Big Gigantic, The Floozies shatter preconceived notions

Big Gigantic 1 smallA full on audio-sensory assault went down Friday night in Reno, as the Knitting Factory hosted the Get On Up Tour with Big Gigantic and The Floozies.

EDM and its rabbit holes of subgenres is at peak popularity in this digital age and has become a game changer in the live music industry. Show productions with dizzying arrays of light shows and graphics, with an attitude of pumping it to 11, captivate crowds into monstrous dance parties. However, one shot that has been levied against DJs and EDM artists is that lack of musicality in the performances, with some people looking at them as button pushers playing glorified playlists.

Big Gigantic 3 smallTwo bands that shatter those reputations are Big Gigantic and The Floozies. Big Gigantic is a product of the burgeoning livetronica scene of Colorado, with producer/saxophonist Dominic Lalli (a former member of Colorado’s The Motet) linking up with drummer Jeremy Salken in 2009. Salken himself is a former merch guy for the band on tour. A crowd-favorite in the festival circuit, the duo tag-teams Lalli’s digitalized jams and sharp saxophone with relentless drumming from Salken, bridging the gap between live music and digital music and showing how both can coexist in front of a crowd.

The Floozies, brothers Matt Hill (producer/guitarist) and Mark Hill (drummer), are following in the footsteps of Big Gigantic and have grown a considerable following with their digitized funk since their humble beginning in Lawrence, Kansas.

Taking the opening slot of the night, The Floozies provided a bright spark to ignite the dance party. The duo quickly tapped into crowd with their slick production and kaleidoscopic neon light show, as if the opening sequence of “Miami Vice” was pixelated and shot out of a canon.

That 1980s influence also could be felt in the electronic funk, which snapped like the best of Rick James and Parliament/Funkadelic and was awash in talk boxes, flashy synths and sparkly guitar squelched through a dubstep filter. The songs had a definite groove that allowed Matt to add a popping rhythm guitar or a solo that swan dived off the peak of the drop seamlessly, while Mark’s hard-hitting beats gave every cymbal crash and bass thump more weight. They kept the crowd hyped and proved they were the perfect pairing with Big Gigantic.

With the eager audience already drenched in sweat, Big Gigantic took the stage ready to give their fans a diabolical dance experience for the next hour and half. Employing a non-stop mixtape of thundering bass, glitchy samples, worbling synthesizers and lights that rat-a-tat like a machine gun, Big Gigantic cleared the floor of any stragglers and partied hard with the battle-hardened dancers with its mesmerizing show.

Lalli’s deft touch for flow made sure the concert never left fifth gear, even while taking the pedal off the floor just long enough to keep the whole operation from overheating. It is something he certainly picked up playing in jamtastic The Motet and applied well cycling through crunchy trip-hop, funky dubstep, anthemic house and futuristic techno. He was a Svengali who could read the crowd like a mood ring, offering glittering bass-loops for those feeling sensual and gnashing synths for those needing to wild-out.

For the people who doubt or disregard electronic music in a live setting, Lalli and Salken are an eye-opener as to what is possible. The band brought an unbelievable energy to the stage Friday, bopping as hard as the front row behind their instruments. There was no button-pushing for the duo as Lalli cranked out glowing saxophone lines and Salken bombastically pummeled his kit.

Furthermore, they are talented musicians who redefine their songs in a live setting. Not only did Lalli used to be in a band, he holds a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. His sax playing was direct and emotional, adding soulful flare to his hooks and solos. He found the heart of the groove as easily and as skilled as any jazz musician.

Salken was an able partner and pushed the songs to breaking at any chance he could. While most drummers get a chance to pause during a show after every song, Salken can’t take a break from the relentless pace of a Big Gigantic show, and his dedication to non-stop playing is a feat in and of itself. But he never wavered and pumped the crowd with rapid-fire snare work and driving rhythm.

Some left the show with sweaty grins while others could barely keep it together after the sensory overload of Big Gigantic. Either way, they left with the bass still ringing in their ears, Big Gigantic fresh on their bodies.

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