By Quentin Young
Even with Big Gigantic, it’s the little things that count.
The huge-sounding, live-electronic duo is about to go on for two nights at Red Rocks for its fourth annual Rowdytown set of shows, which are massive parties with special guests, an eye-popping light show and a pimped-out stage.
It takes a lot of work to pull it off. And BG’s Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken have a hand in every detail.
“We were literally picking out the menu for the caterer,” Salken said during an interview he and Lalli gave recently.
You get the idea the two could have second careers in wedding planning when you hear them tick off the tasks they attend to for this show — access laminates, stage design, guest list spreadsheets. They do hire people for this stuff, but they have too much of a if-you-want-it-done-right attitude to sit in the wings, so they end up doing a lot themselves.
“We kind of treat it like we’re putting on a festival,” Salken said. “With every detail, we try to make it the best experience.”
Lalli, who plays sax and does production, and Salken, on drums, spend their summers performing at some of the top festivals in the country, from the Governors Ball in New York City to Electric Forest in Michigan. But the annual throwdown called Rowdytown is the big one for this Boulder act. It goes Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26. Saturday is sold out, and ticket sales are stronger than in any previous year, the band says.
The shows feature a new stage set and improved projection-mapping visuals on the amphitheater’s rock walls, Lalli said. He kept silent on details, wanting fans to be surprised, but here’s what we do know: The lineup also includes Thomas Jack, Jauz and DeFunk on Friday and RL Grime, Snails and Two Fresh on Saturday.
The event also features the Blue Dream Experience, a VIP package that includes a pair of tickets, travel money and a tour of a Colorado grow house and dispensary.
Lalli breaks it down: “It’s just a smoke out. If you win, you get to smoke weed with us.”
But through the haze, the winner must focus on one task: helping Big Gigantic decide on its own strain of weed, which is planned to debut in 2016.
BG is a longtime friend of Rhett Jordan, owner of Colorado dispensary chain Native Roots, and they’ve been working with him on creating a strain for years, said Lalli, who identifies as “a sativa guy.”
The band offered the Blue Dream Experience last year, and it was an uplifting twist on an old idea.
“It was fun to do a meet-and-greet in a different way,” Lalli said.
The band released its previous album, The Night is Young,” in 2014, and has since put out the lower-limb-moving single “Get on Up” and an aggressively funky collaboration with fellow Boulder electronic musician GRiZ called “Good Times Roll.” (Besides a common hometown, BG and GRiZ share the unlikely feature of live sax.)
Humongous shifts in industry norms might be undermining the album-making landscape, giving ground to singles and other means of music release, but the essential role of the album remains in place, Lalli said.
“An album is like a greater piece of artwork,” he said, “so there’s always going to be an importance in that.”
Big Gigantic plans to take much of the rest of the year after Rowdytown to work on a new album. It will have an “amazing concept,” Lalli said, and he left it at that. It will be a another surprise, but the band will give some of the new material a workout during Rowdytown.
With Rowdytown and the new album, Big Gigantic has a million things to think about. A band motto is “no days off.” If they’d just let their staff handle more of the workload, maybe they’d have some free time. But they’ve found it pays for them to go big on band business.
As Salken put it, “I think that’s why we’ve found some of the success we have.”
Quentin Young: firstname.lastname@example.org and @qpyoungnews
If you go
What: Big Gigantic’s Rowdytown 4
When: Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26
Where: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison