Sensory Overload: Bigshot

From the December 15, 2011 edition

Rappers aren’t known for humility, so if one of them started emceeing under the name Bigshot, nobody would blink. But Clinton-era alt-rock is shrugged-shoulders music, a genre that typically vacillates between indifference and despair, so naming your moody guitar band Bigshot is a cut against the grain.

On stage at Kobo last Saturday, they validated the presumed self-admiration with a short, sweet set that sent me spiraling back to my ninth-grade love affair with Deftones.

Mind you, Bigshot is not a nu-metal band, but by 1999 neither was Deftones. They had moved on to channeling Depeche Mode, filtering the synth saviors’ gloomy color palette through distorted guitars and aggressive moans.

As I took in Bigshot’s ambitious soundscapes Saturday, I couldn’t shake the memories of Chino Moreno’s tenor skyrocketing through the echo chamber. A spin through the Columbus quartet’s self-titled EP, which they were celebrating Saturday, confirmed my suspicions.

Now, I don’t want to overstate Bigshot’s resemblance to Deftones. The members might not even listen to that band, though I would be shocked to find that out. But as I made my way through the EP, the aesthetic kept leaping from my headphones — Deftones do “Bends”-era Radiohead! Deftones do “Blue”-era Weezer! Deftones do Fleet Foxes!

If this sounds like a mess, it’s not. On stage Saturday they conjured a consistent, powerful aesthetic. Nimble guitar riffs snaked through the upper and lower registers like close cousins, usually floating across violent waves of sonic texture. Only the lead vocals, quivering ever so slightly in and out of tune, left me less than satisfied.

By the time they rolled out their set-closing rendition of EP highlight “No Dino” — capped off with a grand, intensifying sway worthy of Weezer’s adolescent epic “Only In Dreams” — I considered myself a fan.

It was an incredibly artful display by a band that should have a bigger profile in the Columbus music landscape. Perhaps by naming themselves so boldly, they were taking a page from Drake and biting Muhammad Ali: “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.”