The funk cannot be contained when Galactic and Butcher Brown come to town.
The best live music doesn’t recreate something captured in a studio. Excellent performances are more than perfected repetition of familiar notes and phrases. A truly captivating concert is a moment captured and squeezed for all that it is capable of being. You know you’re in such a moment when the musicians, the audience, and even the bartenders in the back are pulled from the woes of life and placed into another plane of existence, a happier one.
When Butcher Brown took the stage at The Intersection on Wednesday, February 21, it was not to significant acclaim or fanfare. They were the opening band in a two-band lineup that was walking out to a modest crowd spread thin by ample floor space and general early show awkwardness. Still, somehow, the band managed to create and envelope the room with an energy that no one could deny. The drummer kicked things off, though it didn’t seem intentional at first. He began tapping various pieces of his kit and very loosely started to build a base that the guitarist then, with similar looseness, added to in his way. The other members made their way onto the stage, each joining the jam already underway, and before long the full band was lost in the groove. The audience took a bit longer to fall in line, but by observing the audience from the side of the stage, you could see they were being won over one at a time on a person by person basis.
Then it happened. Two, maybe three minutes into the second song in their instrumental set Butcher Brown fell into something special. It wasn’t a particular sound or riff, but a sensation. The tempo slowly built until the band’s jazz aesthetic teetered on the edge of becoming full-blown rock and roll. The room was alive at that moment. Not in the ordinary sense, but in that way where you realize the reality of your shared experience with others on this planet. Call it atmosphere, or a vibe, or something else altogether, but from that point forward Butcher Brown became tour guides through a place better than the one beyond the venue walls.
To be gifted with such a sense of great escapism from for an opening band set the bar high for Galactic. The music veterans were more than up for the challenge, and with a literal wall of lights behind them, the band filled the space with production fit for a much higher capacity venue.
The crowd, already primed from the sizzling openers, greeted Galactic’s showcase of talent and lighting with their best dance moves. A couple of young kids on the rail began jumping up and down during the second solo of the second song, each one leveraging the height of the one beside them by pressing down on their shoulders to get just a bit more hype than their pals. A few older attendees nearby would point and stare, but rarely for long as they were moving and shaking to the rhythm the band was delivering.
Ten minutes passed before the first vocals entered the mix, and immediately the already engaged crowd was chanting along with every chance they got. The focus remained on the groove throughout, but with the one extra element added just right the show once again ascended to that special place reserved for concerts that provide that unique feeling nothing else on Earth can match. It’s something you feel in your bones and your soul, like that fire when you’ve locked eyes with the beautiful stranger across the room, and it engulfs every inch of your being. In that respect, the room was on fire that night, and not a soul was rushing to call for help.
The show did not stop until nearly midnight, though the crowd still roared with demands for more. As the doors opened and the bitter cold of another long Michigan winter rushed through the room, you could see those turning away from the stage wincing with sadness at the thought of returning to the world outside. For four all too short hours life had been something else, something more than what they knew on a day to day basis. They wanted to live in that moment, and no one – including the members of Galactic and Butcher Brown – could blame them. There may be another show tomorrow or next week or next month, but that show was over, and it would never happen again. The moment had passed.