The Road to Rowdytown: An exclusive look behind the scenes with Big Gigantic
On Saturday night, Big Gigantic sold out its first ever headlining show at Red Rocks. We've been following the talented duo since the early days, so with the eagerly anticipated arrival of Rowdytown, the aptly named night for the penultimate show at Red Rocks, we followed the guys around to bring you a day in the life of the band. Here is the road to Rowdytown.
In the early hours of Saturday, Dominic Lalli was sipping coffee and messing with his mastered audio in the humble studio at manager Ben Baruch's home. Lining the walls were dozens of boxes of merchandise, including 3,000 inflatable saxophone that were given out at the door.
Jeremy Salken, meanwhile, was on the other side of town getting brunch with his visiting family from the East Coast. I met up with him around 11:30 a.m. just outside of a small bistro on the Pearl Street Mall, and we headed up to Red Rocks. During the ride, he reflected on his path to Big Gigantic, which included stints in hardcore bands, bluegrass bands and some fan-touring with Zilla nearly a decade ago.
This is not the first time Big Gigantic has played Red Rocks, but it is the first headlining show for the duo. In 2010, Big Gigantic opened for Sound Tribe Sector 9, and then again in 2011, the outfit played the opening night of Global Dance Festival. At both points, Salken remarked that it felt like it was a dream, and that dream has continued with Big G's first headlining gig at Red Rocks.
Salken arrived slightly earlier than Lalli to the venue for sound check. Carrying in his cymbals and some other gear, Salken took to this drum kit to work out any kinks and test the structure with which he has perched on for the 2012 tour. (It debuted at the Boulder Theater in January).
All in all, the sound check took around two hours to complete. As Lalli and Salken were finishing up, GRiZ (aka Grant Kwiecinski) and Raw Russ (aka Berk Gibbs) were chilling on stage waiting their turn. Main support Macklemore and Ryan Lewis checked through some songs, tweaking audio for the trumpet and vocals provided by, as lyricist Macklemore put it, "the heavenly voice of Ray Dalton."
This was the first Red Rocks show produced by ThisSongIsSick.Com, the site run by Nick Guarino, and it went off without any problems -- that we could see at least. Guarino has been hard at work over the past five years shedding light on new music through his website and generally blowing up artists long before they reach the mainstream light.
Has it paid off? Oh yes. Guarino was all smiles all night as each artist performed, and he got the best recognition, as if the 10,000 people at Red Rocks haven't visited his site before, when Macklemore threw him direct props. That has to be a cool feeling.
As the sound check dwindled and the artists retired to their respective green rooms, the clock was nearing 5:15 -- just a little behind schedule -- and the rambunctious parking lots, which were full by this point, were filing up to the venue steps and ramps. As the clock ticked on, a raucous rampage of fans could be heard screaming as they made their way up to the ticket scanners and gates.
On the heels of the massive success he's enjoyed with TSIS, Guarino has taken on management duties for GRiZ. The two have become an unstoppable duo in the music world, and the chemistry between the two is palpable. Ensuring his spot at Rowdytown wasn't some favor -- GRiZ has been making bigger waves in music than anyone else producing right now, including cameo spots with Gramatik (appropriately nicknamed "GRiZMatik"), as well as collaborations with Big Gigantic (Lalli later pulled him out on stage during the Big G set for two songs.)
As the openers commenced their sets, Salken and Lalli were running around backstage shaking hands and giving hugs to friends and family. A late arrival, Dillon Francis came up the backstage entrance, and after dealing with the strict security at the door, was finally let in to the venue at roughly 7:30 -- minutes before his start time. Lalli met him at the door with passes and escorted him straight to his green room -- and then straight to the stage.
At this point, it was all business, with Lalli making sure artists were getting to the stage on time. Ben Baruch, meanwhile had changed into a signature pink button down, and Salken was just looking chill. The moments before taking the stage at Red Rocks has to be one of the most intense feelings in the world, yet Lalli and Salken were all smiles, either hiding it perfectly or soaking it all up. These two guys are humble about their success and grateful for everyone who has helped them along the way. The backstage area was literally buzzing with local celebrities and friends (Elm & Oak crew, members of TwoFresh, both sides of Lalli's and Salken's families and the Cinesthetics video production team, among others.
It was within the final moments before the show that the transformation happened, with Salken sporting his video-equipped goggles, and Lalli cradling his saxophone with confidence. The final walk up the ramp was made with Baruch, and in the seconds prior to taking the stage, the three men gathered together for an intimate moment.
Hard work, sacrifice and fun have been the rungs on this ladder to success, and these three musketeers are still climbing together. This is the first headlining show for Big Gigantic at Red Rocks. This is sold out. The light show is unprecedented. There are so many firsts tonight, but all they want in this moment is to get rowdy. When the lights dropped, Lalli and Salken took their places, and Red Rocks was about to "Rise and Shine." Welcome to Rowdytown.
For more photos, visit our full slide show.
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