Big Gigantic finds the common ground between the EDM and jam scenes.
Jam bands age like any rock stars. The greats get older alongside fans, both eventually burnt out to some degree by now. The genre surely isn't dead as this weekend's Widespread Panic shows illustrate, but at American music festivals - Voodoo included - would keep the jam band culture's woozy, extended spirit alive in the bleeps and bloops of electronic music?
Big Gigantic makes a forceful case for open lines between those genres. The Colorado duo's rise has grown congruently with EDM's expanding festival coup. It's mentioned among big acts known for melding live instrumentation with electronic production like STS9, perhaps the most iconic "jamtronica" group. Big Gigantic not only owes its success to former tour mates STS9, but to an obsessive, young EDM festival culture, says drummer Jeremy Salken. "I think there's an advantage in the way the jam band community really rallies around everybody," Salken says, claiming a fan base that is eager to latch on to every sound Big Gigantic puts out on stage or online. Getting in on the buzz was a cornerstone of Big Gigantic's success. "It's just part of 'the thing," Salken says.
That "thing" is deafening volume, overwhelming light sets and inordinately long shows — but none of these are damning descriptions. They've been tossed about since jam bands came around, and similarly, EDM shows attract thousands of festival goers who in no way are oblivious to the associated drug reputation. "It's all another sensory experience going to the show," Salken says.
Drug use not only embraced but expected, and the music is made with the trips in mind. The YouTube comment sections for clips of active EDM bands regularly devolve into arguments about the surrounding drug culture, but drug use at a music festival isn't anything new. "I don't feel that it is any more prevalent now than it was years ago," Salken said in an interview with Chicago Music Magazine. "If anything, what's kinda cool about the scene right now is there is all these really young kids that are finding electronic music for the first time."
Salken says fan response to Big Gigantic is only positive for him and bandmate Dominic Lalli, who plays saxophone and handles production on stage. Touring is second nature for the duo, as its jazz- and hip-hop-infused electronica has catapulted Big Gigantic into high-demand status on the festival circuit. "You're always getting in front of new people," Salken says. "It's all part of the scene." Whatever connotations, positive or negative, are associated with EDM festival culture, Salken is thankful for its welcoming embrace.
Big Gigantic takes the Le Plur stage on Saturday at 7:15.