Progressive Nation Act II: Bigelf

Second to take the stage was Bigelf. Like Scale the Summit, these guys were unknown to me. I was totally unfamiliar with their music, so I did a quick bit of reading about them ahead of time. I learned that one of their trademarks is use of vintage instruments. So with that, I was delighted to see roadies hauling out some of my favorite machines: a Hammond organ (or reasonable facsimile), a real Mellotron, a Minimoog. The guitarist’s rig included a stack of Orange amplifiers. 


But none of that would have mattered if the music wasn’t good. And indeed it was. Taking cues from a wide variety of legendary acts, Bigelf rocked the stage like it was 1973. And in some ways it was: while I had read that the group’s influences included ELO and Queen, I didn’t hear all that much to support that argument. What I heard were strong echoes of Demons and Wizards era Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath. My friend Jeff pointed out their stylistic similarity to Bloodrock. Good one, Jeff; spot-on. I had half-joked to Jeff that this was one band who had their priorities right: the keyboard player was front and center onstage. (”F**k you,” he good-naturedly replied.)

The band put on a high-energy show that combined the heaviness of early 70s metal (when that term meant something quite different from its current usage) with the irreverent, winking approach of Cheap Trick (or, for you younger readers, Presidents of United States of America). Their songs struck just the right balance of doom, bombast…and fun. While all four members played well, their primary instrumental strength came in the way they played as an ensemble. The dour, humorless approach of so many progsters was totally lacking while Bigelf was onstage.

I look forward to getting and listening to their albums. As happened when I discovered Porcupine Tree a few years back, I’m filled with anticipation to learn that Bigelf have a back catalog; in this case, five albums. Their latest is Cheat the Gallows. Put in simplest terms, if you think Wolfmother is cool, you gotta check these guys out. I bumped into the guys from Bigelf at the bar later in the evening (Dream Theater was giving me a headache; more on that forthwith) and told them, “you guys are fantastic.” Vocalist/keyboardist Damon Fox was quick with his reply: “You’re fantastic.” Well, ok then.