Big Sho’ in Gainesville: Music, art, street culture

Who: Carnival w/Madwoman, Twelve’len, and more
When: April 15, 3pm-2am
Where: Celebrations Warehouse,  317 NE 35 Ave, G’ville
Cost: $45 + $3.375 sales tax (general Admission); $75 + $5.625 sales tax (VIP); age 5 and under free; under 16, 18+ year old guardian required
Parking: Parking options limited; using Uber/Lyft suggested

by Illyssa Mann

Artists such as Madwoman and Twelve’len are preparing for their performances at the BIG SHO’ on April 15 at Celebrations Warehouse. 

The BIG SHO’ festival is more than a hip-hop show; it’s an experience, according to Dion Dia: “A mixture of music, art, and street culture, showcased through the framework of the circus.”

Madwoman is a five-person alternative music band performing in Gainesville for eight years. 

“To be included in this very monumental experience that [Dion Dia] is curating for the community feels like such an honor,” Sammie ‘Leni’ Daigle, 28, Madwoman’s lead singer and vox player, said.

Madwoman’s guitar player Chandler McFarland, 27, notes the festival’s circus theme fits their band’s style well. 

“The BIG SHO’ is a carnival. It’s in your face. It’s loud. It’s beautiful. It’s mesmerizing, strange and exciting,” McFarland said. “We are inspired by those themes and try to bring them to life in our sets and music.” 

Artist Twelve’len, 30, will perform at The BIG SHO’, specializing in a blend of rock, rhythm and blues (R&B), and soul music. He said the theme “creates a mark where people can come together and celebrate life, art and the growth of a city.”

“It’s amazing what Dion Dia is doing, creating a moment entirely by giving it a theatrical theme. It gives the festival a moment that people can remember,” Twelve’len said. 

McFarland said when The BIG SHO’ was pitched to their band, they were “stoked,” and they didn’t need much convincing to jump at the opportunity. 

“This show, specifically, is other-worldly. Having a show we are excited about is one thing, but then it’s curated for a specific cause. We couldn’t ask for more,” he said.

The band started out playing shows at a local cafe in Gainesville in 2014. Since then, McFarland said watching the “constant tides” of bands and music entering the local scene has been interesting. 

“I’ve seen Dion Dia and How Bazar pushing for diversity and hip-hop. As a spectator, hip-hop was missing from the scene prior, and it’s interesting to watch the ebb and flow of great music,” he said.

Twelve’len noted the importance of creating such a space for music to thrive. When he first performed in Gainesville in 2016, Twelve’len said there wasn’t a lot of alternative R&B or hip-hop—instead, mainly rock, indie, and folk bands performed in the scene.

“Gainesville has always been one of my favorite places to perform because every time I come back, I see the growth of the rap scene,” Twelve’len said.

McFarland said he feels blessed by the Gainesville music scene, and it’s always a homecoming whenever the band travels for performances and comes back to perform here.

“I feel that the artists here help support and foster new bands,” he said. 

Daigle continues on this note. “There is a large concentration of musicians here, making for a very rich community,” she said. Whenever we come back to Gainesville, it’s very significant. We’re always grateful for the diversity of our community.”

When performing, Daigle spoke about the power of music to transport you into another world. She said the band puts effort and intention into the show’s flow.

“We can take people on a ride, a journey, through the ebbs and flows of the performance. There are elements of connection and allowing people to tap into the present through music,” she said. 

When it comes to performances, Twelve’len noted that “music is like glue” because it brings the community together in a particular way. 

“When you have these alternative artists, whose music isn’t traditional to areas of today, there’s inspiration,” he said. “Music has the ability to gather people and inspire them.”

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