Northgate Tavern(Baton Rouge)
Big Blue Marble
October 08, 2005
Big Blue Marble had an itch they couldn't scratch at the Northgate Tavern Saturday night. Vocalist/guitarist Dave Fera screamed into the mic with the abandon and passion of a man on fire. And, of course, drummer Shaun Washburn always plays with the crazed grin of a man about to set off a bomb, so he was happy to feed off of Fera's mayhem. Despite lead guitarist Ike Aguilar's shy demeanor, he's really a stadium rocker at heart. Once Fera pushed him out of his shell, they were leaning on each other, back to back, and playing dueling guitars. Bassist Sara Essex and keyboardist Adam Campagna politely smiled when Fera showed his first signs of life, but during the climax of "Swingin' From a Rope," they joined in on the fun, like the rest of the band. The music stopped, and everyone came back in at the same millisecond, creating an explosion. An amazing energy pulsed through the place, and Big Blue Marble went nuts. Campagna maniacally pounded his "Jesus Hands" tambourine while Essex punded bodies with Fera and Aguilar. Lap steel guitarist Mike Blum even stood up to play his guitar vertically. There was something different about Big Blue Marble this night. They played like they had a monkey on their back or like they had something to prove. This made sense. Before the concert, Fera said the band got a lot of bad energy from the hurricane out the night before in Austin. Apparently they hadn't gotten rid of all of it.
If there was any justice in the world, Big Blue Marble(like Rotary Downs) would be signed to a generous record label contract. They play wonderfully intricate rock songs that can be soft and sweet or hard and menacing. Pop meets americana meets indie. They're very talented, and hurricane withstanding, they're poised to get better and put out a better record than their last, the impressive "Stars in Suburbia."
Big Blue Marble's secret weapon is Blum. He's happy sitting in the corner and providing textures and colors that aren't the most recognizable things in BBM's live sound. Still, his contribution is immeasurable. Sure, the band could play without him, but the music wouldn't sound as delicious, as intelligent. Blum is the wax job, the cherry on top.
The BR crowd was reserved throughout the concert. They stayed back. Only a few people got close, and they were extreme dancers. Mostly, the space right in front of the band was used as a walkway. Still, the crowd clapped like they knew they were witnessing an impassioned performance from an above-average band. The band stumbled here and there, and Fera broke a string on his electric, forcing him to acoustic, but the nails were in the coffin when BBm ened their set with "This is not Boston, it's Louisiana." If the bar wasn't alive before the whole band sang those words, they were then. Nothing like some local pride to get the audience going. Whoah. The people got rocked whether they wanted to be or not.