Colossal speakers stretch to the ceiling on either side of the stage, sandwiching a fairly simple setup of drums and cymbals, a keyboard and a projection screen. The crowd fizzes with the energy of a shaken soda can, eager to burst at the first bass drop. Big Wild has everyone on their toes at Turner Hall
Blue lights pierce the crowd as an electronic sound slices through the buzz of a thousand conversations. A glittering female figure appears on stage right. She shreds on a silver guitar and a man’s falsetto rings out, eliciting excited yelling as everyone’s attention is directed centerstage to Jackson Stell, known better as Big Wild. His long hair is loose and untamed and his energy is unmatchable.
The front of the crowd leans against the metal barrier, every person’s eyes glued to the performers. At some point, three women appear onstage to sing along with Big Wild’s electronic rhythms. Colored spotlights shine over the crowd in bursts, pivots and swivels, illuminating a sea of cellphones, beer cans, backwards hats and hands bouncing to the beat. As Big Wild’s performance progresses, his energy doesn’t dwindle and neither does his audience’s.
The back of the crowd glimmers with LED-lit fingertips, the spinning of poi balls, the twisting of hula hoops, glow-in-the-dark glasses, faces of glitter-accented makeup and rainbow patterned clothing. The soundboard is another point of interest that is particularly intriguing at this concert considering the overlapping dances of the lights, instrumentals, electronic boards and singing.
The view from Turner Hall’s balcony is something very special that offers an entrancing look at the undulating crowd in all their sparkling glory, cheering, hand dancing glory. Though the floor space is extensive, the audience is densely packed. One of the magical things about concerts is the space you share with strangers. Maybe you exchange words, glances or sweat, but in only an hour or two, you’ll share an experience that expires, making it something to treasure. Watching over Big Wild’s audience from the balcony, the music is very much being savored through dance. This is something that maybe not every concert experience allows, but when it does, you have to take advantage of it.
Even for people not “into” the EDM scene, Big Wild puts on an impressive and enjoyable show. A highlight of the night begins with Stell singing “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, which the crowd joins in on. A stagehand brings out what looks like a medium-sized music speaker, and the singer sits on it and begins drumming the sides and front to the beat of his song “Venice Venture,” remixing “Born to Be Wild” live. Like the rest of his set, the performance has the infectious dancey beats of EDM mixed with easy-to-learn pop lyrics.
Big Wild’s debut album, “Superdream,” is out now. Buy or stream it here.
All photos by Gabriella Cisneros for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.