BY MITCHELL HERRMANN For the Sun-Times
The saxophone is an instrument not commonly seen at Lollapalooza, especially among the DJs and producers performing at Perry’s Stage. Big Gigantic distinguished themselves by adding an unconventional twist to their dubstep influenced electronic music — live saxophone and drums.
Producer and saxophonist Dominic Lalli swayed and shook like a 1950s jazz musician, while drummer Jeremy Salken added cymbal patterns and tom fills over thunderous synthesized basslines. The group acknowledged their locationl by performing a “Chi-City” tribute track, newly created for their set at Perry’s.
At their best, Big Gigantic deftly combined funky riffs with dance music influences to create a feeling of both spontaneous improvisation and raw electronic power. Sometimes, though, the juxtaposition of musical elements came across as forced rather than clever, as when they ventured into the distorted sound of modern dubstep; this usually ended up sounding something like Skrillex and a jazz trio both trying to play over each other at once.
Kaskade‘s Sunday night headlining set was a fitting and satisfying conclusion to three days of electronic music at Perry’s Stage. Having played twice before at Lollapalooza, back when Perry’s was mostly ignored and dance music merely a sideshow, the Progressive House DJ has witnessed the evolution of the Stage and the emergence of electronic music into the mainstream.
Kaskade added his own bells and whistles to Perry’s Stage, augmenting the improved light display with his own multicolored lasers, balloons, and synced video. Extended build ups featuring atmospheric vocals and searing synth melodies led to pulsing basslines over thumping drum
“I grew up just down the street. I used to skateboard right here,” the Evanston-born DJ told the crowd, pointing to the skate park behind the stage. His set was a triumphant return to Lollapalooza- he last played at the fest two years ago- and proof of the profound transformation his genre of music has undergone.