Big Gigantic played the second stop of its Colorado kick-off tour at theFox Theatre
last night in Boulder. The new lights, the openers and the special guest made this stop especially unique. The sold out theater's walls were sweating by the end of the show and hundreds of steaming college students stood shoulder to shoulder, nonstop, for four hours.
Opening up for the night, but certainly not the only time we were able to experience, was Raw Russ and Fresh2Death, both of whom need very little introduction in the local electronic scene. These guys give it everything at every show they play, and this was no exception. Was it because they were opening for Big Gigantic? No it was not. If it's a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or in this case Friday, the group's sets are on-point and the in-set improvisations flow like water off a ducks back. If that duck happened to be standing in front of a cannon, it would probably mimic the thunder-rolling bass drops a bit better.
The anticipation for Big Gigantic has been building ever since the tour dates were dropped several weeks ago. The Fox Theatre show sold out in a snap, thus opening the door to possibly playing shows in Denver and Boulder before going on tour. Thursday night at Gothic Theater saw Jason Hann of Eoto throw down his personal workings (per a cohort who attended the show) and upon hearing that, I knew whatever was planned for the Fox, their home court, would be huge.
Around 11:30, the house lights dropped. Backlit by nine translucent light boxes stacked in the shape of an "M," Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken walked out and made it rain notes of musical joy onto the heads of all the heads. From the first drop, Salken fueled the fire that is Lalli's saxophone. The energy flowing from his pursed lips into his classic -- and incredibly weathered -- saxophone, seemed to magically flow from the bell into the space.
I want to say they opened with "Looking Back," off their most recent A Place Behind The Moon, but I can't be sure. The live production that Big-G puts on gives them so much credibility as artists. As Lalli casually exhausted himself on every note, Salken would be jumping up, ear-to-ear smile, wailing on the high-hat and dropping the hammer of Thor on his crash cymbal. If there was any question as to whether or not Big G represents Boulder, well, the "GET 'EM DOM's" were a-plenty at each song break. When interviewed, Big G hinted that a bigger production was set for Boulder and Denver because so much love is pouring out of these spots, but people were probably not prepared for what Big G had in mind. Treat #1: Bringing out Raw Russ and Ben Samples (of Fresh2Death) to play on a recently remixed Wiz Khalifa track, "Black and Yellow." Things definitely went wild, seeing as black and yellow are CU colors, and the repeated hook was lipped by every person in view.
Treat #2: A very special dedication to David Murphy of Sound Tribe Sector 9, as well as a very original track composed just for the occasion. Murph recently underwent surgery and Lalli requested we all send out the positive to him. Success.
Treat #3: The viral cover of "I Need a Dolla," by Aloe Blacc, again, had everyone lipping along to the lyrics.
Treat #4: Lalli threw props to Big Boi (who was playing the Ogden at the same time) by playing a cover of "Shutterbugg," and then thanked everyone for coming out in Boulder.
If you have ever been to a dubstep show at Cervantes, you have probably heard the Flux Pavilion track, "Gold Dust," somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of times. It's popular and has big drops. When Lalli started into it, I thought a smoke-break was in order, until he threw his sax-skills into the mix and made the song sound thousands of times better. A renewed sense of appreciation for a song that is promiscuous as the ladies of the night.
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They played "High Rise," "Step Up," and songs of Fire It Up. Then, at 1:30, they shut it down. It didn't take but a few moments for the "ENCORE!" chant to start, and as expected, they came back out. Earlier in the show, a stage hand set a microphone on the side stage, almost immediately following the guest acts hyphy "Black and Yellow," cover. Something special was going to be played into that microphone, but the question remained.
That something special was the one and only Karl Denson. An encore with Karl Denson? Yes please. The way he walked out, smiled, tuned his ear to Lalli's sax and just let it fly was the perfect way to end the night. It was real jazz, real music and the flood of sweat pouring off Lalli's face was a testament to the passion Big G puts into the music.
Critics Notebook: Personal Bias: I was introduced to Big G sometime last year, long prior to A Place Behind the Moon's release, when the sound was a bit more electronic and not quite as organic. The new album is full of sax and jazz flavors, and my enthusiasm for them has grown exponentially with seeing them on their home turf.
By The Way: The video crew was annoying. I don't who they were, but as photographer myself, I feel a certain respect is due to the artists, and that respect is not walking across the stage with a large video-camera-stabilizer in your hand every 45 seconds to get the same shot over and over for the entirety of the show. Plus, the Fox didn't sell out to see you film.