The Big Up 2011: Day Three

Words & Photos By Jon Irvin

Day three started just like the day before, a dewy tent and dubstep blasting as far as the ear could hear.  For some reason I was unusually hungry, so I took off for one of those massive breakfast burritos. Man this thing was so huge I had trouble finishing it, but the breakfast served its purpose, curbing my appetite for most of the day. As I walked back to camp, I ran into one of the creepiest objects I have ever seen. I’ll let the picture above speak for itself, but all I can say is someone has a wild imagination with too much free time.
The day’s music for us started a little early. I was in the mood for something different than the untz that had still been reverberating through me from the night before. The weekend’s reggae slot would be filled by Dr. Jah & the Love Prophets. I dug their song “Ridin’ to Zion” but was barely enthused by much else. I say bring back Roots of Creation for year three. After Dr. Jah had fulfilled his hour in the sun, it was time to lay back and explore with Consider the Source. Consider the Source is a crazy Middle-Eastern experimental rock band, heavy on the bass and extreme double-neck shreddage. Their sound is as if Rage Against the Machine and Ravi Shankar sat down to make the soundtrack to the next Stanley Kubrick classic. An early afternoon time slot did little justice for attendance, an evening set was surely deserved. The day was getting hot and so was the music. Next band on my list Kung Fu was sure to throw fuel to the fire.
Kung Fu is ‘Stoopendous’. Sorry weak attempt, I know. Made up by Tim Palmieri (guitar), Todd Stoops (keys), Dave Livolsi (bass), Rob Somerville (sax), and Adrian Tramantono (drums), Kung Fu takes jazz to the outer limits. If you’re familiar with any associated acts including The Breakfast, RAQ, Jazz is Dead, and Deep Bannana Blackout, you would know that Kung Fu was bound to get down.  It’s fun to watch Palmieri and Stoops try and out do each other time and time again, their dueling solos complemented by Somerville and his brass.  The set was highlighted by “Junoon”, a track Stoops described to the crowd as “urdu for madness and obsession.” Mad indeed was the song, a trippy psychedelic sax voyage that reminded me of material by fellow jazz band Garage A Trois.  Kung Fu is just getting warmed up, and I expect them to be a force for the foreseeable future.

Kung Fu Live at BIG UP Festival Main Stage, Sunnyview Farms on July 30, 2011.

Before Higher Organix went onstage, I had to make a quick stop to the beer tent and try the limited edition HONix IPA by local Chatham Brewery. I’m not a total beer snob, but given the choice between a Bud Light and a microbrew, I’ll choose the more expensive, BETTER beer every time. After missing their first two sets, I couldn’t miss the host band Higher Organix’s final show of the weekend. Higher Organix puts a different show on every time. Not different set lists... I’m talking never played before. Higher Organix is an improv jam band so everything is off the cuff. Since they blend several genres in a single jam, you never know where Higher Organix is going to take you musically. The power trio rocked one jam into the next for the entire high-energy set. I disappointed that I missed their first two sets after what I heard Saturday afternoon, and they’re certainly another band that I wish would venture out of their New England bubble. Time for a quick break at camp before RAQ would be playing their last show for the near future.
Before going on hiatus to concentrate on new ventures, RAQ gave fans one last party. Performing cult hits like “Brother from Another Mother” and “Circumstance”, both with a touch of Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, the 75-minute set was filled with some of the best guitar playing of the weekend. Chris Michetti, now concentrating on Conspirator with Disco Biscuits’ Mark Brownstein, clearly put his skills on showcase. Fans are hoping RAQ’s hiatus doesn’t last long, but with side projects Kung Fu & Conspirator going strong, who knows how long we will have to wait for them to grace the stage once again. Dopapod was next, shutting down the side stage. Dopapod is yet another trippy jazz-based psychedelic jam band, heavy on the keys and guitar solos. Their quick hour-long set came to an epic conclusion with a spot on cover of Tool’s “Lateralus”. My night could have ended after that song and I wouldn’t have been disappointed. Luckily for me, Saturday s headliner, EOTO, would be the icing on my Big Up cake.
Raq Live at BIG UP Festival (main stage), Sunnyview Farms on July 30, 2011.


EOTO is the electronic brainchild of Michael Travis & Jason Hahn, the percussion duo behind The String Cheese Incident. The largest crowd of the weekend was treated to a closing set filled with looped madness. You never know where EOTO will take you. One minute you’re tranced in dubstep, the next you’re rapping along to 50 Cent’s “Just A Little Bit” and saying “No No No to Rehab” along with Amy Winehouse. It was the perfect ending to a great festival.
After I swallowed the EOTO pill, I had finally OD’d on dubstep. My mind and body was filled with music I soon won’t forget. The Big Up shook all doubts of a possible sophomore slump. For such a new festival, the Big Up has done an amazing job at giving the fans what they want: music, music, and more music! I want to thank Franesa and the team over at Shireworks Productions for all their hospitality, and I’m very much looking forward to The Big Up in 2012!!!

Jon’s Photo Gallery


  1. Curious about the wicked late-night sax/drums duo that spun you out with their raw sound? Sistine Criminals!!! Check it out!

  2. Curious about the wicked late-night sax/drums duo that spun you out with their raw sound? Sistine Criminals!!! Check it out!


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