For any electronic/dance act, playing the Sahara Tent at Coachella's about as big as it gets. Colorado's Big Gigantic, however, decided that, well, that wasn't quite big enough. So, for both weekend's Coachella sets, they upped their showmanship -- not with a genre staple like a massive light projection or a huge confetti drop, but with something a bit more intense: The 30-student Shadow Hills High School Marching band who blasted their way through remixes of Aloe Blacc's "I Need a Dollar" and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "Can't Hold Us" to a massive, smiling throng of dancing concertgoers.
We caught up with manager Ben Baruch backstage before the band's show on the second weekend, where he told us about how it all came together. "This has been a dream come true," he said. "I lived in LA for 6 years and always wanted to play Coachella. We got the offer and were trying to figure out something to do that was creative, and we've always wanted to have a marching band... there's not a better place to really do it."
Once the plan was set in place, they got in touch with the school's band director, who was immediately on board. "There was no pushback at all -- they couldn't have been better about it or more excited about it," he said.
Big Gigantic drummer Jeremy Salken agrees. "This festival is known for kind of going over the top," he said. "It's great to involve kids and a marching band -- a local marching band -- it's awesome on every front. [Frontman/sax player] Dom [Lalli] was in marching band as a kid, I was in band, we were band geeks -- we know what it's like to be made fun of and not be cool. Now we get to do what we love to do."
"Hopefully it helps these kids realize that really anything is possible," Lalli said. "I'm really just a sax player who went through the whole high school band system all the way through college, and now I'm doing this. Hopefully it inspires them to take their life, or their music, or whatever, a step further."