The Heavy Pets | 11.02.07 | Philly

Words by: B. Getz

The Heavy Pets :: 11.02.07 :: The M Room :: Philadelphia, PA

Jeff Lloyd - The Heavy Pets
After a few months of anticipation, a double-album release and the buzz of countless recommendations, South Florida's The Heavy Pets returned to Philadelphia. On a chilly early November Friday just after Halloween, this new sensation dropped in on another Northeast jaunt. Last visit they rocked out Olde-City haunt Kyber Pass, a crusty room that smells of stale beer and plays home to mostly hard rock and punk bands. That show was one to remember for various reasons, not the least of which was memorable jams and good vibes from a band I had not yet grown familiar with.

I had delved deeply into the band's debut record Whale, an ambitious double album, subsequent to their late summer Kyber show and was much more familiar with the tunes and style of this throwback group this time around. Throwback? I say that because this is a jam band, first and foremost, as Dennis Cook aptly described in his Whale review. These complete trappings of clichéd jam band wankery initially rubbed me the wrong way. I, like many, have moved away from the cookie-cutter jam band mold after a certain favorite group broke up just over three years ago. Nothing else of that nature has really struck my fancy, and in the beginning The Heavy Pets did not either.

However, good music is good music. Beyond the labels and genres, and certainly beyond message board tomfoolery, The Heavy Pets are in essence wearing their passions and idols on their sleeves. I began to embrace that ethos as the people over at Brotherly Love/Jason Abrams Productions went the extra mile to bring this new buzz band back to Philly despite the lack of a guaranteed packed room.

Joe Dupell - The Heavy Pets
The Heavy Pets returned to the strangely named The M Room (Manhattan Room), located in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, a blue-collar neighborhood not far from The Wire-like corners I used to visit in darker times. A strange feeling came over me when I returned to this neighborhood; however, all was relieved when I met up at the bar with the many Pets-fanatics from Florida and upstate New York (the grounds where this band came of age). And the good feeling only grew when they took the stage around 10 p.m. Taper Steve was in full effect, and even the bar adjacent to the music area was hoppin'. We were on our way to a raucous, fun-filled evening featuring the newfound glory of The Heavy Pets.

A recent Relix feature on the group had also piqued my curiosity, making me wonder if I was somehow missing something. The rave reviews all over the net and from friends who worshipped at the same Green Mountain altar I once did had to hold some water. Indeed they did. After much prodding, sometimes blind allegiance to a band can seem annoying if you do not feel that group is on any sort of serious level. Yet, when the Pets started playing in Philadelphia an innocence and passion shone through. I no longer rejected their steez and style, but welcomed it as a familiar breath. Sure, there was no new ground covered this evening, and many of the songs and sounds hark back to that favorite jam band of yesteryear, right down to the Languedoc-like guitar tones of Jeff Lloyd. Yet, the lack of pretension and the Pets' joyous, unadulterated love of performing were at the forefront all night. The band was a machine, reeling off raging rockers, reggae-lite and some choice serenity. Songs I enjoyed and were well received by the ever-housequaking audience included "Off the Rails," "Pleasure Tank" and my personal fave, "Help Me Help You," their most fully-realized, well-written song with choice, exciting jam elements and an undeniable hook.

Jim Wuest - The Heavy Pets
Despite a penchant for Trey-like guitar dynamics, Lloyd was a riveting performer and the undisputed leader on stage. His voice cracked in beautiful ways throughout the gig – again, the innocence factor rising to the top, naked for us to revel in. His guitar playing is invigorated and machine-gun-like at times and tastefully sloppy in that Neil Young sort of way at others. Conversely, the other guitarist, Mike Genius, was a technician tapping, shredding, cutting and carving intricate rhythm lines. The unsung hero of this band is keyboard player Jim Wuest, whose jazzy chops and shit eating grin make the band and performance more diverse and well rounded. His lounge-y organ runs and bright piano led the way for "Lloyd Gigs" to get his thing on proper. It was cool to see a band embrace the fearsome foursome, paying homage to a now historical group so many loved.

On the other hand, The Pets are damn near robbing some ideas, passages and whole lot of style from the Vermonsters, and paying homage can become biting after a while. These boys can write a song and have a boatload of talent. I sincerely hope they begin to find their own voice. Then, the sky is the limit for this dedicated bunch.

Yet, like any show, it was not all peaches and regalia. Drummer Ryan Neuberger seemed a bit out of place in this setting, a far cry from his tasteful, humble (read: well produced, mixed and engineered) playing throughout Whale. The acoustics at the M-Room left something to be desired, but that was partially alleviated by the incredible crowd and the cool vibe that permeated the venue. The Pets did their best to put on a banging two-set show. They are not yet where they want to be, and certainly fall victim to countless jam band clichés. However, The Heavy Pets are not anything to sneeze at. They wear their ambition tattooed on their sleeve, and the sheer elation when they lock in, and dare I say, jam out is worth looking past any growing pains.

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http://www.theheavypets.com/

[Published on: 11/16/07]

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Comments

agreencinci Fri 11/16/2007 03:44PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Way to go Pets! Keep doing what your doing!

DelrayChris starstarstarstar Sat 11/17/2007 06:33AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

DelrayChris

For those who have never caught these guys, it's worth your while...great combination of rock, funk, reggae and trance. They can sing and jam equally well...rock on!

Behold starstarstar Sat 11/17/2007 12:35PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Behold

Nice article. I think it would be more helpful if the author had knowledge of more guitarists than just Trey Anastasio and Neil Young. Obviously, Jeff Lloyd is influenced by Trey. We all know that. No matter how much of Lloyd's playing sets him apart from Trey, a critic will always point out how much THP reminds him of the glory days of Phish, days that some people just can't seem to think about without putting up that unwarranted filter: "No jam band can ever do what they did."

But to say these guys are biting from Phish? Are some people really under the delusion that Phish was all that original? Is it that difficult to realize that, when two bands have similar influences (classic rock, progressive, jazz, funk, reggae), they'll probably end up having some similarities? If you listen to Whale, and you know anything about the history of music in America, you'll hear a variety of American folk, rock, and jazz influence... styles that predated and, yes, also influenced Phish.

Let's just admit that it's possible to fall in love with a band for a number of reasons: the sound, the scene, the on-stage antics, the album production, the lyrics, the variety. And one could fall so in love with this band that it becomes a sort of idolatry. That's what happened with a lot of Phish fans that I know. I loved the band, but my world wasn't rocked when I heard they were finally breaking up. Sure, I thought to myself, "That's a bit stupid. Why make such a definite statement? Why not leave open the possibility of a future reunion?" But I didn't react the way a lot of people did, living in denial of the fact that any jam band to come after Phish could possibly rival, or even surpass, some of their predecessors greatest endeavors.

That being said, The Heavy Pets do get a lot of credit for the variety of their songwriting. A lot of jam bands feel the need to mix things up -- rock, funk-rock, jazz-funk, jazz-rock, rock-funk, reggae-funk, etc. But even certain legendary jam bands, when they played a song outside their usual, illusory boundaries of style, would play them only pretty well. They knew they could sacrifice authenticity for novelty. The Pets, on the other hand, face a much more critical crowd, and they wouldn't attempt to pull off jazz or reggae if they weren't confident of themselves. They know, after years of practice, education, and training, that in order to play funk, you can't just mimick a James Brown chord over a "funky" rock beat. They don't just half-ass a song thinking that loyal fans will find it fun and amusing. Maybe, a few hundred thousand fans later, they will choose to do so. But, for now, they're playing tightly, cleanly, all across the map of their extremely varying influences. Not with covers, mind you, but with original songs they have written in the style of... whomever.

And how about that guy who came up on stage during the first set and sang an incredible tune, I believe it was called "Keep the Police Away"... man was that sick or what? That right there proves that the band can switch from authentic jazz to authentic reggae in a matter of seconds, without missing a beat. And it's not like Lloyd, M. Genius, or Wuest couldn't have pulled off the vocals for that song, but... damn that guy was good, whoever he was.

B. Hold

Chaloupka Sun 11/18/2007 04:57PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Chaloupka

Cliched jam band wankery. That's funny shit!

Bowman starstarstarstar Mon 11/19/2007 10:10AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Bowman

Pets always bring the heat. Can't wait for Langerado 2008!!!!!

toestothenose starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/20/2007 06:20AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

toestothenose

Getz - Nice read man - great to see an article from you on here!

Cheers,

Jake

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstar Thu 11/22/2007 08:26AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

trey was influenced by carlos santana and frank zappa. mostly.

I wish to see this band. can someone suggest a cool show for downloads??

O1Roggae starstar Thu 11/22/2007 04:41PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

O1Roggae

Download the Cypress Spook Jam show from last year when they played with Big Meat from putnam, CT. Sick show non-stop jamming. Love these guys. Pleasure Tank was the song that got me into these guys. By the way if any of you are from SW FL or live in the Miami/pompano/W. Palm area you should definitely come down to the Skunkape Farm party on Nov. 24 this saturday.Live music inc. CrazyFingers, Terry Catlin, and The Wheel tix. $25.oo incl. camping. Fun time great vibes. for info go to crazyfingers.net