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Favorite ThisBig Gigantic / The Fillmore (San Francisco, CA) / 03.12.11

Published: March 20, 2011

By: Matthew Thomas

Photos: Susan J. Weiand

Colorado’s Big Gigantic, the livetronica duo of saxophonist/producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken, have been tapped by Chicago’s prog and jam heavyweights Umphrey’s McGee to open their West Coast tour. This pairing gave Big Gigantic a clutch opportunity to hit the legendary Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco, California for a two-night stand. 

Before Big Gigantic’s opening set on Saturday, a surprisingly large crowd had already gathered on the floor. There has been some buzz about Big Gigantic, as of late, thanks in part to a successful multi-festival run last summer and the release of their sophomore album, A Place Behind the Moon, to rave reviews. Couple that with the Umphrey’s diehards who arrived early to secure a spot on the “rail” (the final barricade between the audience and the stage), and there was a warm welcome for the two-man sound machine.
The rail-riders did not seem enthused by the concept of a saxophone playing DJ performing with a drummer, and it came across in their body language. Thus, it was a fitting opener for the duo to drop the title track off of Wide Awake.  Wake up people, it’s time to get down! Some crowd members seemed to get the message. Lalli’s creeping sax riffs pushed the track along, layered upon synth beats and Salken’s syncopated drumming. Moving between his keyboard, his laptop, and his trusty saxophone, Lalli was in perpetual motion. He never stopped smiling, either—clearly enjoying himself, and his band mate was right there with him. 

Displaying their constant evolution, the duo broke out a new track laced with heavy bass that got the crowd (and Lalli) jumping. Those who came to see the band play studio tracks note-for-note were better off grabbing a CD at the merch table. These guys seamlessly improvise, building off the foundation of the original song and branching out into unexplored territories. Working together, they choreograph a dance party, and the incredible chemistry between the two is obvious; offering originals “High & Rising,” “Solitude,” and the drum-riddled, sax-climaxing “Lucid Dreams,” while also exploring and testing remixes of Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar” and Wiz Khalifa’s "Black and Yellow.” Judging by the blank looks of some crowd members, these songs were unfamiliar, but as Lalli sang along they bopped back to the beat.  By the end of the set, even the rail-riders were applauding the performance. Although it was not their usual, guitar-driven music of choice, it was difficult for anyone not to recognize the talent, originality, and effort put forth by the duo from the Rockies. A project less than two years old, this is just the beginning for Big Gigantic; and clearly, we have not seen or heard the last of them.

Umphrey’s McGee showed the respect and admiration they have for their tour mates by bringing Lalli on stage Sunday night. He added saxophone to a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?” One last time, he showed the San Francisco crowd that he can rock with the best of them.

Keep your eyes and ears open for Big Gigantic this summer, they have a BIG itinerary planned. Catch them at any one of the following festivals:
Nocturnal Festival 2011 – Rockdale, Texas
Hangout Music Festival – Gulf Shores, Alabama
Summer Camp – Chillicothe, Illinois
Bella Music Fest – Clarks Grove, Minnesota
Mountain Jam – Hunter, New York
Wakarusa – Ozark, Arkansas
Re:Generation – North Plains, Oregon
Electric Forest – Rothbury, Michigan
All Good Music Festival – Masontown West Virginia
Gathering of the Vibes – Bridgeport, Connecticut
The Big Up – Ghent, New York


Tags: Livetronica