The saxophone is the way to the heart, period. No other instrument has such an alluring sound nor as many cool points for it’s presence, whether it is the main melodic element or just a portion of a song, if played right, it leaves the listener besotted and wanting.
Jazz Sax, especially used by wunderkind Jazz composer and Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” saxophonist Kamasi Washington, can make almost any musical composition better with it’s presence; especially Electronic music.This past Friday at Hollywood’s Avalon I saw a duo who have perfectly commingled Bass driven Electronic music and live instrumentation by way of drums and the saxophone, and that is Colorado’s Big Gigantic.
The night opened with a strong House mix from Avalon regular Sam Hiller, this set was a thumping concoction of Deep, Future and Electro that built in energy as the massive dance hall filled more and more. The canonical entrance of the excited hundreds, who said nay to the weekend’s tumultuous EDM outing in Vegas to instead enjoy the party at home, could be seen sashaying and running to the dance floor to groove to Hiller’s slick House mix and start their night the right way, which with Hiller, they most certainly did.
After Sam Hiller came an electrifying performance from New Zealand duo Mt Eden that transcended the tightly packed crowd’s energy to an impossible high. Jesse Cooper and Harley Rayner were constantly bouncing between DJ and microphone duties, looking like they were having a world of fun doing it as well.
Their music goes across the spectrum of bass music, formerly they were known as Mt. Eden Dubstep now they dropped the Dubstep in their name but the cerebral bass sound is very much alive in their output, throughout the mix they bounced between tempos without reproach and hyped the crowd at every drop. When they played their seminal 2009 tune “Sierra Leone”, the crowd chanted the signature vocal melody back to them, they had a smile on their faces knowing that people hold their music to that high of a regard.
These guys have been making incredible tunes for over six years and are a must see DJ performance in today’s constantly evolving Bass music scene, these guys graced the Avalon for the first time for this set but they won the venue over easily with their sincere set that didn’t feel forced or orchestrated to be perfect, Mt. Eden just want their listeners to go crazy to their music and have fun while playing.
After Mt. Eden came the headliner everyone was waiting for, Big Gigantic. I saw these guys back in 2013 at a Budweiser’s Made in America party and they completely blew me away with their fusion of live instrumentation and Ableton set, yet again I was amazed with their set this time around. The duo, consisting of producer/saxophonist Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken gave the packed Avalon on hell of a show.
Listening to Big Gigantic is like listening to the house band of a Jazz club in the year 2115. They suffuse their music with a Jazz feel that is equal parts forward thinking and nostalgic. They make technology based music regardless of genre, if it can have a sax that imbues euphoria, then it is very much the sonic wonder that is Big Gigantic. Every song they played had Lalli’s sax giving each song they played a rich texture. Salken’s drum work was beyond adroit, he threw in fills that gave their set an organic feeling. Who needs a drum machine when you can have a drummer this well skilled in complimenting programmed music?
For over an hour and a half they played with the same fervor and skill from start to finish, nothing felt dragged out or out of sync, they are as much of machines as the core of their music. Lalli bounced between playing the s**t out of his sax and cueing the next song in the mix, smiling at the crowd’s clamorous cheers with every track that came on. The set had all of their great originals along with tracks from other artists integrated within the sub-woofer devastating set, including last year’s “Blue Dream” which I enjoyed a lot. The whole crowd screamed frantically when they played their much lauded rework of Aloe Blaac’s “I Need a Dollar”, these guy can make even the angriest crowd member boogie to their funky sound.
Many naysayers will say Electronic music is pointless because of the lack of live performance, I recommend those people try Big Gigantic on for size. Among the many acts amalgamating Electronic and live, including Future Funk outfit Gramatik, they perfectly coalesce the two into perfect harmony, young Electronic fans are lucky to have them because we need acts who can show their influence such incredible reverence while taking the anachronistic elements into the musical language of Electronics. They smiled at the end of their set with the crowd’s undying praise, they have won over another crowd with their exciting twist on EDM. The night’s closer was DJ/Producer Kill Paris, his set was a glitchy yet oddly ethereal experience that played into the wee hours of Saturday morning concisely, a great closer for a great night at the Avalon.