Can we point to The Bigness an example of Philly D.I.Y.? They don’t play emo or punk rock — even though their songs are emotional, and they do rock. Their gigs don’t take place in tallboy-littered basements on the fringes of university campuses — but their sound is so dialed-in, it would feel just as good there as in a club. Hovering in and around their 30s, the bandmates have a solid decade-plus on the average D.I.Y. scene participant — but what is age, anyway, when it comes to art?
Surface similarities may be shaky, true. But as far as their work ethic, their love of hooks and their pure spirit, the common ground is hard to deny: The Bigness makes music by themselves, for themselves, and it’s an inviting and inclusive thing of joy.
Fronted by singer-guitarist and songwriter Kristin Bigness with lead guitarist John Bueno, the band got its start home-recording in a Fishtown apartment on top of Fran’s hoagie shop circa 2011, when the Surf+Turf EP came alive to a steady diet of Fleetwood Mac, Yo La Tengo and Patti Smith. Six years of gigs, lineup changes, songwriting and song-revising later, and the band released its Time Traveler LP earlier this year. It’s a glorious pop record in the vein of Belly and 90s R.E.M.; recorded with the prolific Jeff Zeigler, the album’s twelve songs are a radiant reflection on life and death, on the temporal onslaught and the things left behind in its wake.
This is most evident on the soaring “Beautiful Life,” which opens the live set at WXPN studios recently recorded by The Bigness — which also features David Kovach on drums and Stephen Maurer on bass. The song is about moving forward with those you love, going so far and so fast, and then pausing to take in the frightening distance behind you. We’re all time travelers, the song seems to assert — and even though it is a one way road, the beauty along the way remains in the form of memory. “Run Run (Escape Anthem)” details the motion of the journey, the drive to get somewhere, anywhere; “Who Can Tell (If It’s Allright)” takes an angrier tone, venting about betrayal and abandonment encountered along the way.
These three songs from Time Traveler make up The Bigness’ Key Session, along with a new one called “Rest of the Sky,” which crafts a celestial metaphor for the letting loose of emotional hangups — which, to return to our central theme, Kristin sums up as a “waste of time.” Watch that song performed live in WXPN studios below, via VuHaus.
This weekend, The Bigness headlines Ortlieb’s in Northern Liberties on Saturday, September 16th; Stuyvesant and exmaid are also on the bill, and more information on the 21+ gig can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, listen to an archive of the band’s Key Studio Session in full.
The Bigness, The Key Studio Sessions