With a so-called "supermoon" rising over the mountains and perfect weather greeting the crowd, Red Butte Garden got a serious taste of New Orleans Sunday night, courtesy of Galactic and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.
The co-headliners both bring different flavors of the Big Easy in their shows and respective sounds. Galactic delivers a funk-infused bit of jam-band dance music that these days leans toward blues-rock thanks to the presence of vocalist Maggie Koerner. And Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue rely on a stellar horn-section led by the versatile leader who bounced between singing and playing along with a variety of instruments--he's no one-trombone trick pony.
Galactic started the proceedings with a set alternating between instrumental jams and songs featuring Koerner--a formula later copied by Trombone Shorty. Koerner first made her considerable presence felt on "Higher and Higher" early on, as well as "Dolla Diva." And while her flowing purple dress and powerful pipes made her a constant focal point when Koerner was on stage, the musicians in Galactic are too strong to stay on the sidelines. Trombone player Corey Henry and drummer Stanton Moore consistently took command of the proceedings when the mood struck them--Henry with his boisterous playing and crowd interaction, and Moore though his propulsive percussion.
Among the other highlights of Galactic's set were "Doesn't Make a Difference at All," "Should've Known Better" and a scorching closing cover of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter."
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue took the stage to a surprisingly heavy rock instrumental before the horns took over and a more traditional New Orleans vibe came in. Trombone Shorty (real name: Troy Andrews) is an engaging frontman, chatting up the crowd between taking turns on vocals, trombone, trumpet and tambourine. On Sunday, his repeated exhortations to the crowd that it was time to party were both endearing and completely unnecessary given how Galactic started the show.
The instrumental workouts from Andrews and Co. were my favorite moments of the Trombone Shorty set, but he's no slouch on vocals, either. Songs like "Craziest Things," "You Are My Everything" and "Fire and Brimstone" all kept the crowd on its feet and dancing as well as the energetic instrumentals.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue have become regular visitors to Red Butte Garden the past few years, and nothing they did Sunday should keep their Utah audience from growing even more. Here's hoping they and Galactic forge a long-term summer-tour partnership, because that's a dance-party double-bill that's hard to beat.