Bigwig - Stay Asleep (retro review) (Cover Artwork)


Stay Asleep (retro review) (1999)


Bigwig has always been a live band, first and foremost. Up and down the east coast and into Canada, their shows became appointment events, playing to packed houses full of impressionable kids ogling at their heroes. With Josh and John’s timed jumps, Matt’s shirtless aggression behind the kit and Tom’s celebrity-esque stage presence, their energy started to heat-map nationally, amassing a following that led them to Fearless Records.

When they released their long-anticipated debut full-length Un Merry Melodies in 1997, some found it a bit underwhelming. Aside from the opening onslaught in the first three tracks, it didn’t translate that well compared to their ruckus live performance. It had bite, but the meat of the record lacked that lasting factor. It wasn’t until their follow-up, Stay Asleep, (now on Kung Fu Records,) where their recorded material came to life, truly representing what it was like to experience a Bigwig show, even if you never had the chance to catch them on the road.

Stay Asleep was a combination of new songs, a re-recording of “Jerk” and “Flavor Ice” from their first 7-inch, (and both surprisingly left off Un Merry Melodies,) and a few other tracks previously released on a variety of compilations. Front to back it felt more like a setlist than a tracklist, sequenced in a way that layered melodic hardcore rippers with fast and quirky pop-punk boppers. They tackled some serious topics like war, societal issues and even the perils of touring life, but the juvenile and far-from-Shakespearean tracks on this record were some that became staples in their discography. “Flavor Ice” is the prime example here; a supercharged summer love banger that’s unleashed from the sappiness and breakdown-heavy “Smile” before it, erupting with that initial strum and oncoming riffs. Similarly, “Sellout” was shot right out of a cannon with the, “Have youuuuu ever paid 30 bucks,” opening line that delivered a sing-a-long battle cry opposing anyone who told them that the “Music is in your wallet and no longer in your heart.” “1-800-Whipped” also became quite the fan-favorite, primarily due to its initial inclusion on ‘97’s Fearless Flush Sampler that every kid with a pair of JNCOs owned. It also made for the perfect album closer with its ska-heavy verses and classic, repeating “She falls asleep on the phone” hook.

After Stay Asleep, Bigwig started to dilute the pop-punk a bit from their songwriting and got heavier, angrier and even more serious. Sonically, their songs became more powerful and looking back, you heard some notions of it here in the direction that they were headed. Songs like “Dent”, “Falling Down” and “Numbers” were the hardcore balance on Stay Asleep that inspired the future course of Bigwig. It was this see-sawing of lightning speed pop-punk and dark, rage-fueled melodic hardcore songs that made Stay Asleep the perfect representation and depiction of everything that Bigwig was as a band – from the stage to the studio. Hit play on the record today and the opening chords on “Still” will transport you right back to your teens, packed like a sardine in a fire hall just waiting for that massive “Two thousand miles away from YOU” bomb to open things up.