On Sunday in Jacksonville, I attended my 4th Big Ticket Festival, and came away from the day thinking I had seen the best musical line-up they’d ever offered. Kudos to X102.9 and Danny Wimmer Presents for putting together a killer day of Alternative Rock.
You can read my thoughts on the Festival as a whole here, but if you’re more focused on all of the killer bands who filled the day, check out these capsule summaries of each band we saw on this fantastic day filled with the best of today’s Alt-Rock.
An excellent choice to start the festival off with a cool rock vibe. Unfortunately, I spent the first half of their set listening from Security and Media check-in, but I liked what I heard. These Coloradans dished out supremely likeable dance rock with a distinctive island flair, ukuleles and all. Good stuff…
Garrett Borns is a talented young frontman on the rise and opened the Jagermeister Stage with a tight set. The bass driven electronic-tunes were popular with the crowd who were grooving throughout as the music was buoyed by Borns fantastic vocal range. After declaring, “I am Borns, you are Borns, we are Borns, they kicked it up a notch with the two closers, “Seeing Stars” and “Electric Love.”
X102.9’s Tank introduced them as”Limp Bizkit of electronic punk.” Hell is one hell of a frontman and he delivered a set that had everyone in the crowd moving. Accompanied by two keyboard players, he was untethered and able to race around the stage. With a polished stage presence, and a fantastic voice he was a compelling frontman. Highlights of his set was a great version of his new release “Thumbelina,” and a face solo from one of the keyboard players.
One of my favorite acts of the Big Ticket. Sax driven music with a relaxed fun vibe. Dynamic singer AJ Jackson showed off his keyboard and guitar skills as well as pristine vocals, as he also became the first band member to jump into the crowd. “My Type”, their closer was a fun hip shaker that conjured up fun memories of 80’s new wave. Fun fact – while they were working technical issues, drummer Greg Erwin treated the fans to an impromptu drum solo.
I didn’t love their sound, but led by Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, they were the first female fronted band of the day, and were a huge hit with the young women in attendance. They offered up decent pop rock and closed with a crowd accompanied singalong of the powerful “My House.” Fun Fact: One of my peers in the photo pit referred to them as “Pervis” – the correct pronunciation is “Paris.”
Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness
I love the authentic sound of a real piano in a modern rock song, and these guys built their sound around it. McMahon is the most energetic, dynamic pianist I’ve ever seen. He flew around the stage, jumped into the crowd several times and even sang an entire song as he was surfed across the crowd on his back. “Cecillia And The Satellite” sounded superb, with a lot of help from his Jacksonville friends.
One of the hottest bands on the agenda, and they were a huge hit with the fans. Sam Harris traded off masterfully between sax and vocals and was one of the most charismatic performers of the day. Their rendition of “Unsteady” was intoxicating and powerful, driven by Harris’s amazing vocals. They brought the crowd to a fever pitch during the rousing “Renegades,” a triumphant moment for Sam’s brother Casey, the band’s talented (and blind) keyboard player.
Wow! I’ll be honest, when I saw the stage set-up and realized this would be one guy entertaining thousands of festival-goers, I was a bit doubtful, but damn, can this guy entertain. I’m not sure how to describe his music, but DeLong is a keyboard/drummer sound effects guru who is absolutely creative as hell. It was dancy rock with a club feel that had everyone on the grounds dancing through his set. The entire set was great, but the finale, “Global Concepts” did indeed “make us all fucking dance.”
I was disappointed. Last time I saw this California quintet, they blew me away, primarily thanks to the charismatic performance of frontman Jesse Rutherford. On this date, it just wasn’t there, and most of the remainder of the band seemed to be sleepwalking through the set. They did sound good especially during an Echo And The Bunnymen-esque jam, but their set seemed to lack the passion they are known for.
Making their first trip to Florida, the UK band delivered a tight set. Their sound was a bit more mellow than I expected and although they sounded good, it was another set that didn’t really excite me. I did like that they figured out a way to work an xylophone into their repertoire – cool touch!
Walk The Moon
With “Hakuna Matata” piping through the PA, they took to the stage seemingly promising there’d be no worries the rest of the day – and they delivered. Frontman Nicholas Petricca is evolving into quite the performer. He was energetic and charismatic and had the crowd in the palm of his hands. The crowd initiated a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for bassist Kevin Ray before the quartet kicked into one of the singalong moments of the night with a raucous version of “Shut Up And Dance. ” Then they managed to kick it up another notch with an incendiary version of “Anna Sun,” which up to that point was definitely the highlight of the festival.
So, as I was sitting in the photo pit, one of my peers mentioned how talented the musicians in this band were, and I was not disappointed. As he slid behind the skins, drummer Darren King grabbed a roll of duct tape and ferociously wrapped his headphones to his head. Good choice because he was a wild man beating on the drums. Along with his bandmates, they sounded great and did a great job closing the Jagermeister stage for the night with a tight and entertaining set.
Of Monsters And Men
My favorite Icelandic nine-piece! I love this band’s music, but I’m starting to think they’re not built for a festival setting. Their sound was pristine and the music they delivered exceptional. Unfortunately, they just didn’t have the energy or stage presence that I was looking for in the penultimate act of a fantstic festival. All that being said, “Little Talks” was a special moment, and one of the highlights of the day.
Twenty One Pilots
Three years ago, these guys opened The Big Ticket, and on that December afternoon, it was immediately obvious that they were on the road to becoming something special. And, on this night just three years later, they were closing the night, and with expectations incredibly high, they delivered… yet again!
Tyler Joseph came out singing “Heavydirtysoul” and immediately had the crowd in the palm of his hands and for the next hour, never loosened that grip.
Their songs are relatable and they had the crowd singing harmonies with them all night long. Joseph, climbed on top of speakers, into the crowd, and up the scaffolding on the side of the stage, while his partner Josh Dun beat the hell out of his drums, including throwing in a flip during a killer version of “Holding Onto You.”
They offered a little taste of “House Of Gold, ” and a singalong snippet of “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” As they closed out their set, they had the crowd in a frenzy with fantastic versions of “Tear In My Heart” and “Car Radio” before finally closing with “Guns For Hands / Trees,” sending the exhausted crowd home thoroughly satisfied.
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