All Aboard the Sol Driven Train!
Saturday night’s opener at the Charleston Pour House, BIG Something, a six-piece powerhouse rock band emerging from the Southeast, produces a timeless sound that solidifies their title of Best Rising Artist, given by Live Music Daily. Their tunes fuse a myriad of genres, including hard rock, pop, and funk. At times, I think I may have even heard a little bit of ska in the mix. Comprised of band members Nick MacDaniels (guitar/lead vocals), Jesse Hensley (lead guitar), Casey Cranford (sax/EWI), Josh Kagel (keys/trumpet), Doug Marshall (bass), and Ben Vinograd (drums), BIG Something is truly something big in the works. Since sharing with the world their well-received albums Stories From the Middle of Nowhere (2010), Live From Uranus (2013), and BIG Something (2013), the band has come very far. The guys recently released their third full-length studio album, Truth Serum (2014), which was named 2014 Album of the Year by the Homegrown Music Network, making them the first band to ever win the award three times with three different releases. As if it couldn’t get better, Truth Serum is available to stream for free in its entirety at www.bigsomething.bandcamp.com. For a band with their name, they certainly live up to it with their big sound. With horns, synths, and guitars, you can’t go wrong. A highlight of BIG Something was undoubtedly the talented Casey Cranford, who can tear up the saxophone and EWI (electric wind instrument) and hit some big notes, showcased during their cover of The Who's classic Baba O’Riley, as well as some catchy originals, as heard in the video above. After the show on Saturday night at the Charleston Pour House, it was hard to say which band stood out more. I truly enjoyed the opener and headliner equally.
The energy was hot when it was time for one of our favorite local bands—Sol Driven Train. You may have seen the wacky music video for their song “Crazy Dancer” off their new album. A band that’s soulful and rich like Charleston’s culture, Sol Driven Train was ready to take the stage at the release party for their new album Dance. The openers nicely warmed up the crowd, and we were anxious to see what kind of crazy show was to come. Come to think of it, "crazy" is a bit of an understatement, in a very good way. I guess that’s what I expected when the six band members, Matt Thompson (bass/vocals), Wes Powers (drums), Russell Clarke (saxophone/vocals), Joel Timmons (guitar/vocals), Ward Buckheister (guitar/trombone/vocals), and Ross Bogan (keys/vocals) took the stage in kooky getups that looked like '80s throwbacks. Featuring impressive multi-instrumental talent, they each donned their own outfits, showcasing their individual styles. My favorite was Russell Clarke, who was sporting his full beard and bald head paired with a sequin jacket. And to top it all off, he was wearing roller skates for the entire show. Attention grabbers from the start, their music still spoke for itself. With hints of reggae, rock, and funk, their rhythmic ingredients are a recipe for success. I loved every new song I heard off their new album, especially “Coconut Tree” and “Lobstamandaughta.” With numerous awards from Charleston City Paper under their belt—including 2011 Rock Band of the Year, 2012 Jam Band of the Year, and 2013 World/Groove/Reggae Band of the Year—it was hard to identify their versatile sound, since they touch on all genres from all time periods. Nothing seems off limits for Sol Driven Train, and their hard work has truly paid off since their formation in 2000 as a group of friends gathering together in college apartments to share in the joy of music. Saturday night was my first Sol Driven Train experience, and I can now say that I am indubitably a fan. Who couldn’t be? Give their new album Dance a listen and see for yourself.
Photographs by Big Funk Photography