When I bought my first CD player (you know, back in the day), I was seduced by one seemingly trivial function: I could listen to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” again, and again, and again — with minimum effort on my part. It beautifully complemented my perpetual laziness and made me feel like the pudgy Augustus Gloop; but instead of a jumping into a flowing chocolate waterfall, I “plunged” into unlimited runs of my favorite song.
This was okay as long as it was “Barbie Girl,” but I soon got annoyed and bored. Now fast-forward to this exact scenario 10 years later. Instead of a pair of dinky earphones, imagine a wall of huge speakers; instead of a scratched CD, imagine Big Gigantic, a real-life, self-proclaimed (according to their MySpace) “electronica/hardcore/hip-hop” duo.
With Dominic Lalli on production and sax and Jeremy Salken on the drums, Gigantic were, at their best, extremely repetitive. Each of the songs had a slightly differentiated beginning (to fool the audience into believing that it was listening to something new), but within a few seconds would converge toward the same color-by-numbers electronica with a splash of smooth jazz. There were some oscillations in intensity and pace mid-song, but they all ended with an almost identical, unfulfilling climactic surge (read: more loudness!).
“It was like lounge music, but really loud,” I overheard one attendee say. Although lounge music is not Beethoven’s Ninth, it remains within the range of acceptability. Lounge music isn’t that great all by itself — the only time it’s tolerable is in the right context. When played loud enough, an unmemorable sax and repeating melodies make perfectly acceptable coffee-shop music sound terrible. It’s not that Big Gigantic was atrocious, but their constant attempt to put forth each facet of their barely evocative music was exasperating.
With quasi-rapping interludes, a generous number of pauses taken to ask the audience what was up and a few remixes of familiar songs (which basically consisted of pop hits with tons of dubstep/electronica superimposed on them), Big Gigantic failed to incite anything more creative from their audience than a lot of jumping in place.
There were also flashing lights, at least at the beginning, though they got less intense as the concert wore on. But at 4:30 p.m. in late April, it was probably unnecessary. Although New Haven is not Palm Beach, the sun was definitely shining and the sky was relatively free of smog, clouds and arrows (“300,” anyone?), which made the use of spotlights redundant, sad and disturbingly wasteful. Not only did the lights stab the eyes with their brilliant intensity, they made poor Dining Services, with their compostable plates and cups, look like a bunch of ineffectual tree huggers.
The quintessential concert has kick-ass lights, sick music and zing performers. The act failed in all three respects, leaving the crowd exasperated and sore from too much jumping. Big Gigantic tried to compensate for their tiny artistic vision with grandiose flourishes; ultimately, they sounded more repetitive than that video of the Moldovan Sax Guy.