The Tiny Giant Artist Collective is growing: It’s over 240 people large, more than two years old, and to the unfamiliar, it probably seems like something of an abstraction. In truth, it’s no more than a group of people involved with the NY/NJ rock scene who devote themselves to it, are motivated to contribute to it, and are hopelessly in love with it. That’s it… no special haircut or guitar-tone, no list of criteria besides a need felt to be in it, add to it. If its beginnings are unclear, they should stay murky. Of course, there’s a starting point, a group of progenitors, but they don’t concern us. The most important thing, and the thing that seems to be the most difficult to get across, is that Tiny Giant exists, in equal parts, as each of its members, with no hegemony. “Admins” only existed at all to keep the Facebook wall (a private one where our communications still take place) tidy, and remind members not to promote their own shows—a measure designed only to ensure that the wall doesn’t devolve into an unreadable hellhole of self-promo. With that in mind, every single person in the room was free to contribute in their own way. There’s not any set list of things to do in order to be a helpful member of the group. That simple. In the fall of 2011, as a certain anti-figurehead movement called Occupy was making a stink, their first meeting was held in the hilariously auspicious setting of an after-hours spa in Wayne. Its attendees listened, at first, while the guys who’d set up the meeting hammered down all the bullet points—play shows together, go to each other’s shows… just the obvious stuff, to break the ice. Once this was out of the way, resources were shared, ideas were put forth, and in this manner, the group proceeded until it had grown bigger than its individual parts.
As nothing is ever perfect, some of those ideas eventually fell by the wayside, even as others succeeded. Sometimes a band would be introduced (TG grows by association) and promptly vanish. There were inevitably some who were taken aback by the notion of “contributing,” perhaps intimidated—I was, in fact. My foraging little rock band from the ‘burbs was not well connected, comfortably financed, or particularly good at anything besides playing our songs (gimme the benefit of the doubt) and so, I braced for alienation. But we didn’t slink away—instead we linked up with other bands in the group to play showcases, got in our cars and went to ones we weren’t playing, and kept up on the Facebook group. Not exactly yeoman’s work, no, but even a service as meager as ours will, in the eyes of the group, confirm your ongoing interest in the community. It’s that simple—no one is waiting to hand its members a goodie bag of high-fives once they “get it right.” The way one longtime member of the group puts it is spot-on, if not kind of funny—the Collective has its own sort of “karma field” that emits to you what you put into it. Evidence for that is everywhere. The disparate experiences I’ve encountered over time strongly imply that those who submit nothing, or negativity, and choose to remain on the bubble, there they will stay. All these creative personas in constant association might seem volatile, but it’s not—conflict is a mercifully rare occurrence and it never truly damages our relationships with one another, because at all times, right before us, is the obvious truth that the group has really been successful. It’s still here. Everyone continues coordinating daily, still orchestrating small successes and brushing off smaller failures.
The Tiny Giant Winter Beach Ball festival, set to take place from Feb. 8-10 at four of the Collective’s favorite venues, should be looked at as an expression of what Tiny Giant is capable of, rather than what it is. Some will inevitably regard the group as only its bands, perhaps even emphasizing the ones who are most popular; this would be missing the point entirely—other sums of effort will take root from unsung contributors like online music journos James Damion and Jim Testa, fellow Aquarian Weekly writer Roz Smith, the folks at Lamplighter Magazine and at StarBeat Records… that’s to name a few. This is not to go all “we are strong, we are legion” on you; it’s really just this: Degrees of separation have been removed, ice has been broken, and an air of fellowship has been forged. What many of us might have once considered a rock scene in a sorry state of health is now clearly thriving. And considering the DIY attitudes of many of the group’s members, it’s sort of strange seeing our night at Asbury Lanes on sale at Ticketmaster, but there it is. Again, this is just one compilation of our efforts among many, with the chief beneficiaries being music enthusiasts throughout the Tri-State Area who have given us their support from the start.
The Tiny Giant Winter Beach Ball takes place from Feb. 8-10. For more information, go to facebook.com/tinygiantartistcollective.