BIG Something Show Review

Sycamore Deli, Blacksburg, VA

October 8th, 2015

written by Jonny Walker

photos by Roger Gupta

On a cool, October night back in the Southwestern corner of Virginia a presence of excitement was stirring in the air. A wild Thursday night in Blacksburg (a place often referred to as a drinking town with a football problem) usually means that there is a home game for the Hokies. Although the home game was bumped up to Friday this week, something else was the cause for excitement; something groovy; something loud; something…big.

“What would this particular something be?” you might ask. Big Something of course. As I walk down the stairs to the entrance of Sycamore Deli, the most happening place for live music in Blacksburg, I begin to run into the band members one by one and I remember why I love these guys so much. Every time I see them it’s as if we were old friends catching up on the good ol’ days. The last time I saw these guys perform I was raging in the front row of Martin’s Block Party with those three wild men that make up People’s Blues of Richmond. The time before that I was climbing on security gates at Camp Barefoot, again raging, and again with Tim, Neko, and Matt of PBR. You may notice a trend here, but it is one that I am quite alright with.

About this time a close friend of mine who was unable to attend the last two Big Something shows with me walks in looking better than a tall glass of water on a hot day in the middle of the Mojave Dessert. We exchanged hugs and hellos and I took her to meet Nick, the lead singer of Big Something, who is standing alone in front of the TV watching the football game whilst tuning his mandolin. We take a brief moment to discuss our fantasy teams, fill my friend in on the shenanigans that have taken place the last few shows she has missed, and Nick tells us that he has to go make the set list. He quickly turns back and asks, “Any requests?” With eyes wide and a smile on my face I respond “If you could play anything by the artist formerly known as, currently is, or might be Prince that would be just great.”

If you’ve never seen Big Something you will quickly learn that as hard as they jam out to their original songs they play some of the best covers I’ve ever heard. They open their set with a rendition of Salute by Lettuce as a musical warning to the audience that it’s about to get super funky all night long. A few songs later and we hop on board with Captain D which is so fond to me because the lyrics are so wonderfully illustrated on the back of my favorite Big Something shirt which mimics the back of the Truth Serum album cover. With mandolin in hand playing Graham County Courthouse, a song that anybody who has ever sat in a courtroom before can appreciate, Nick begins jumping up and down while pointing at me as the end of the song approaches. Thinking we were just sharing in the excitement I jump and point back emphatically. Little did I know that it was time to party like it was 1999. With the nostalgia of Prince still lingering in my mind we take a trip cross-country in Pinky’s Ride with some Blue Dream, which Nick alerts the crowd “is a song about marijuana… in case you didn’t know.”

During the set break my friend asks me, “What is that instrument the saxophone player keeps playing.” I sarcastically respond, “A saxophone.” With a smirk on her face she says “No. The other one smartass.” I honestly have no idea what this instrument is called but it generates one of the coolest, futuristic sounds I’ve ever heard so I tell her “It’s a space saxophone. They got abducted by a UFO one time and he (Casey “The Saxiest Man Alive” Cranford ) stole it during their escape.” With a smirk that turned to a smile, we head back in for the second set and decide to watch this one from the side of the stage. The beautiful part about a show at Sycamore Deli is that it is such a small and intimate venue that you can feel the energy just as well being feet away from the performers as you can at the back of the crowd.

Opening with a killer cover of Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond they continue to do a spectacular job of playing songs from their entire canon for their true fans that have listened to all of their music. From Love Generator and The Curse of Julia Brown they make an entire crowd of people go crazy and yell out “WOO HOO!!!” at the top of our lungs with a cover of Song 2 by Blur. While playing their song UFO’s are Real I nudge my friend and whisper in her ear, “I told you he stole it from a spaceship.” After Megalodon and a Naive Melody paying homage to the Talking Heads they finish up with My Volcano…another marijuana reference in case you didn’t know.  However, no Big Something show is really over until they make you rage through one final cover. What better way to rage than to Rage Against the Machine and Wake Up. With a head banging explosion of sound they play us out and the audience goes wild to give our thanks for one hell of a night.

After saying my goodbyes to the fellas, my friend and I head out to catch a ride home and smiling from ear to ear she tells me “I absolutely loved that show.” Now, I’ve never told her this and I don’t think she ever reads my articles so I’m going to take this moment to make a musical confession. I fell in love with this girl from the moment I met her. From the time that we sat up till sunrise listening to Big Something, to the time I took her to Floydfest for her first festival ever, to tonight when I got to take her to see one of my favorite bands play that love only grew stronger. She may never feel the same way but I’ve been able to see her love for good music, live music, real music grow with every encounter we have. That alone is enough to make my heart smile something awful big. Hopefully the next time I see Big Something she’ll be beside me again, smiling just as big.