This Saturday was a seemingly never-ending, “Did that really just happen?” day full of great music.
NOW, I’d venture to guess that I’m not the only dude with a music blog who’s going to saddle up to a laptop this week and write a sentence that sounds something like the one you just read. That’s because The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival took place over the weekend in Indio, California — nicknamed, if you can believe it, “The City of Festivals” — and it sounds like Saturday’s lineup was exceptionally good. But what the intrepid, music-loving outdoorsmen who attended Coachella may not know is that another unforgettable day packed full of tunes was happening 2,516 miles away, in just-as-sunny Richmond, Virginia. My Saturday also rocked, and its events were split up into three distinct parts, like some benevolent, three-headed musical monster (think Cerberus and Falcor having a fluffy puppy with 3 adorable, boop-able noses). Before I get keystroke diarrhea and try to tell you about the whole day at once, let’s start at the beginning, at a late-afternoon party in a coworker’s backyard.
This was quite the snazzy get-together, being held to celebrate the installation of a beautiful new patio, complete with live music, BBQ, a keg of Legend being emptied one brightly colored, translucent plastic cup at a time, and people striking up conversations with one another, like people do at these sorts of things. In truth, being an introvert, I don’t actually “strike up” conversations. I awkwardly fall backwards into them, subconsciously thankful that someone else started them for me. Nevertheless, I found myself talking to a man who I didn’t know about music, and eventually, his son’s band. And while I know that parents are required by the Magna Carta  to believe wholeheartedly that their child’s band/science project/baton-twirling routine is the most amazing thing since sliced ciabatta, the man I was talking to had a special air of excitement about his son’s music.
As the conversation progressed, it became clear that Jr’s music career wasn’t a small deal. After chatting about Red Rocks — his son’s band had played there, and I’ve always wanted to see a show there — and some of the festivals the group had been a part of — some bigguns — I finally asked what they were called. You could hear pure joy traveling through the air when he got to say the name out loud, as if every utterance of the pair of words was a treasured experience. “Big Gigantic,” he said (the name sounded familiar but, as is often the case, I needed Google to shake loose the context later). And his pride didn’t wane one bit as I hit him with rapid-fire follow-up questions, learning that his son had moved to Boulder, Colorado, to make music, had delivered pizzas to make money when the group was starting out and was now selling an absolutely absurd number of tickets all around the country.
Being awkward as all get-out, of course I didn’t catch his name,
so I’m not sure whether I was talking to the father of Dominic Lalli or of Jeremy Salken [UPDATE: Jeremy Salken tweeted and let me know this was his stepdad! Thank you, Jeremy!]. But the man’s enthusiasm and respect for Big Gigantic’s résumé was so clear and so heart-warming that I couldn’t help being as excited as he was, and I spent the car ride back from the party checking out the group’s recent album, Nocturnal.
It didn’t take long to hear why they’re such a sought-after, party-starting festival-shredding machine. Their danceable, jazz-influenced electronic music embodies both the itch for movement and the scratch that satisfies it, cycling through tension and release in a most pleasing and dramatic way. As tends to happen with any upbeat music, my mind started wandering to all the situations this album would pair with well — running, driving fast, writing late at night — and Nocturnal began to evolve from a set of songs to be enjoyed into a tactical weapon I’m waiting until just the right moment to deploy in full (watch out Monument Avenue, I’m due for a long run any day now, and I will have no mercy on fellow pedestrians while listening to this album).
Above all else, I’ll never forget how I started listening to Big Gigantic. I hope I get another chance to shake the dad’s hand and thank him for illustrating so poignantly that making music is a noble and pride-worthy trade, a reaffirmation that goes a long way toward deepening my commitment to listening. Get your listen on by previewing Nocturnal in its entirety below, and if you dig it, click here to buy it on iTunes.
(Check back for the second head of Saturday’s cuddly musical Cerberus — the Trillions CD release show at Gallery 5.)