PROUDLY CELEBRATING 22 WONDERFUL YEARS OF MUSIC - CULTURE & FAMILY, ALL THANKS TO YOU!

MAY 26 - 28, 2023

THREE SISTERS PARK - CHILLICOTHE, IL

Big Something Escapes the Living Room in Asheville

All images by Sasha Savinov of gratefulgypsies.com
What’s up SCampers? Camp Counselor Sasha here with the first 2022 show review on the Campfire! Following the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong NYE space disco extravaganza, we hibernated for a solid two weeks. When we saw that North Carolina’s own Big Something was coming to Asheville, though, we decided to leave our cave and rock out. Here’s a quick recap of their 2-night run on the indoor stage at Salvage Station. But first, let’s get to know the band.
Hailing from Burlington, NC, Big Something is a 6-piece alternative rock band that has elements of pop and funk thrown in. The band is Nick MacDaniels on guitar and vocals, Jesse Hensley on lead guitar, Doug Marshall on bass, Josh Kagel on keys and trumpet, Ben Vinograd on drums, and Casey Cranford on sax and EWI.
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Never heard of the EWI? Neither had I. It stands for “electronic wind instrument” and it’s pretty freaking sweet. It definitely adds a unique element to their sound. Cranford smoothly alternates between the sax and the EWI throughout their set. It’s a lot of fun watching him jam out up there!
Anyways, back to the band… They formed in 2009 and have released six studio albums in that time. Their most recent release is a live album called “Escape From the Living Room” which you should probably go ahead and stream while you read the review!
This was my first time seeing Big Something, but they’ve been on my radar for a while now. They’re on tons of festival lineups these days, including Summer Camp 2022! Now let’s get down to business and recap the weekend in Asheville.
Opening the show on both nights was Little Stranger. This eclectic duo hails from the City of Brotherly Love, which is fitting since they’re actually brothers. They live in Charleston these days and they’re hitting the road pretty hard with their quirky indie hip-hop sound. You may have seen them on the Campfire Stage last year. In case you missed it, here they are on the “Around the Campfire” series:

Unfortunately, I missed most of their set on the first night and totally missed them on Saturday. It was a busy work week and we also had a friend’s birthday party to attend in the afternoon. You can’t win them all, folks… We did manage to catch their last song on Friday and really enjoyed their sit-in with Big Something at the end of the show the next night.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Big Something live, since the last shows I listened to of theirs were a 3-set NYE throwdown and their Talking Heads-themed Halloween. It turns out they usually play one long set and then an encore. They’re not exactly a jam band, but they sure are a band that jams.
The first night at Salvage Station was an intimate affair with lots of space to dance. That was a good thing as they kicked off the show with a groovy “Love Generator” followed by “EWI 4000” that let Cranford shine on his unique instrument.
Apparently some people didn’t get the memo that this was a 2-night run. The crowd turned out on Saturday, but more on that in a bit…
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To be honest, I’m not all that familiar with their catalog and am just learning the song names. I’m definitely a fan of “Megalodon” and they played that one on Friday night. They also played a couple of awesome covers by Prince (“Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad”) and Peter Gabriel (“Sledgehammer”), the latter of which was dedicated to the Salvage Station crew.
The 6-piece took us on a ride through originals “Tumbleweed,” “The Flood,” and “Pinky’s Ride” to end the set. A one-song encore of “Timebomb” followed and sent us out into the chilly Asheville night. Here’s the setlist from their Facebook page:
1/21/2022
Love Generator
EWI 4000
The Breakers
Heavy
Megalodon
Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad (Prince)
Sundown Nomad
Algorithm
Plug
Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel)
Tumbleweed
The Flood
Pinky’s Ride
E: Timebomb
Walking into the venue on night two, the first thing I noticed was that there was at least twice the number of people as the night before. It wasn’t packed to the gills or anything, but people definitely came out to boogie on a Saturday night.
Just for reference, you had to show your vaccine card or proof of a negative test to get into the shows. Asheville on the whole is a pretty vaxxed city, and we felt comfortable attending these shows indoors. After all, this is the “Escape From the Living Room” tour and we were eager to do just that after the past few years.
The second night fittingly kicked off with the intro to “Escape” which kicked off a long stream of songs. I don’t think they took a break for the first 30 minutes or so of the set.
The room was bouncing and the crowd was super into it, even with the NFL playoffs airing on a few TVs in the back. I personally enjoyed watching Aaron Rodgers blow it at home as the 49ers walked away with the win, all the while dancing to Big Something.
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Later on in the set, “Evil Josh” was a sign of things to come. The band brought out local hero Josh Phillips on acoustic guitar and vocals next to play a few of his songs. Everyone was having a blast on stage and that energy was felt all across the room.
After running through originals “Chemistry” and “Song For Us,” I recognized the intro to a very familiar song. The band harkened back to their Halloween set with a smoking rendition of the Talking Heads‘ “Crosseyed and Painless.” That was an absolute blast to hear and they really nailed that one.
Closing out the set was “UFOs Are Real,” which had me reminiscing on that Pigeons space disco from a few weeks prior. It’s been a good first month of the year in terms of live music down here in the Land of the Sky!
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To finish the weekend, Big Something returned to the stage for a double-encore of “Burn For Me” by Night Flight Orchestra and “Bob & Weave.” They brought Josh Phillips back out along with Little Stranger for a super fun end to the show. Here’s the setlist from night two in Asheville:
1/22/2022
Escape (Intro) >
Blue Dream >
Dangerous >
Amanda Lynn >
Pnuts Song
Waves >
Evil Josh
Steam Powered Aeroplane [1]
It Ain’t Easy [2]
Chemistry
Song For Us
Crosseyed & Painless (Talking Heads)
UFOs are Real
E: Burn For Me (Night Flight Orchestra) >
Bob & Weave [3]
Notes:
[1] John Hartford / Josh Phillips Folk Festival Cover, first time played, with Josh Phillips on guitar and lead vocals
[2] Josh Phillips Folk Festival Cover, first time played, with Josh Phillips on guitar and lead vocals
[3] w/ Josh Phillips and Little Stranger on vocals
 
All in all, it was an excellent weekend of live music in Asheville. I’m happy with our decision to leave hibernation mode for a couple of nights to let loose and dance a little.
It was a reminder of why I love being a Camp Counselor so much. I didn’t know much about any of the artists going into the weekend but walked out with a few new favorites to add to my rotation.
These were the first shows on their Escape From the Living Room tour, which rolls on across the country for the next several months. Check out the tour dates and do yourself a favor by catching these guys when they come to your town. I’ll see you right up front for their set at Summer Camp in May!
Camp Counselor Sasha