Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Up to something ‘big’: NC sextet has found a home at GLA

Big Something returns to Wilmington’s Greenfield Lake Amphitheater to play show number sweet 16 on Saturday, with openers Krispee Biscuits and Susto. (MoonFrog Media/Tom Dorgan for PCD)

WILMINGTON — Sweet 16: That is what it will be Saturday night when Big Something takes the stage at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.

READ MORE: In photos: Big Something at GLA

With 16 top-billed performances, Big Something has headlined the venue more than any other band in its storied history. 

“Wilmington always brings the best energy for us and that brings out the best in our music,” lead vocalist, guitarist and mandolin player Nick MacDaniels said in an interview this week.

Also consisting of Ben Vinograd on drums, Casey Cranford on saxophone and electric wind instrument, Matt Laird on bass, Jesse Hensley on lead guitar and vocals and Ross Bogan and Julian Sizemore on keyboards, the sextet is currently touring in support of its seventh studio album, “Headspace.”

Originally from Burlington, North Carolina, Big Something fuses elements of original rock ‘n’ roll, funk, bluegrass, EDM, jazz and hip-hop — so varied at times it’s hard to believe the same group makes all the songs in its catalog. Its diversity of styles begets the name Big Something, a moniker that alludes to the universe and themes of outer space and science fiction, deeply rooted in the band’s ethos.

“Headspace,” which came out late last year, shifts focus from outer to inner space, from cosmic mind travels to mental health. It moves seamlessly through various genres, combining smart and heady lyrics, great special guests (Andy Frasco, Josh Phillips and Justin Osborne), and lays down one of the finest David Bowie covers, “Moonage Daydream.”

The record has been the band’s most successful yet in terms of spins on Spotify Big Something garners around 37,000 monthly listeners — and other streaming services. To support “Headspace,” Big Something embarked on their most ambitious tour in its 15-year career, tackling 60 shows in 35 states over three months. From Oregon to New Hampshire, Big Something delivered the gospel of the EWI — a saxophone played through a synthesizer — to both new and tested markets.

“It was the best national tour we’ve ever had,” McDaniels said. “It’s just really exciting for us to feel the potential of how this project can grow from here.”

Big Something has undergone some changes in the last two years, with bass player Matt Laird replacing Doug Marshall and Ross Bogan and Julian Sizemore alternating duties on keyboards, replacing founding member Josh Keigel. MacDaniels said the new lineup has taken the band into unexplored territory.

“Matt is an encyclopedia of music and a ball of energy on stage,” MacDaniels said. “He’s upped the band’s skills improvisationally and really moved us into the future. We’ve also been fortunate to have two amazing keyboard players join us.”

He added Bogan and Sizemore have worked with the team previously as well.

“And using Josh’s exact keyboards to make sure our core sound stays intact while still letting their personalities shine,” MacDaniels said. “It’s been really fun opening up our catalog with them.”

In many ways, Wilmington is like a second home for Big Something. They’ve made deep connections with fans in the Port City over the years — starting out at the now-defunct Whiskey on Front Street and working their way up to headlining Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.  

“I still remember how cool it was when we got invited to open for Galactic for our first time at Greenfield Lake more than 10 years ago,” MacDaniels recalled. “To go from that moment to where we are now headlining our own shows here just makes us all feel really grateful.”

The band performs Saturday, July 13, with Susto and the Krispee Biscuits opening. Tickets are available here.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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