By Robert Goldberg | May 20, 2024
📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis

From uncharted backroads to the urban pulse of NYC, there’s nothing quite like multi-genre rock bands from the south bringing new sounds to the ole’ Brooklyn homestead to charge up the northern herd. Friday nights during the spring at Brooklyn Made just hit different. Fans came from all over to groove to the six-headed jam beast from North Carolina, Big Something, as they neared the end of their unbelievable 60 show tour with The Reis Brothers. The Headspace Tour, promoting their latest album Headspace, has been going on since December and has featured a musically cataclysmic reawakening of exploration that dives into untouched genres and shifts focus from outer space to inner space, touching on topics like mental health and more. 

The Ries Brother kicked things off, and these guys truly set the stage ablaze. Hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida, the dynamic duo, consisting of Charlie and Kevin Jordan Ries, combine forces to fuse rock, jam, reggae, and soul into their own distinct sound. We were blown away by the diversity of their musicianship, with Charlie playing drums, bass keys, and singing all at the same time and Kevin Jordan on the electric guitar, electric ukulele, and melodica throughout their set. The brothers kicked things off with some super spacey psychedelic jams which snowballed quickly into garage rock and guitar solos. They invited their long time friend, Jeremy Prince, to the stage, where he took to the keys and saxophone. 

After Kevin downed a whiskey shot off a baseball bat, he continued to mystify the crowd as he stood on platforms and speakers at the end of the stage, scorching our ears with progressive rock riffs. Deeper into the set, they busted out a plethora of covers including “Clint Eastwood” by The Gorillaz and “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, with a saucy melodica solo by Kevin Jordan. Our favorite cover the Ries Brothers rocked was a raunchy “Bright Lights” by their good friend Gary Clark Jr., whose drummer was instrumental in helping the creation of their 2022 EP The Reis Brothers. Chaos continued towards the end of their act as the theatrics continued, with Kevin going full Wild Thornberry, taking his shirt off and breaking out the electric ukulele for an unreal solo. For their last trick, Charlie brought out glowing drum sticks for the whole squad as they ended their performance with all musicians playing the drums at the same time, or as we like to call it, drum galaxy.

After having our minds launched into a realm of melted barriers between reality and imagination, we were ready to get back into our ‘Headspace’ with Big Something. These jam juggernauts wasted no time showcasing their musical talent, starting off their first set with “Waves,” a synth space jam with teases of headbanging hard rock. What sets Big Something apart from other jam and rock bands is their ability to layer so many different sounds into a cohesive song through their diversity of instruments. Almost all ensemble members are multi-instrumentalists: Ben Vinograd on drums, Casey Cranford on the saxophone and EWI (Electric Wind Instrument), Matt Laird on bass, Jesse Hensley on lead guitar and vocals, Josh Kagel on keys and trumpet, and Nick MacDaniels on guitar and lead vocals making for endless possibilities in their shows. They continued the first set with “Clouds,” and we soon realized that lead singer Nick was playing a right-handed guitar left-handed, essentially flipping the fretboard over and playing upside down, just like how Hendrix used to play. Other notable tracks included a more mellow original, “Wildfire” and the title track of their new album, Headspace, which touched upon struggles with mental health: 

Been thinking bout the walls in my head
Are they keeping you out or are they keeping me in?
Oh I’ve been trying to see straight
But now see my lenses are fogged
Another day I’m lost in my mind
Trying to see through the walls
Through the walls

Bringing the message of normalizing the struggle of mental clarity into their music was super refreshing to witness. The band kept the same theme of humanity to end their first set with a heavy metal banger, “Them Bones” by Alice In Chains. 

The group began their second set with another more lyrical and uplifting tune, “The Mountain,” which ended in a massive solo from Jesse that lifted us into another dimension. “Timebomb” was up next and quickly became our favorite track of the night with funky rifts, sweet saxophone melodies, jiving basslines, and an all out dance party. The remainder of the second set included ska influenced beach tracks like “Capt. D” and a reggae jam fiesta, “Bob and Weave,” encapsulating what felt like a stoner’s paradise:

Thank you for smoking your hash with me
Bob and weave
Thank you for smoking your hash with me
Bob and weave (I feel much better now)
Thank you for smoking your hash with me
Bob and weave (I feel much better now)

Big Something ended their second set with another classic cover as they invited Jeremy Prince and Charlie Ries to play “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel, where we got to hear the EWI in full effect. We were lucky enough to get an encore from the band, ending the night with a journey of a song, “Evil Josh,” which had our heads spinning. Check out Big Something at a festival near you this summer to get your Headspace right!

Connect with Big Something on Instagram, Spotify, TikTok and their website.

📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis

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