.
The open-minded, open-eared members of Galactic have consistently expanded the band’s musical boundaries over the past two decades — from the techno-influenced, loop-heavy sound of 2003’s “Ruckus” to the hip-hop of 2007’s “From the Corner to the Block” to the 2012 Mardi Gras concept album “Carnivale Electricos.” On “Into the Deep,” the band offers tight dance rock, soul and funk in songs that no doubt will expand and mutate on the road, along with insta-classic Galactic jazz-funk instrumental tracks.
The band also charted some new territory with its own music festival over the last two years. Dubbed The Landing, and staged in September on the shores of Lake Ponchartrain, it’s featured acts like Grace Potter, Dr. Dog, Cake and Trampled by Turtles alongside Galactic.
“We’ve been doing festivals forever as a band and just kind of thought that we could add something to the festival circuit,” Mercurio said. “It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a while, and we found the perfect spot for it in New Orleans on the Lakefront. So it all just fell into place at the right time.”