In conjunction with Philadelphia’s Wizard World Comic Con, the epic Star Wars metal cover band Galactic Empire is in town. I was intrigued by the group ever since I saw their early YouTube videos. The idea of combining Star Wars and metal is a no-brainer. They’re two of my favorite things in one, with humor of course. Now with a full-length album and a few tours coming up, the group is bound to take over this planet.
The show was at the Trocadero, a historic music venue and movie theatre that’s been a staple in the city for almost 150 years. It has a very classic feel to it with a fairly sizable stage. The crowd was a mix of con goers and metalheads, but mostly the former. It was an interesting meeting of people. There was a guy in a Thor costume and a few people in sith robes with lightsabers. Opening the night was local band In the Presence of Wolves. I got to the venue towards the beginning of their set. Armed with a six-string bass, poofy-haired frontman Vini Stamato lead the group with enthusiasm, but I really didn’t care much for the music. Nothing really stood out to me. Alternative/prog metal isn’t really my thing, but they played their hearts out.
Next up with another local band, the three-piece psych rock Flux Capacitor. Their soundscape was definitely unique, taking elements from jam bands of the ’60s and ’70s, eastern and middle eastern melodies, and techno. The interplay between Peter Specht‘s guitar and Jason Specht‘s keys was impeccable, with Jason often playing two different keyboards at once. They played past-faced, intricate, groovy numbers that you can’t help but nod your head to. The riffs and licks were catchy one after another; like going on a fun trippy journey through a portal. This group is now officially on my radar. I need to go back and listen to their discography!
With the cylindrical lights in the background of the Star Wars film sets and a roadie dressed as an imperial officer, the stage was set for Galactic Empire. I was ready for a fully armed and operational metal band. They entered the stage fully decked out in imperial garb, with Boba Fett on drums, a stormtrooper on bass, and an imperial guard, a TIE pilot, and of course Darth Vader on guitars. They had to make custom costumes that were slightly altered from the originals in order to avoid being sued. I pray they don’t alter them any further. I love the fact that the band fully embraces who they are. There were Darth Vader spoken interludes between the tracks, he force choked a guy on stage, and the imperial officer threw some goodies into the audience during their set.
It was amazing to hear a collection of the best of John Williams‘ score that we all know and love played on stage in the form of metal. The renditions they performed were true to form, though of course they had their own arrangements. The fact they were able to play skillfully despite the overbearing costumes is highly commendable. “Imperial March” was amazingly evil of course and epic as all hell. They even played the cantina song, a welcome change of pace and a classic in its own right. They also jammed a few prequel songs: “Battle of the Heroes” and “Duel of Fates”. Say what you want about the quality of that trilogy, the music was awesome. They utilized blast beats, which is a love it or hate it kind of thing. I’m not really a fan of them, but I didn’t really mind it in a live setting. The bass drum wasn’t even really that noticeable.
There was a small mosh pit that occurred with only a handful of people, but a security guy shut it down after a while. I’ve seen much more violent pits happen at shows and no one cared. Maybe because it was an all ages show? Fun while it lasted, but still annoying. I had a really fun time at the show. This show had a different, geekier vibe due to the convention happening and that was welcomed. I wish Galactic Empire had a longer set, but what they gave me was outstanding. Can’t wait to see them again.
Check out our latest interview with Galactic Empire here.