French Quarter Festival

April 09, 2005

As expected, local rock band Ellipsis met with a fairly tough crowd because they were just that--a rock band. The Hibernia Pavilion French Quarter Fest stage on Saturday afternoon housed funk, brass, and blues bands, but Ellipsis drew from Led Zeppelin, 311, and Incubus equally, so they were at an immediate disadvantage. I cringed when vocalist Craig Paddock immediately took control of the stage with Robert Plant's swagger and Brandon Boyd's clear, soaring tone. "Oh, crap," I thought. "This isn't what the crowd wants." I was ultimately proven wrong. While the rest of the crowd tried to figure out if they liked Ellipsis, a twenty strong gang of die-hard fans leaned against the barricade and bolstered the band. Paddock was joined by bassist Mark Schlackman, drummer Eric Heigle, and guitarist John Michael Rouchelle.

Ellipsis played four or five originals before they won the crowd over with a cover of Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times." From there on out, the band sailed smooth as day turned into night and ships passed behind them.

Ellipsis played music that floated in spaciness, but they also incorporated a reggae sound that was reminiscent of 311. It would seem like syncopated punctuations and full, catchy, almost symphonic vocal and musical melodies wouldn't go together. But, like Incubus, they pulled the mix off well.

Paddock did a good job of encouraging the crowd to get into the music. With a smidge more confidence, he could be the leader the band needs. It wasn't surprising Rouchell played a tie-dyed colored guitar. The music was steeped in the classic rock of the '70's and the psychedelia of the '60's.

The set hit a peak when Rouchell took vocal duties for "Cracker Funk," a shameless celebration and wonderful amalgamation of all things good in funk. The band seemed especially tight and confident during this song--like it was obvious they were having more fun playing this one than some of the others. Rouchell needs to do more vocals. His performance during this song was hilarious and outstanding. His Bootsy Collins impression put him over the top--"It's cracker funk, baby."

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