Fearsome gravitational pull

Buoyed by Boulder scene, Big Gigantic keeps growing

P.J. Nutting

There is only one way to describe Big Gigantic’s success, and it doesn’t require a half-assed play on words. The duo’s highly anticipated show at the Fox Theatre, which sold out months ago nearly within a day, marks exactly two years since producer/saxophonist Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken first appeared together alongside fellow Boulderites Rootz vs. Murphy at the B-Side Lounge.


Winning a hefty ally in jamtronica in the form of STS9’s David Murphy, and in a town that continues to ravenously support the genre, it wasn’t long before Big Gigantic took their booming jazz-hop sound from basement clubs to the fields of summer festivals. Their live setup (an unbelievably heavy combo of drums, saxophone and computer production) resonated with STS9’s label, the highly influential 1320 Records, and the rest fell into place.

“I think it’s a whole scene thing — it took everyone doing everything that they were doing at the time they were doing it,” Lalli laughs over the phone with the Boulder Weekly, “all the way up to this moment right now, with us talking, for everything to happen the way it did. I don’t think it was us or them: It was the whole deal, the whole package, everything together.”

And whether it’s Lalli’s expert-yet-accessible saxophone style or his pursuit of explosive bass production that defined the band’s unique sound, it gave Big G the opportunity last summer to tag along as Sound Tribe nearly sold out a two-day run at Red Rocks, and turned a
seemingly doomed gig at Camp Bisco (run by oddball jamtronica champs
The Disco Biscuits) into a surprise blowout that even had the Wu-Tang
Massacre urging for an encore.

Wu-Tang Massacre was billed after us and showed up late,” Lalli says,
“so they were yelling at us on the side like, ‘Keep going!’ And we
turned around to get off and they were [making shooing motions with
their hands] and we’re like ‘OK, we’ll play another one!’ We played for
like, an hour and a half, and in front of a huge crowd.”

“We lucked out,” Salken adds.

was on our side, because it went from shit-show rain to clearing up,
and people just came out of nowhere. We thought we were getting screwed.
At a festival, I’m not doing shit at 3 p.m., I’m not awake.” Salken
laughs, pointing out that the video of the band performing “Limelight,”
now at the top of their MySpace page, chronicles this unexpectedly rowdy
tour stop.

Now in
full throttle for 2011, and fresh off of a performance on the Jam
Cruise, (“basically the best festival you’ve ever been to, but it’s even
better because it’s on a boat,” Lalli says), Big Gigantic is getting a
breath of air before their long-overdue headlining premier in Boulder, a
winter tour across the nation that joins Umphrey’s McGee, and a still-unnamed EP in the works.

with tickets can expect a live premier of Big G’s latest work, a remix
of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” Created in collaboration with
Boulderite and member of opener Fresh2Death, Ben Samples, it’s just
stereotype reinforcement that Boulder is still a good place for ripe

“A lot of
places we go, everyone’s saying, ‘Oh Boulder! Colorado!’ Everyone’s
trying to get that going wherever we’re at, trying to get that scene
happening like we do here,” Lalli says.

laptopper and Boulderite Alex Botwin was a huge influence on how Big
Gigantic came to utilize electronic sounds, and he critically adopted
Lalli as a student to show him where to find the “sick” knob on his

“The reason
why me and Alex bonded so well — one, it’s funny that we have the same
birthday — and two, when I was living in New York, y’know, it’s just a
whole different vibe out there. Everyone’s grinding hard.

I was at music school, everyone was up until 5 in the morning in the
practice room, trying to work on stuff, to get better, to get gigs, to
write music. And really, Alex was the first guy I met around here that
had that kind of drive. I was like, ‘Cool, this guy, this is what I’m
talking about. This is how we do it.’” With any of the band’s three
studio releases, all offered for free on their website, two constants
are the speakerpunishing pulses and the musicianship you would expect
from a genre prefixed with “jam.” In it, you can hear some of the most
intriguing and annoyingly catchy melodies you can find in electronic

“With the
music I’ve been writing, it’s definitely been using that melodic content
and using more chops-oriented stuff as well,” Lalli says. “We will
still add some of those bass-heavy elements to the new stuff, but in a
tasteful way that is conjunction with the sound.”

Basic things like song structure, chord changes(!), and melodic weight, with even obscure lines like the riff from
“Thinking Out Loud” becoming the fans’ instrumental karaoke, it seems
unnatural for Big Gigantic to also embrace the “filth” idealized by
dubstep and most other types of bass music. Even though filth is
intrinsically not catchy or pleasant, and with a saxophone not offering
much help, Lalli said he and Salken aren’t avoiding anything.

I first think about filthy, I think of dirty, raw, grimy kinds of
beats, more kind of makes you have a face that’s like ‘ugh,’ but it’s in
a good way,” Lalli laughs. “But everyone uses it differently and
expands on it, so a filthy set can just be, ‘They killed it.’ Boulder
likes those big drops; that’s for sure. And with our stuff, that’s one
part of the whole thing for us, but definitely a part that we love a

“That’s one
part of why people like some of that music,” Lalli continues, “it’s the
juxtaposition of the melody with the grimy and dirty. You’ll notice it
in a lot of tracks: There’s beautiful vocals and this woman singing, and
then it builds up and drops into the most absurd, rowdy shit.”

when I’m making a build-up into the drop, I’m like, ‘How is this gonna
hit? Red Rocks … uhhhkay, gotta make sure it’s big.’

On the Bill:

Big Gigantic plays
the Fox Theatre on Friday, Jan. 28. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Fresh2Death and
Raw Russ open. Tickets are sold out. 1135 13th St., Boulder,