What sort of huge, raucous event could warrant switching the moniker of one the most iconic stages on the planet? Something Big Gigantic.
The Boulder-based duo will take over Red Rocks Sept. 29 with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Dillon Francis, Raw Russ, and Griz for an evening being dubbed “Rowdytown.” It is the first time producer/saxophonist Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken are headlining the venue, and the plan is to throw a party for the entire Front Range.
Lalli and Salken have been playing together since 2008, gathering a following for their up-tempo live performances. With Salken banging skins and Lalli blasting his sax over bass-intensive background, combined with a trip-tastic lighting rig, Big Gigantic is excited to bring their success full circle.
“We started here in Boulder. I feel like everyone in Boulder has our back, and it’s such a cool feeling and it’s great to have local support and amazing fans. Boulder, Denver and the whole Colorado family is pretty insane. We’re really stoked to say we’re from Boulder, and that’s how we do it,” Lalli says.
Good jam bands play with a tightness that comes from constant improvisation and repetition. For Big G, after four album releases including this year’s Nocturnal, which reached No. 2 on the iTunes electronic charts, life grinding it out on the road has provided a comfort level between the two members.
“Dom and I have been playing together for years,” Salken says. “So we just have like this rapport with each other and we know how to feel each other out. There’s times when we’ll be about ready to go on stage, and Dom will be like, ‘Oh yeah there’s a new song that I put in there, you got it, don’t even worry about it,’ and I’ll be like literally figuring the tune out in front of a couple thousand people.”
That sort of artistry can backfire for more inexperienced musicians, but Big G has found a way to meld the jazzy sounds of saxophone with the cacophony of beats and effects that today’s produced music provides. Drawing from the two realms and between, many times the band finds itself just playing.
“Sometimes I have a beat in mind, sometimes I have, like, a melody from my sax, and then I go and I just start trying to create a song that is representative of us,” Lalli says. “It’s great to look over and just know that your buddy’s right there with you ready to do whatever you want to do. It’s a real treat.”
As for Rowdytown at Red Rocks, Salken says Big Gigantic will be “playing a bunch of stuff from Nocturnal, and then there’s all sorts of new stuff kinda being rotated in there. Dom is constantly hunting for new music and digging for stuff,” Salken says.
Regarding any special collaborations, “There might be a couple surprises in there, but for the most part it’s gonna be us getting after it,” Salken says.
One of the surprises for the show will be the use of projection mapping, which will splash video imagery onto the rocks while the music plays. It will bring a new visual element to an amphitheatre that has hosted thousands of shows over the years.
“It is the first time it’s ever happened, and we thought it was a great opportunity for us to add to the whole experience. We have our own lighting designer and we have these other people who approached us. We’re all working together to bring the video content that we already have and integrating it with the video mapping on the rocks,” Lalli says.
Whether it’s the lights, the sounds or just the energy of the crowd, Big Gigantic seems to be rounding into form as musicians and doing their moniker justice. For all the hype and fervor put into their performances, these local musicians have one foot firmly rooted in tradition while simultaneously dipping the other into the creative pool that can buoy a career. The headline gig at Red Rocks seems just another signpost on the road of things to come.
“It’s been such a wild ride, and we’re just trying to grow and develop every day, get our sound bigger and better,” Lalli says. “We’ve tried pretty hard to progress as much as we can, and we’re definitely having some great times for sure.”