Producer/mixologist Gramatik and ghettotechnician Minnesota are coming to Chicago's Riviera Theater February 23 for a bass heavy show. Since being signed to Pretty Lights Music, Gramatik has received wide spread recognition across the US for his soulful, hip-hop fueled beats, as well as his use of a live guitarist - allowing him to mix live instrumentals and create loops on the fly. In support is DJ Minnesota (who is sure to keep the floor shakin') and Manic Focus.
It's been a little over a week since Big Gigantic ushered fans into 2013 at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom, and I'm still coming to terms with the enormity of the evening. Nearly 100 years old, the Aragon is a Chicago landmark, boasting a spacious dance floor with surrounding balconys... and that ceiling... With images of distant nebulas and stars that literally twinkle (I swear I wasn't seeing things), the ceiling is nothing short of magical. Coming off a successful NYE run last year at the Riviera Theater, Big Gigantic couldn't have chosen a better venue for this year's New Year's bash.
Manic Focus began the night about nine, as people made their way into the ballroom, priming the crowd for Griz and ultimately Big G. We admittedly arrived shortly after ten - you try getting a dozen liquored up fools to show up somewhere on time - as Griz took the stage. The Detroit native is outa control... and I hesitate to define him with a single genre... but he's definitely a funky, soulful, electro dude (possibly from the future) who's hell bent on breakin' ya neck (download his album Mad Liberation for $Free.99 from his website mynameisgriz.com and you'll see what I mean). In addition to his own productions, Griz dabbles with the likes of Damian Marley, Two Fresh, Kanye, and Aerosmith in his collection of dub injected remixes. His set highlighted many tracks off his album Mad Liberation, including "Better Than I've Ever Been", "Smash The Funk", and "The Future Is Now." And for any Grizmatik fans out there, dropping "Digital Liberation is Mad Freedom" really took me back to their North Coast after show at Chicago's House of Blues. A moment that also hit hard was a mix of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" with Griz's remix of Two Fresh's "Du Du Doo." Needless to say, Griz was excellent - I mean, he could have taken the show to another level, but as expected with any opener, they can't go harder than the headliner. This was more than evident as Griz closed his set with a snippet of a trapped out jam that left us all wanting more. But it was time for Big G to hit the stage and reveal their new production set to be used for the rest of their winter tour.
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Griz & Big Gigantic Live @ Aragon Ballroom
It was right about eleven when the lights dimmed and the stage illuminated. "WE LOVE YOU, CHICAGO... LET'S DO THIS THING!" Big G's Dom yelled as we threw our hands up, and just like that we were in it... An hour to go 'till midnight, immersed in a hot mess of hipsters, rave squirrels, and bass heads - and we were all in it together. You make friends easily at shows like these, and the strangers around you quickly become good friends within a matter of seconds. Smoke swirled towards outer space, blinding lights shot through the backs of our eyes, and some 15 to 17 displays (it was a long night) rocketed visuals from behind, in front of, and above Big G. Kicking things off with their classic "Wide Awake", Big Gigantic played many of their hits ("Polarize", "High Life", "Get 'em High (Remix)", "Let's Go", "It's Goin Down") but didn't hesitate to throw in a wide variety of headnodic tunes to keep everyone engaged and bangin'. "I Need A Dollar", "Notorious Thugs", "Dirt Off Your Shoulder", and "Hard in Da Paint" all complimented Big G's setlist, not to mention a very on point drop of Knife Party's "Bonfire." And of course, with Griz in the building, he came out to join Big G for their cooperative joint "Power" (you can cop it from either artist's SoundCloud). Luckily someone was paying attention to what time it was, as we heard "Here we go, y'all count with me okay?... 10...9..." The stage was almost too bright to see, as confetti shot out into the crowd and balloons endlessly dropped from the ceiling. The lovers loved.. brothers hugged.. and there were more high fives than you can shake a stick at. Everything was everything... And just like that it was 2013.
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Countdown to Midnight 2013
Its something special - having so many like minded people under one roof, under one spell that is the music. We didn't want it to end. But you know how it is. Big G wrapped things up about a quarter to two, as we - the wide eyed, sweaty, confetti riddled youth - filed out to the streets. It was cold... damn cold. Our ears rang as we shivered our way to the after party. But all I could think about was how I can't be the only one who hopes Big Gigantic makes Chicago its annual home for New Years Eve.