Last night’s Big Data show at the Bowery Ballroom was about as good a way to spend a Tuesday night as possible. Big Data, which describes itself as a “paranoid electronic music project from the Internet, formed out of a general distrust for technology and The Cloud,” is one of those acts that you have to see live. Their single, Dangerous, is all over radio stations, TV commercials, and is even in a Will Smith movie trailer for Focus. It’s a good idea to catch this band anywhere right now, but few venues in the city combine the intimate and the epic like the Bowery Ballroom. (Located just north of the lighting district, if you’re ever in need of a chandelier.)
Alan Wilkis, the producer who fronts the band, a la James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem (not a crazy comparison), is a born and raised Upper Westsider, and the music feels like it is of New York, as much as it is also derivative of the omnipresent internet. I was struck by how BIG the sound is, particularly on the live bass, which might be attributed to a bass that is played like guitar.The band is tight and energetic, and the co-lead vocalist, Lindsay Ryan (sp?) is hypnotizing.
New York has always been associated with big sounds., starting with the Harlem Renaissance big band jazz groups led by the likes of Cab Calloway and Chick Webb. Phil Spector reinvented the way music was recorded with his Wall of Sound. Kool Herc turned DJing into an art form, but drew his first crowds because he had the biggest and baddest speakers. The loud rawness of the Ramones sound made them instant underground hits. That feeling comes through at a Big Data show – after each song, during those seconds of respite, you turn to your friends, breathe deep and say “whew!”
The opening acts were excellent as well, which bodes well for the trifecta’s national tour. The first act, Chappo, was a revelation, glam rock updated for the 21st century, complete with confetti and a frontman who oozed charisma. I will definitely be seeing them again. On An On, who followed, were excellent as well, bringing an Arcade Fire-style swagger and spellbinding vocals. I wish I’d had these insights before these bands all hit the road, but they’ll be back playing in NY by mid-May.