Concert Review: Big Gigantic
By Drew Parrish
Big Gigantic with GRiZ
House of Blues, San Diego
October 4, 2012
I walked out of the House of Blues around midnight unable to hear properly, exhausted, dripping in sweat, and utterly refreshed. The music I had just experienced rejuvenated my relationship with electronic dance music; it reminded me why the rise of electronic dance music (EDM) makes perfect sense, and why it can be so awesome. When I walked in, the opening artist GRiZ had just dropped the song “Smash the Funk” (a personal favorite of mine off his recently released album Mad Liberation). A song that has quintessential dubstep drops, danceable hip-hop breakdowns, a jazzy live saxophone, and title that was conveniently ironic, because what this show brought to San Diego on Thursday night was the funk, in a completely reimagined way.
For the rest of the GRiZ set I proceeded to dance like a fool to the high energy music produced by Grant Kwiecinski (GRiZ) and revel in his ability as I recognized intricately layered samples, from artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., accompanying the sonic minefields that typify dubstep. This fusion of genres ignited the dance floor and very nicely prepared the audience for the headlining act, Big Gigantic.
As long as I am using ironic titles to talk about the night, let me just say that music of Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken pretty much lives up to the name of their musical project, Big Gigantic. The brainchild of Dominic Lalli, Big Gigantic was born in Boulder, CO in 2008 and developed when Lalli wasn’t playing saxophone for Colorado’s genre bending jam-masters The Motet. But Lalli did not leave the sax behind when he pursued Big Gigantic, rather he made it the group’s trademark as he laid soulful and melodic sax playing over a torrent of dance beats. Add Jeremy Salken on a live drum set, and dubstep just got downright groovy.
From the moment Big Gigantic started, they didn’t let up and neither did the audience. The energy was palpable as they expertly wove and ploughed their way in and out of songs like “Sky High,” and “Beginning of the End.” As if the audible stimulation was not enough, the boys brought to town an expansive light set up featuring two towers of screens that produced choice images and lighting effects. However, the most sensational aspect the show was being apart of the audience. It was as if we were puppets attached to strings made of music. At one point when Big Gigantic played their remix of “I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc I immediately saw dollar bills being waved and thrown. We even passed around a dollar and the person to have it at the end of the song got to keep it (or so I thought when I passed the bill to the girl standing behind me). By the end of the set, the crowd was so pumped that the wait for the encore was the shortest I have ever seen. Lalli and Salken did not disappoint when they charged back out and dropped an epic remix of the popular song “I Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavilion.
It is obvious why electronic dance music has exploded in popularity, what person doesn’t want to dance like a hooligan sometimes? The atmosphere is infectious. Yet I have often been alienated by the EDM genre because it seems as if artists sometimes sacrifice creativity and innovation in their work for popularity. This show featured artists that garnered popularity because of their creativity and innovation, and so I was refreshed and ready for more.