On Thursday night, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was packed. Headliner Louis the Child would not appear for another two hours, and yet the pit was already crowded with people pushing and elbowing their way to the front. An audience of EDM fans was eagerly waiting to see not one but two artists that night: not only Louis the Child but also the final opener of the night, Big Wild.
Jackson Stell, the EDM artist better known by his stage name Big Wild, had quickly risen to popularity over the last few years, making waves in the EDM community. With tracks incorporating unique indie and hip-hop beats with extensive melodies, Big Wild has broached nearly every genre. Throughout the evening’s set, Big Wild alternated through a variety of songs from his brief but mesmerizing discography. The set list ranged from older hits such as “When I Get There” from the 2017 Invincible EP to a showcase of his newer singles from his unreleased album, Superdream, which will be debuting in February 2019. With his genre-fusing performance at Bill Graham, Big Wild cemented his status as a force to watch for in the EDM community.
While his older tracks tended to integrate hip-hop rhythm into more traditional EDM sounds, his newer hits took influence from other more eclectic styles of music. For example, his newest single “Maker” steers away from the strong beats in favor of ethereal vocals and retro synths, giving it a distinct ‘80s sound. Constantly keeping the set’s rhythms varied in style and tempo, Big Wild intermingled his own songs with bass-heavy remixes of other artists that were sure to keep the audience jumping.
Throughout his set, Big Wild’s sound constantly transformed and, likewise, so did his visuals. His performance opened with a backdrop of a stunning desert landscape, and natural imagery continued to illuminate the visual atmosphere of the show for the rest of the night. The only visuals more striking than the vibrant shots of nature were displays of shockingly bright yellow, red and green, The colors were so vibrant, it seemed as if the music itself sounded brighter.
And of course, while Big Wild was playing some of his more popular covers, such as “Say My Name,” a collaboration remix with his mentor ODESZA, the visuals defaulted to a stunning light show of multicolored lasers and strobes dancing across the auditorium. Occasionally, Big Wild would perform songs with the visual aid of an enormous disco ball fashioned to the ceiling, which reflected different colors of lights across the room and onto the audience.
Ultimately, the one element that defined Big Wild’s set that night was its variety. No two songs felt or sounded the same, and all of them were expertly remixed so as to have the crowd jumping and dancing for the entire duration of the performance. Similarly, the visuals were so colorful and vibrant that the audience was constantly stimulated. The excess of lights and sounds was both exhausting and invigorating, and there never seemed to be a moment of stillness. In a genre of music that favors wild beats and strobe lights, Big Wild served as a role model for what a good EDM concert promises to provide. There was always more to see and hear.
At points, it felt like the audience would be dancing all night to Big Wild’s extensive rhythms, until they heard the light, melodic bells that introduce Big Wild’s closing song. “Aftergold,” featuring Tove Styrke’s uplifting vocals and an interlude of whimsical beats, was the perfect closer to a set that had left the audience in a sensory overload. Ears ringing and eyes glazed, the 20-minute break before headliner Louis the Child appeared served as a much-needed recovery period from the explosion of lights and sound that had been Big WIld. The amalgamation of sounds and visuals presented throughout the night provided a unique spin on a classic sound and served as an intriguing teaser for Big Wild’s upcoming album.
At the end of the day, Big Wild’s penchant for pushing the boundaries of EDM music makes him an artist to watch out for — keeping casual listeners and die-hard fans alike excited for his next steps.
Contact Rhea Srivats at [email protected].