Review: Big Gigantic brings livetronica to Echostage

Review: Big Gigantic brings livetronica to Echostage

Few names within the livetronica movement are as recognizable as Big Gigantic. Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken, a Boulder, Colorado, duo known for bringing "Sax & Drums" to the main stage, brought their unique show to Echostage on Saturday with a stacked lineup of up-and-comers and a whole lot of sax.

Openers Louis the Child and Mija each showcased their own distinct mixing styles before the headliner. Louis the Child, a Chicago duo who describe their sound as "music that makes you happy," had a strong trip-hop set that definitely made the growing crowd very happy as their night started.

Skrillex protege Mija took to the stage shortly after 11:00 p.m. and her mentor's influence was apparent. The multigenre spanning set went from the heaviest of bass drops to some wildly energetic happy-hardcore tracks.

Audience members exchanged colorful bracelets made of plastic beads, known as kandi, to the sound of the low end as a sign of love within the dance community. Glovers were out in full force, performing with their LED-adorned fingers for the masses in time with the beat. The crowd was the perfect example of the current EDM enthusiast, decked out in colorful garb and dancing carelessly to the music enveloping them.

The club was barely full when Mija started her set, but by the time the crew was putting the final touches on Big Gigantic's massive setup, it was packed to the brim. Echostage's regular LED wall was supplemented by a 104-light rig behind the drum set and table that make up the duo's performance equipment.

Lalli and Salken took their spots in front of the crowd, bathed in green light, and were met with the cheers of a lively crowd ready to dance. As Lalli played the first notes on his saxophone, Salken built up to the first drop on his drum set. When it broke, the ravers went wild.

The high energy persisted throughout the rest of the night as tune after tune went off and the audience danced along to every single beat. Salken and Lalli closed out the night by gathering at the front of the stage for a selfie with the crowd.

 

Originally published in The Diamondback

Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen bring their atypical boyband vibe to the 9:30 Club

Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen bring their atypical boyband vibe to the 9:30 Club

Catfish And The Bottlemen have gotten me through some tough times — including love and the loss of it. Singer Van McCann's angsty, alcoholic love songs for post-punk revivalists have made their way over the airwaves, across the pond and into our hearts for about two years now. Riding the high of their May release The Ride, the Bottlemen stopped at the 9:30 Club in Washington a few weeks ago for one of the last stops before they head back to the United Kingdom to finish out the month.

The band's biting guitars and McCann's raucous voice were met by the shouts of audience members. The band has an odd dynamic with their listeners. The crowd is a lot of fangirls, screaming for the group as if they were your typical boyband à la One Direction.

But while some of the standard boyband themes are there, don't be mistaken. They are not your typical boyband.

McCann's lyrics reek of cigarettes and slur as if through drunken binges, and that's what sets the group apart. Its modernization of punk rock recognizes the group's musical roots — heavy guitars and wild performances — but slows the pace down to something more palatable to the masses. Catchy choruses and McCann's fuck-it attitude on tracks such as "7" and "Cocoon" weave themselves into distortion and grunge, with the end product somewhere between Johnny Marr and early Fall Out Boy.

Sharp solos cut through the mix, standing out from the background noise. Guitarist Johnny Bond's work stands out in the song "Soundcheck," and the energy and emotion the band puts into its work shines in moments like those.

The band played work from both of its albums, The Ride and The Balcony. The old-but-new sound on these releases seemed to affect listeners of all ages the same, as demonstrated by the 30-something by me who sang along to every word, bouncing up and down with as much energy as the 18-year-olds I saw in the front of the crowd.

Closing in reverse fashion, the last song Catfish and the Bottlemen played was "Tyrants," the first song McCann ever wrote — and with it, a bitter tale of a post-show hookup ends in a raucous wall of noise, ending the night on a high.

 

Originally published in The Diamondback

Prophets of Rage, AWOLNATION “Make America Rage Again” in high-octane concert

In the desolate wasteland that is American politics in 2016, the people need heroes. To summon them, all the people needed to do was raise a solitary fist, and their saviors would come running. Who are these saviors, you ask? The Prophets of Rage.

Like the Justice League of protest music, the Prophets of Rage are the result of amalgamating members of Rage Against the Machine with Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy, and B-Real of Cypress Hill, forming a supergroup on a mission to "take the power back," according to their mission statement on their website.

The group opened their "Make America Rage Again" tour with support from AWOLNATION at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia, on Friday.

AWOLNATION's set started in darkness with a solitary spaceman holding a lantern. As the atmospheric sounds were drowned out by the bass line of the opening track "Run," frontman Aaron Bruno took to the stage singing, "I am a human being, capable of doing beautiful things," before the song dropped into a frenzy of screaming and head-banging.

While the opening songs had some technical difficulties (namely Bruno's microphone cutting out frequently) the rest of the set went smoothly. Most of the people at the show were there for the Prophets of Rage, so there was a noticeable lack of audience response to Bruno's requests for jumping or hands in the air; however, by the end of the set the band properly warmed up the crowd to rage.

The prophets came on stage after a short turntablism demonstration by DJ Lord. They had their fists in the air and opened with Public Enemy's "Prophets of Rage" before transitioning into Rage Against the Machine's "Guerilla Radio," which embodies the supergroup's movement perfectly: "It has to start somewhere/ It has to start sometime/ What better place than here/ what better time than now?"

Tom Morello, the guitarist from Rage Against the Machine, told audience members that the band will donate a portion of the proceeds from the show to a local homeless charity. Morello also left the audience with a message: fight for the world you really want to live in.

Morello, drummer Brad Wilk, and bassist Tim Commerford proved they are still worth their salt after not releasing any new music in nine years by banging out some of the most memorably aggressive protest songs in recent memory. Their electrifying energy set the stage and acted as the medium for Chuck D and B-Real to deliver the message.

The two rappers gave their best shot keeping up with the band, and for the most part succeeded at matching pace. The highlight for the pair came halfway through the set, running a back and forth medley of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy classics, including "Insane in the Brain" and "Can't Truss It." For a group with all members nearing 50 years old (if they have not already crossed that line) the Prophets of Rage definitely deserved their title, as the countless moshers in the crowd can attest.

The Prophets closed with one of Rage Against the Machine's most well-known songs, "Killing in the Name." Watching an arena full of Americans wearing Donald Trump-esque "Make America Rage Again" hats while chanting "F-ck you, I won't do what you tell me" 24 years after the song's debut makes you think — there may be something to this revolution.

 

Originally published in The Diamondback