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Davis, California

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Big Wild gives unforgettable live performance

Impressive vocals, instrumentals move crowd

Back in Northern California where his Big Wild project was inspired for his sold-out fifth stop on his “Superdream” tour on March 10, Big Wild transformed Ace of Spades in Sacramento into a true glimpse of heaven.

Big Wild (aka Jackson Stell) took the stage after less-than-impressive Mild Minds, whose relaxed sound might warrant a spot on my study playlist, and Robotaki, whose versatile, energetic set got the crowd in the right mood.

Because of the small stage at Ace of Spades, I was first concerned that Big Wild wouldn’t be able to command the space like he did a few months ago at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The second the lights went down and the visuals began, I immediately knew that this would not be the case. A female guitarist stepped onto stage playing the immediately-recognizable first few bars of “City of Sound.” Stell, donning a floral shirt, welcomed the crowd to his show, transforming the small stage into his very own city of sound and giving the audience a first glimpse at his powerful vocals.

His next song was also a crowd-favorite, “For The Love (Big Wild Remix)” originally a GRiZ song. Its funky beat and unsuspecting drop segued into a drum solo, the groove completely flowing through him and his drumsticks.

“Alley-Oop” (one of his favorite songs off the album) brought iDA HAWK onto stage. In matching yellow, Big Wild took to the elevated part of the stage and let her do her thing, which was absolutely wowing me with her energy and vocal runs. It was empowering to see three women (a bass guitarist had also joined in at this point) up on stage, Stell letting them shine.

I can’t name an EDM producer that has remixed a classic rock ‘n’ roll song as perfectly as Stell did Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” A solo on the cajón reminded me of the first reason I was attracted to Stell’s style. That and his hair.

Joined by iDA HAWK, the guitarist and the bassist, all wearing black sequin jumpsuits and executing perfect harmonies, “Maker” created a soundscape reminiscent of the 70s. The fan next to me looked me dead in the eye and gushed, “he’s unbelievable.”

“Aftergold,” one of Stell’s most popular songs and one that the audience was definitely excited for was a bit anticlimactic. Stell made everyone wait for the beat drop, but when it did, I instantly forgave him for making me wait. I guess the time old adage is true.

After “ending” the show and a very quick pause, Stell came back on stage for his encore. Against a blue background and singing into a lone mic and practically floating above the crowd, he sang “Heaven,” giving a powerful, ethereal last performance. Kneeling on the ground, he gave us the last piece of soul. My friend whispered to me, “why is he a literal angel?”

Stell gave us the ultimate Big Wild performance and created a cosmic soundscape that pushed the limits of the genre. Stell’s set seamlessly blended electronic, pop, rock ‘n’ roll and even jazz. His mesmerizing vocals and instrumentals brought the “Superdream” album to life.

Written By: Liz Jacobson — arts@theaggie.org


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