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  • Writer's pictureChristine

Galactic, Rubblebucket, and Butcher Brown – A Jazz Funk Trifecta!

Looking for some amazing jazz funk music?  Look no further than Galactic!

Galactic on stage with their horn section in the forefront of the picture.

Galactic brought their version of New Orleans’ jazz funk to The Fillmore on Friday night!

We are big fans of the opener – Rubblebucket – so we went to this show mainly to see them.  Not only did we get a chance to see another great set from Rubblebucket, we had the added bonus of seeing Butcher Brown and Galactic.  With a great view right on the rail, we had an amazing night full of amazing music.  Keep reading to find out more!

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The Fillmore is one of my favorite music venues in Philadelphia.  The size of the room is perfect.  Even if you stand all the way in the back, you are sill close enough to have a great view.  The acoustics in the room are fantastic.  The bathrooms are spacious and clean (always a plus!).  Parking near the venue is easy and inexpensive.  Plus, the venue is located in the Fishtown neighborhood, which has lots of restaurant and bars to choose from for your pre-show or post-show food and drinks.

The outside of The Fillmore with the lighted sign on the front of the building.

The Fillmore is one of my favorite live music venues in Philadelphia. Located in the Fishtown neighborhood, it’s part of an up and coming entertainment complex.

The “original” Fillmore opened in San Francisco in 1965. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, that version of the Fillmore was the focal point of the psychedelic music scene. It helped launch the careers of bands like The Grateful Dead, Santana, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors.

The Philadelphia version of The Fillmore opened in the fall of 2015 in a 125-year-old metal building. The AJAX building was converted into a 25,000-square foot facility, that is really three venues in one. The main room holds 2,500 people. It has a large main stage, along with a large bar on each side of the room, a large bar in the back, and a balcony area. The Foundry is located on the second floor of the facility, and holds 450 people. It has a small stage, a large bar, and several comfortable seating areas around the perimeter. Finally, as you enter the facility you will be in what is called Ajax Hall. This is a lounge area where you can get food and drinks before the show. There is usually a DJ playing music before and after shows as well.

A DJ playing music in the lobby area of The Fillmore prior to the show.

Ajax Hall is the lobby area before you enter the venue. It features a bar area, as well as a DJ playing music before and after the show.

One of the side bar areas in the venue.

There are three bar areas inside the venue. One in the back, and one on each of the sides.

Tip #1: As mentioned above, The Fillmore is located in the up and coming Fishtown neighborhood. There are plenty of food options for grabbing a bite before the show. Two of my favorites are Frankford Hall, which serves German food and beer, and Fette Sau, which serves barbeque. If you want something a little less pricey and much more down to earth, grab a burger at Johnny Brenda’s. A Philadelphia institution itself, they also have live music regularly. It’s a great place to stop in after a show.

For this show, we decided to just eat at Mad Rex’s, which is in the same complex as the venue.  This was our second time at Mad Rex’s.  It has a post-apocalypse theme, including drinking your drinks out of silver goblets and being able to cook your own meat on hot lava rocks.  The restaurant even includes a virtual reality game room.  While the décor of the restaurant is very cool and the service is always good, the food itself is a little disappointing.  The menu is limited, and the food is just average.  Our friend had the turkey leg, which he said was delicious.  My husband and I split the burger, which was fine, but nothing spectacular.  All in all, it’s convenient to grab food before a show here, but it’s not a restaurant I would seek out otherwise.

Tip #2: Parking near The Fillmore is easy. There are two lots located near the venue. The cost to park is typically $10-15. If your timing is good and you don’t mind walking a little further, you can typically find parking on Frankford Avenue or the surrounding neighborhood streets. Most of it is free, but be sure to read the signs to make sure you aren’t parked illegally. Also, be aware that the trolley comes down Frankford Avenue. I’ve seen people that haven’t parked close enough to the curb, and the trolley can’t get through. They will have your car towed if you are blocking the trolley route.

Tip #3: Because the venue is so small, there really isn’t a bad spot in the room. I usually hang out in the back next to the sound board. That keeps me out of the crowd. From there, I also have good access to the bar and to the bathrooms.



Butcher Brown is a band of jazz musicians based out of Richmond, VA. Band members include DJ Harrison (keys), Andrew Randazzo (bass), Morgan Burrs (guitar), Corey Fonville (drums), and Marcus Tenney (saxophone/trumpet).

We walked into the venue shortly after 7:30 p.m. (the start time on the tickets was 8:00 p.m.), and Butcher Brown was already on the stage and into their set. I wish I would have known they were starting prior to the 8:00 p.m. advertised start time, because I would have come out earlier to check them out.

Butcher Brown on stage warming up the crowd at The Fillmore.

Butcher Brown warmed up the crowd prior to the official start time of the show.

Unfortunately, the crowd was sparse while Butcher Brown was on stage. Those of us that came early, were lucky to catch some of their set. These guys are extremely talented musicians, and their smooth jazz sounds kept your toes tapping the whole time.

Butcher Brown wrapped up their set at 8:00 p.m. The band is currently out on the road supporting Galactic on their winter tour. You can find more information about them at


Rubblebucket is a quirky little indie band based out of Brooklyn, NY. The band is made up of Annakalmia (Kalmia) Traver (lead vocals, tenor and baritone saxophone), Alex Toth (backing vocals, trumpet, bandleader), Adam Dotson (backing vocals, trombone, keyboard), Dandy McDowell (bass) and Ian Hersey (backing vocals, guitar).

The band was formed when Alex and Kalmia met as music majors at the University of Vermont. They released their debut album – Rose’s Dream – in March of 2008, and began touring under the name Rubblebucket Orchestra. In October of 2008, the released their second studio album – Rubblebucket – and dropped the “Orchestra” from their name.

In 2011, the band released their third album – Omega La La – and released it first as a free download. They also embarked on an extensive promotional tour, including an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Their fourth studio album – Survival Sounds – was released in 2014. The album gained some success and the single “Came Out of a Lady” was featured in the movie “Drinking Buddies”. While on tour supporting the album, lead singer Kalmia Traver was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She continued to tour while completing treatment.

In 2016, Rubblebucket went on tour as openers for Lake Street Dive. That was our first opportunity to see them, and we’ve been hooked ever since.

Rubblebucket taking the stage for their set at The Fillmore.

Rubblebucket took the stage and really entertained the crowd with their set. I think they gained a lot of new fans!

Rubblebucket took the stage at 8:30 p.m. Traver, as always, has her own unique style. She was wearing a silver glitter sweater, green velvet pants, polka dot rain boots, and a red hat.

Lead singer Kalmia Traver wearing polka dot rain boots.

You never know what lead singer Kalmia Traver will be wearing during a Rubblebucket show!

Toth and Dotson not only keep the crowd entertained with their horns, but they add some background dancing throughout the set as well, including their moves on “Donna”.

Rubblebucket moved through some of their older songs that were familiar to their fans in the crowd. That included playing “Silly Fathers”, which Traver introduced as a song going way back to the beginning. After the song was over, Traver gave a shout out to Toth’s dad – Gary – who was in the audience. The crowd responded with chants of “Gary, Gary!”, which brought a big smile to Toth’s face.

Alex Toth kneeling on the edge of the stage singing.

Alex Toth’s dad was in the audience for the show, which I’m sure made it extra special for him!

As usual, Rubblebucket’s set was full of energy. The people around us that didn’t know the band, quickly got into the music and were caught up in their energy. When the band went into the song “If U C My Enemies” from their latest EP, a lot of the crowd recognized it and started singing. The song got some decent air play from the local alternative radio station last spring/summer.

A tradition at a Rubblebucket show, is for Traver, Toth and Dotson to go out in the crowd and parade through “Mardi Gras style” during “Came Out of a Lady”. It was a little bit of a challenge at The Fillmore, which has a really high stage along with a rail in front of the stage. Getting out into the audience was fairly easy, but getting back on the stage was a bigger challenge. I actually had to hold Dotson’s trombone while he climbed back over the rail to get to the stage.

Toth getting ready to climb down into the crowd.

It was a big jump down, but the band still managed to get out in the crowd during the show.

Rubblebucket wrapped up their set with “Carousel Ride”. From the people around me, I know that the band gained a few more fans. We talked to Toth for a few minutes after the show, and he said their new album will be out late summer. He said they will be hitting the road in support of the album in the fall.

This is a band I recommend you check out! You can stay up to date with news about their new album and their tour in fall, by checking out their website at


Galactic was formed in 1994 under the name Galactic Prophylactic. They started out as an octect, but eventually pared down to a sextet. Current band members are Robert Mercurio (bassist), Jeff Raines (guitarist), Stanton Moore (drummer), Rich Vogel (Hammond organist), and Ben Ellman (saxophonist).

The band started when childhood friends Raines and Mercurio moved to New Orleans to attend college. In New Orleans, the friends got into the local funk scene, which was full of talented bands like The Meters and Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

The duo teamed up with Moore, Ellman, Vogel and vocalist Theryl de Clouet. In 2004, they decided to part ways with DeClouet, and recorded and performed as an instrumental group. They released “From the Corner to the Block” in 2007, where they decided to add vocals back in to their music. The album featured a number of rappers including Juvenile and Boots Riley. Since that time, they’ve toured with several different vocalists. Most recently – including this tour – they have toured with Erica Falls.

Galactic with Erica Falls singing on stage.

Erica Falls has joined Galactic as lead vocalist on this tour.

Their most recent album – “Into the Deep” – was released in 2015, and features vocals by Macy Gray, J.J. Grey, and David Shaw (lead singer of The Revivalists) among others.

Galactic didn’t take the stage until almost 10:00 p.m. They opened with an instrumental song Cineramascope. Erica Falls first took the stage on their second song – Higher and Higher.

The band featured Falls on vocals for the majority of their songs. While they are definitely entertaining on the instrumental songs, adding Falls to the mix brought another level of energy. Strutting across the stage in her pink pumps, Falls not only has an amazing voice, but she is a great performer. She interacted with the crowd throughout the show, getting the audience to clap and sing along.

Erica Falls on the stage singing.

Erica Falls performed on most of the songs with the band. She added that little something extra, and got the crowd involved in the songs.

The band performed song after song with lots of energy. It felt like a New Orleans’ Mardi Gras party from start to finish. Even though I wasn’t familiar with most of the songs, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the energy of the show.

Galactic playing the organ during the show.

The organ gives Galactic that unique jazz funk sound!

After coming back to the stage after a quick encore break, Galactic gave us a treat by playing the theme song from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, which of course was made famous by Philadelphia native Will Smith.

Ellman on stage playing the saxophone.

The horns are the stars of a Galactic show!

Galactic is continuing with their winter tour through the end of March. They have a few dates in the spring, and then they’ll be hitting the road again in August and September. Check out their website at to find out where you can see them on the road!

Set List:  Cineramascope, Higher and Higher, Hard Times, Never Called You Crazy, 65 Bars and Taste of Soul, You Don’t Know, Action Speaks Louder Than Words, Clap Your Hands, Big Whiskers, Right On, Hold On To Let Go, Hey Na Na, Crazyhorse Mongoose Medley, Into the Deep, Dolla Diva, Heart of Steel  Encore:  Blackbird Special, Going Down

Have questions about seeing a show at The Fillmore?  Want to know more about Butcher Brown, Rubblebucket or Galactic? Comment below or e-mail me at

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