For many, New Year’s Eve is all about excess just recall the story that your guy/girl keeps reminiscing about. Boulder, CO’s Big Gigantic were more than content to embrace this culture Saturday evening with a new eye-popping stage set-up and two unmistakable rows of balloons lofted above Chicago’s Riviera Theater. With their new album Nocturnal dropping January 11th, the towers of visuals were an early indication that the entire Big Gigantic production team were working on a new level to usher in, what is promising to be, a very prosperous 2012 for the duo of saxophonist/producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken.
About two hours prior to midnight, Oakland, CA’s Polish Ambassador took the stage dressed in a jumpsuit straight-out of 1987 to warm up the already crowded dance floor. Signed to 1320 Records, the Ambassador (nee: David Sugalski) produced a progressive set of original mixes with the quirky use of classic synths, a wide ranging track selection, and funky break beats. Plus, with an infectious carefree stage presence, booty-popping was guaranteed. The set’s list of samples reads like the playlist from a typical college dance-party, but like a well-dressed Polish sausage, he buried the original track beneath a delicious mound of toppings. Crowd favorites included glitchy re-edits of Major Lazer’s Hold The Line, Dead Prez’ It’s Biger Than Hip-Hop, the indie-favorite Litsztomania, and the original Polish Ambassador hip-hop mashup, Girl Control”. He closed the set reminding everyone to grab most of the cuts from his website for free, but we’ll have to wait a bit for him to upload the unreleased remix of Kelis’ Milkshake.
At 11:30 p.m., Lalli and Sulken emmerged from backstage and appeared atop their respective elaborate lighting rigs. To the delight of longtime fans, the duo opened their night with Wide Awake, and just to ensure the crowd were in fact wide awake, they broke into a remix of the instrumental hook from The Prodigy’s Voodoo People. Four minutes prior to midnight, Big G announced they’d be playing a brand new track to bring in the New Year, then Lalli triggered Kanye West’s Homecoming and commenced an epic sax solo over Sulken’s syncopated percussive beat.
As the clock struck 12 a.m., confetti and balloons rained down upon the crowd as Rise and Shine blared through the Riv’s booming sound system. Big G further tested the system with a series of hip-hop remixes, chopping the vocals and adding some deep bass on Notorius Thugs, then sustaining a long bass tone underneath a nasty remix of Jay-Z’s Dirt Off Your Shoulder, and re-worked Yeezy’s Get Em High with a future bass touch up. The crowd appreciated the uptick in bass intensity and tempo, but by focusing on those characteristics, the tracks lost Lalli’s signature sax solos which is what really sets the duo apart from the growing number of popular glitch/electro-house producers.
After almost two hours of relentless energy, Big G took a brief break before the first of two encores. The first featured a live re-edit of Wiz Khalifa’s Black and Yellow”, which a sweaty Sulken mouthed the entire time, and the second showcased a new track off the forthcoming Nocturnal. Even at 2 a.m. fans were reluctant to leave, hoping the duo would somehow had time for one final jam. When the house lights were finally turned on, smiles were seen across the crowd, and it was obvious, we were the folks that will be talking about our epic NYE night for weeks to come.