BIG What? BIG What! Big Something!

For the fourth time, Big Something has decided to invite friends over for a cookout and some music. A lot of friends. A big cookout. And a huge bunch of musical friends dropping by.

This is an amazing accomplishment for a band that only just celebrated its fifth anniversary on May 29th. Very impressive indeed. We’re now three weeks out from the BIG What?, the festival hosted by the Burlington sextet Thursday, June 25th, through Saturday, June 27th. Festival grounds are in Mebane, between Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro. There is an excellent Festival 411 that you should read carefully so that you are fully informed.

At some festivals, there are so many bands your head just explodes trying to determine the bands you won’t be able to see and hear. The BIG What? has a very manageable 27 bands performing, so you don’t have to miss this one to hear that one.

North Carolina’s amazing musical talent is well represented here. Two thirds of the performers are NC-based, and half of those are from the Raleigh / Greensboro / Winston-Salem area. Festival-goers from out of the area are in for a real treat.

The hosts play all three nights. Vulfpeck, the Ann Arbor band whose song 1612 has made a big splash on SiriusXM, headline on Friday night. Kung Fu plays Saturday night; their recent roster change to Beau Sasser on keyboards won’t slow them down one iota. And The Mantras are featured Thursday night.

The BIG What? offers a wide, wide variety of styles, with something for everyone. Many of the groups on the scene that fall under the ‘jam’ category can do just about anything; Big Something is a perfect example. It’s impossible to ‘pigeon-hole’ anybody.

Not even Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The Baltimore quartet is returning the favor, since Big Something just graced their Domefest stage, as did several other BIG What? bands. PPPP just wants to “F U… N K!” But of course they rock out, too.

Speaking of labels, try sorting out bluegrass, newgrass, funkgrass and slamgrass. Thank heavens it doesn’t matter. Cabinet (from PA) slams, Dr. Bacon funks, and Barefoot Manner delivers soul-shaking funky newgrass. And it’s all great.

There’s a style now referred to as Appalachian rock, incorporating roots and Americana music, Appalachian-style. Big Daddy Love will show everyone how it’s done. Urban Soil (Raleigh) makes “sweet Americana jam.” And South Carolina’s Dangermuffin will have your head spinning with their version of Americana folk jam.

Let’s say, just for the sake of the argument, that you’d like to funk your brains out. That can happen! The Fritz, out of Asheville, has been blowing minds at festivals and shows up and down the eastern U.S. If you’re looking for some horns to go with that blistering guitar, you might need a dose of Fat Cheek Kat. Killer female vocals? doby from Greensboro can hook you up. And the Chit Nasty Band will flat take you to church. So you’re covered in funk.

A bit of jamtronica / electronica never hurt anybody, either. Imperial Blend and Cleveland’s Broccoli Samurai, both recent performers at Domefest, have just what you need. Electronic Soul Pandemic’s high-energy rock is electronica-infused for your enjoyment.

Also in the vicinity are funky psychedelic rockers such as Psylo Joe, another Greensboro invader, Wilmington’s Dubtown Cosmonauts, and “belligerent jungle funk” courtesy of Opposite Box out of Chattanooga. Please check your seatbelt first!

Boston’s Spiritual Rez lists reggae first on their resume, but they are a very funky dance band. Meanwhile, if you dig that twin guitar lead rock, check out Mac & Juice Quartet, another Wilmington product. You can make reasonable assumptions about Groove Fetish from their name, and The Trongone Band from Richmond is a family affair, with dad on bass and two sons in the quintet delivering their blend of Southern rock.

For something completely different, looper Barefoot Wade calls himself a “multi-instrumentalist genre-defying nutjob.” Let’s go with that. And The Family rounds out the bill.

This is going to be epic! Most bands in existence for five years are still feeling their way around, not hosting a festival – for the fourth time!

In addition to the music, a dozen artists will be painting and creating in the Big Art Tent.

Food, bagged ice and water will be available for sale on site. There is no alcohol sold on site. There is also no ATM on the festival grounds; be sure to come prepared. There is a great and helpful Festival 411 guide on the website.

There is more to enhance your experience than just music. At the top of the list: Outdoor showers! There is an 18-hole disc golf course, and arts and crafts vendors will have their wares for sale. The Homegrown Music Network Artist Merchandise tent will be a beehive of activity as well.

Fire performers, visuals, and a light show will also light up the night; please DO NOT bring fireworks of any kind!

Finally, there will be contests, theme nights, and “an abundance of other nonsense and surprises. Decorations, costumes and things that GLOW are highly encouraged!”

Start packing, boys and girls! It’s going to be a blast!


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