Last updated on July 4th, 2023 at 06:42 pm
On a cloudy evening in Northfield, a small crowd gathered inside The Grand Event Center. With potential rain in the forecast, everyone was pleased to hunker down and watch The Big Wu perform a hometown show.
“The Wu” found its beginnings in the small historic town of Northfield in 1992 and went on to see national touring success. The band has cycled many musicians over the years, but today consists of Chris Castino (Guitar/Vocals), Andy Miller (Bassist), Terry VanDeWalker (Drummer/Vocals), Al Oikari (Keyboards), and Mark Joseph Grundhoefer (Guitar/Vocals).
A Big Wu show is always a family affair, but even more so on this night, as many families took advantage of the free admittance for anyone 12 and under. This all-ages show was organized to raise funds for the nonprofit Northfield Union of Youth.
NUY is celebrating 30 years of “providing food, housing security, mental health services, and opportunities for mentoring and community involvement.” This show was also a part of The Big Wu’s 30th-anniversary tour, making for a special night.
To start the evening, Space Monkey Mafia, a band hailing from Minneapolis, took the stage. Their hour-and-a-half opening performance blended many genres, including punk, ska, and classic rock. By the end of the set, everyone in the room was buzzing with energy and ready for more.
At 6 o’clock, The Big Wu took the stage and launched into their set, including two of my favorites, “Break of Day” and “Chateau in the Know.” These two groove-heavy numbers quickly had even the most stationary patrons of The Grand moving to the climbing jams and melodic hooks that the band is well known for.
A common saying in the jam community is, “Never miss a Sunday show.” Mark Joseph is currently on his solo tour for his new single “Palisade Peach.” He walked on stage for his fourth day in a row and showed everyone in attendance that this saying still holds. Known best for his versatile skill on lead guitar, he effortlessly brought many jams to a crescendo with soaring guitar solos.
Although The Big Wu’s tours seldom take them out of the Midwest nowadays, this band shows no signs of stopping. Their ability to get a room moving and retain a loyal fan base will keep them progressing for years to come.