Big Something brings jam band goodness to St. Louis

North Carolina-based improvisational rock band Big Something came roaring into St Louis on April 18th and I could not have been more excited. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to help run sound for The Big What? — Big Something’s self-produced jam band festival thrown in the North Carolina hills. When I first learned about this band back then, honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but I had a blast working the festival and really started to get into this particular sound. Not only did Big Something have an incredibly exciting live show, but their soulful, charming lyrics and countless musical styles blended together into an impressive creation that left me intoxicated. From towering guitar solos to strong and precise drumming, all the way to my first experience hearing an EWI (or Electronic Wind Instrument, which undoubtedly leaves a mark on each song and, in turn, on each show), it left me craving that feeling again, that vibe, that experience of just getting so lost in the music it takes you to another dimension.

Off Broadway in South City was the venue for this epic jam session and, if you weren’t lucky enough to be there, let me tell you about it.

This was my first time seeing a band perform at Off Broadway in St Louis. It’s about five or so minutes away from the Budweiser Brewery, whose castle-like, fortress style walls make for a pretty cool backdrop as you drive up to the venue. After knocking back a cold one on the outdoor patio, I headed into the fairly intimate venue space. Even with an upstairs balcony, the space felt small, but in a way that made you excited to be that close to the band, versus disappointed. Really, the bathrooms were the only place where you couldn’t see the show. The private atmosphere of the venue only heightened the excitement of seeing a band that has played in front of thousands at renowned festivals like Lock’n, Electric Forest, and Sweetwater 420 Fest.

Opening the show were the Ries Brothers (pronounced “Rees”) — a dynamic musical duo hailing from the gulf coast of Florida. These two virtuosos put on a clinic when it comes to maximum effort with minimal resources. Between the two of them, they were putting in the work of, like, six other musicians. Charlie, the elder of the two, showed off powerfully soulful vocals while simultaneously operating the entire rhythm section by himself: playing drums with his right hand and keyboard bass with his left. An impressive skill that I can’t even begin to comprehend. Not to be outdone, of course, was younger brother Kevin Jordan, who matched Charlie brilliantly with his righteous guitar solos (some utilizing a beer mug-style baseball bat), electric ukulele skills, and melodica mastery, which added layer upon layer of auditory inventiveness and original harmonies. They showed off how deep their inspirations go by dipping into the realms of reggae, rock, alternative, funk, and soul — all of which fit in perfectly with the vibe of a Big Something project.

Headlining was, of course, Big Something.

Making their way around the country on the Headspace Tour, the band is promoting their awesome new album of the same name. Hailing from “the middle of nowhere N.C.” (their words, not mine), this band is one of the more inventive and exciting bands to venture out of the Southeast that I’ve heard in a while. A band that has progressed over 10-plus years into being one of the staples at summer festivals around the country, Big Something has steadily built themselves up into a six-headed beast that expertly shows off how they infuse multiple elements into one common entity. This night took me right back to that weekend in the woods in the summer of 2018, with endless jams and positive experiences. It was a night full of emphatic dancing, pure joy, and even guest appearances, with sax player Ernie Chang from Andy Frasco and The U.N. joining the party for a little bit.

The energy that this band produces is fierce and the way they are able to translate that energy to the crowd is a special thing to witness. Jesse Hensley kills it on the guitar and Casey Cranford showing off his woodwind expertise was just the cap the night needed. It felt like everyone’s own private dance party with how intimate Off Broadway is. This was a show I had been waiting to see for six years and it was absolutely worth the wait.

If you haven’t heard Big Something’s new album Headspace, it’s streaming everywhere now and the Headspace Tour featuring Big Something and the Ries Brothers continues through the middle of May, so if you still need to pick up your tickets, do it now before they are gone!

Photography by Thomas Semonco

Share this article


Become a Patron

Tour dates for big something

Get music updates in your inbox

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments