In concert

It’s a whole new world for indie band

Jason Merritt / Getty Images

A Great Big World’s Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino drink herbal tea to improve their vocals. Singing with Christina Aguilera will inspire you like that.

“We’re in a different place now,” Axel said. “It’s a really surreal, beautiful experience for me.”

The two former New York University students behind indie pop turned mainstream success will perform Friday at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The new album Is There Anybody Out There? dropped Tuesday. And, the guys are still basking in the success of their emotional single, Say Something, which features vocals from Aguilera.

Axel said the song, which draws on personal experiences, is “fresh,” even though he and Vaccarino wrote it four years ago.

“It doesn’t really hurt when I perform it,” Axel said. “I’ve learned to love myself more.”

The track, which includes such lyrics as “You’re the one that I love/And I’m saying goodbye,” became complete when Aguilera sang the song. However, the version with The Voice judge has only been performed a few times, according to Axel.

“Christina added the female sound and texture to the record. It’s kind of like these two parallel worlds that are happening at the same time. She actually made the song universal,” Vaccarino said.

Axel says the rest of the album as a “bit different,” filled with songs of hope, harmonies and a general upbeat theme. He said he is “excited and nervous” to see how an audience responds.

One song in particular, entitled Everyone Is Gay, has a clear message. The guys drew inspiration from, a site that gives advice to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth.

“We’re coming from a place where you don’t have to define yourself or just the fact that we all live on this spectrum of sexuality,” Vaccarino said.

For Axel and Vaccarino, the rise to stardom started as a “leap of faith.” The duo met while taking music classes at NYU. Between balancing day jobs and music, they raised the funds for a six-song EP on Kickstarter after their label folded.

Axel worked as an Apple store personal shopper, while Vaccarino was a personal assistant for a record label.

“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” Axel said.

Vaccarino can relate. The Port Charlotte native’s family lives in Coral Springs who will be in attendance at the Fontainebleau. Fans can expect a barrage of supers: crazy, energetic — and nerdy, because the guys like to poke fun at each other’s appearance (in this case, Axel’s).

“Chad likes to call me a nerd,” Axel said, citing his glasses and choice of attire.

Meanwhile, Vaccarino will be sure to take advantage of the venue… by partying. He is well aware of the popularity of LIV nightclub.

“I’m super excited about that,” he said. “[The Fontainebleau] is sort of like a legendary place.”

Oh, and do not expect any Super Bowl picks from the guys.

“I don’t even know what month we’re in,” Axel said.

Anthony Cave

Doors open at 8 p.m.; ticket packages, which include dinner, start at $175 a person and can be purchased from

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