The Big Takeover on stage Friday at the Waterhole
SARANAC LAKE — Most folks often confuse the name of The Big Takeover with a reference to a song from the Rastafarian punk rock band the Bad Brains.
“Everybody thinks that, but it isn’t,” said NeeNee Rushie, lead singer of The Big Takeover. “There’s a movie called ‘Rocker’ that has all these legendary reggae artists in it. It’s from the 1970s, and it was filmed in Jamaica. It’s a pretty incredible movie. Rob [Kissner] (bassist) and Sam Trudeau (original drummer) loved that movie when I first met them. There’s a scene where this guy goes into a club, and they’re playing pop music. He kicks the DJ out of the DJ booth, and says, ‘this is the big takeover,’ and he starts to play reggae.”
Kissner and Trudeau started going to college parties and doing the same thing.
The Big Takeover will perform at the Waterhole at 9 p.m. Friday.
The Big Takeover has played the Waterhole multiple times and is a regular to the North Country. They’re also performing during Saranac Lake’s First Night New Year’s Eve celebration.
The band is a little bit of everything Jamaican — reggae, rocksteady, ska, two-tone — as well as some Motown and soul. With influences such as the Specials, Bob Marley and Amy Winehouse, The Big Takeover features a chucking guitar, a smooth bass and a prominent brass section.
Rushie said good reggae music is all about patterns and creating a sound audiences can follow easily.
“As long as the rhythm section is on and they’re doing the same thing over and over again in a very specific groove — a repetitious off-beat,” she said. “As long as that’s going steady, l feel like that really touches people. It’s almost kind of orgasmic. People always respond to the repetition of that baseline and kick drum heartbeat.”
One of the highlights of The Big Takeover is Rushie’s vocals. She’s been in New York since she was a teenager, so her American accent is prominent when speaking, but when she grabs a mic, her pseudo-patois singing takes center stage. Songs such as “Love Understands” and “Come Before Five” are good examples of the Big Takeover’s Caribbean-American sound.
Rushie is originally from Jamaica. She moved to New York when she was 16, and the band formed in 2008 while Rushie attended college at SUNY New Paltz.
“We started scheming immediately because we all liked reggae,” she said, “and I’d grown up with it because I was born in Jamaica. It had a very special place in my heart, and we all had a powerful connection with it.”
The group would play parties and bars, but their act took off after they opened for the Wailers.
“Every time we get an opportunity to open for somebody that I grew up listening to, and I consider them to be reggae gods and legends, it’s like an out of body experience. I’m so gracious and happy to get opportunities like that. We’ve been very lucky.”
The Big Takeover just finished a national tour and are currently working on a new album.
“A lot of the songs, we’ve already been playing out to the public,” Rushie said, “and people have been really enjoying them. The sound is always evolving, and right now, we have members in the band who are fresh new people. Every time we put a new product out there or go through a line-up change, it feels like we’ve become a brand new band.”
If you go…
Who: The Big Takeover
Where: The Waterhole, 48 Main St., Saranac Lake
When: 9 p.m. Friday
How much: $10