By: Tyler Macleod
It’s rare to discover a new band or musical group whose name actually captures their true sound and identity. Browse any music-streaming platform and you’re sure to be overwhelmed with the near-impossible task of sifting through thousands of obscure names and titles that only tiptoe around the brand of music you may be trying to pinpoint.
And while their particular brand of music is still technically hard to define (don’t worry, that’s a good thing) Ithaca, New York’s Big Mean Sound Machine at least let prospective listeners know exactly what they’re getting into. For starters, the band is certainly anything but small. With nine members composing the singer-less instrumental outfit, there are a lot of moving parts keeping this dance-inducing machine running. And by drawing influences from a cornucopia of musical styles and genres – everything from funk, jazz, and hip-hop – the band’s sound couldn’t be described any more accurately than one mean machine.“The music of Big Mean Sound Machine is a canvas on which audiences paint their own detailed pictures,” comments drummer Lucas Ashby. “Combining a rock-solid rhythm section with a trio of horns with a deep understanding of blend, [we] float between grooves drawing from Afrobeat, funk, Ethio-jazz, and hip-hop, elevating the crowd into a frenzy, joyful dance.”
Certainly, the frenzy is what Big Mean Sound Machine hopes to bring to Winter Park Thursday night at 9 p.m. when they take the stage at Ullrs Tavern for a free live show. For a band whose style is right at home with the ample electronic acts and DJs that define the Colorado music scene, it’s pretty surprising that Thursday will also mark the band’s first time playing in the Centennial State.
“While several of the band members have previously performed in Colorado with other bands, Big Mean Sound Machine is beyond thrilled to make our debut nothing short of ‘Colo-radical,’” says Ashby.
The band kicks off their three-night Colorado debut at the popular Ullrs Tavern, followed by consecutive nights at Boulder’s Lazy Dog and Denver’s Cervantes’ Other Side. Despite still being a relatively young act – having formed in 2009 – Big Mean Sound Machine already has a catalog of music running four full-lengths deep alongside a handful of stellar EPs. Their most recent album, 2017’s Runnin’ for a Ghost, has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from fans, in addition to glowing reviews from music critics and publications alike.“It was our most involved studio album to date,” admits Ashby. “With influences and recording techniques farther-flung across the globe and technology spectrum than any of our previous work. The album as a whole makes a strong case for combining meticulously planned, highly-orchestrated compositions.”
Surely, with nine members squeezing on stage and into the tour van on a nightly basis, the outfit is bound to be a tight-knit bunch both musically and personally. Listen to any of their albums, and you’ll hear the hum of one finely tuned machine. It’s a sound that will quickly perk the ears of any modern electronic music enthusiast, but also draw praise from fans of classic funk and hip-hop along the way. But mostly, Big Mean Sound Machine is for anyone who enjoys a damn good time on the dance floor, or maybe just a deeply layered instrumental adventure through the
solitary comfort of a set of headphones.
“Whether engaging with Big Mean means dropping the needle on one of our albums and relaxing in front of your hi-fi [stereo], or coming to one of our live shows and dancing your way straight to that meditative bliss,” says Ashby, “Big Mean wants to extend a big, groovy hug your way.”
So don’t miss out on your big, groovy hug this Thursday night – it’s sure to be one big, mean night of music and dancing that may be hard to fully define, but unquestionably easy to enjoy.
An East Coast transplant, Tyler grew up just north of Baltimore, Md., where he studied Journalism and New Media at nearby Towson University. He moved to Grand County in the fall of 2011, and aside from a brief stint in Bozeman, Mont., has called the Fraser Valley home ever since. Currently, he is a freelance writer and photographer who spends the majority of his free time snowboarding, cycling, and hanging out at the local skatepark. Tyler recently became an owner-partner of Visit Winter Park Magazine and heads up writing and sales.