On Feb. 29th, I didn’t have to go far catch this show. It was at Amici in Milledgeville GA. One of my favorite restaurants’s/ bars. This was a place for the Heavy Pets to play before the start of their west coast tour.
I had heard a lot about the band and was interested in hearing them play. They have made there rounds at many music festivals and have toured with several of my favorite bands, so this sounded like it was something that I couldn’t afford to miss being so close to home.
The band was tuning and setting up for the show, and you could tell that they were happy to be where they were. After a surprise show the night before at the famed Georgia Theater in Athens GA, they were still pumped and happy to be on tour and playing music. The lights were flashing and the sound checks were going well.
After playing in Athens, you could tell they were perfectly at home in Milledgeville (aka little Athens.) The crowd was starting to trickle in and they were ready for the music that was going to be played tonight.
They started a warm up song to get their sound check just right. The first thing that came to mind was that the sound was smooth and groovy. Everything was coming together, and as the vibrations and the rhythm from their instruments filled the air, you could tell that these guys were ready to rock.
The start of the show went very smoothly as they began their first set with an original tune that was funky and smooth. When this happened, the bar came to life with people smiling and moving to the music. These guys were in their element and the crowd definitely liked what they were hearing. The first few songs started off as body swaying groovy jams with a little reggae thrown into the mix.
The Music was flowing from them…then as the fourth song started, the whole band seemed to want a piece of the action, and they started to jam it out. The Jam was not what they had been playing before. This was very much rock n roll. The jam worked its way into an electronica thing, that turned into an instrumental jam of several songs that meshed so well, it was difficult to figure out the song that was being incorporated into the original before they were jamming their way into another song.
As soon as it began, it was over, and they were back into their original song they had started with and the whole band was loving it and just letting it go. It was one killer jam just working its way into the night. The crowd was really getting into it too. There were smiling faces and people were moving to the music.
For a Wednesday night, there were people piling into the door. The catchy tunes were floating out on to the street and the pedestrians on the sidewalks were being drawn in.
When they walked through the door, they knew what all of us on the inside already knew; this was the place to be tonight and there was no sign of it slowing down, these guys were rockin and the crowd was right there with them.
They were doing a little bit of everything. They even threw a bluegrass song into the mix. This showed me that the Heavy Pets are a very versatile group of talented musicians that can cover a wide range of music. They even had a segment of a song where they were free style raping that reminded me of Macumba which is a fan favorite of one of the bands that they have toured with in the past. The crowd was really getting into it and bobbin their heads and grinding with their hands in the air while the band scratched out the rap tune.
This didn’t seem like something that would have fit that type of crowd, or even the type of music that was being played, but it was placed perfectly and everyone loved it. It’s always great when a band can just take something so out-of-place and make it fit so smoothly.
Everyone was into the moment. It seemed the only thing that was going to stop this party tonight was the city ordinance that made every one close down and that’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately I have had my share of many a good time shut down by exactly what happened tonight but all good things come to a close. Sometimes laws get in the way of a good time, cause the band wasn’t ready to stop and the crowd was having a great time listing to them
To tell you the truth, I was really impressed with the original tunes that the band played for us. It was a really good feeling to listen to them play, and enjoy just taking in some music I have never heard before. Wondering where they were going with the song and not knowing. I was happy not knowing and just going along with it. It was a breath of fresh, funky original air.
I had a really good time experiencing this band. I had never heard them play before, but had no problem not knowing any of their material. The music that they play is very solid. It’s sounded good to my ears and it made my body move. When music is good and the environment matches, it brings out the best feeling to me and my senses seemed to be at heightened state. It seemed nothing could go wrong, being surrounded by good music, friends and, others who had at least the same love of music as I do.
Eventually the show ended and everyone made their way out into the night going home or to the after party. I stuck around and talked to several of the band members. I asked Jeff Lloyd (their front man) how he would categorize the music that he played, because I simply could not figure it out for myself. I told him from, what I had read on the bio that was provided on different web sites, that they were categorized as an American jam band, rhythm and blues, jazz-funk and reggae fusion with rock and roll. This is a really long string of words just to try to explain to someone who has never heard them play before. He said this is what he likes to describe his band…
“I think that we are a rock n roll band with a whole lot of weirdness. The audience vibe and the feeling we get from just playing at a venue determines how we play that show. I guess we just try to feel out the audience and play to how they feel. So I guess you could describe us as freedom rock.”
The next thing I asked was how long have the Heavy Pets been playing together.?
Officially the band has been together since 2005. Jeff said that he and Mike Garulli had been playing with each other since their teenage years and they never had a doubt that they were going to do anything else except play music. Even as a teenager he would go to see big venue concerts and he knew what he wanted to do with his life. Watching all those well-known bands play and to see all of the fans be so dedicated just made him want to do it more.
As the years went by, they would play with the same people and it was never said, but they all knew that they were a band and eventually they collectively had the whole band put together and they made the big relocation from up north to Fort Lauderdale. This was a big move for them. considering that they are all from New York state and surrounding areas.
After moving to FT.Lauderdale, the band incorporated a lot more reggae into their music. Being a band that is so close to the beach, it is somewhat expected. Reggae is a key component in their style of music now, and while it is not overpowering or the main type of music that they play, the band has found a nice way to incorporate it into many of their songs. This style gives it a distinct sound that, in the future, will definitely have a tell-tell sound that will allow me to recognize their music.
Asking Jeff the next question was a kind of fun one for me. Even though I kind of knew where the answer was going to gravitate toward I asked anyway. What kind of name it The Heavy Pets? Jeff kind of smiled and said,” it’s kind of connotation to a slightly dirty euphemism.” That all he had to say about that.
Talking to Jeff was easy and flowed very smoothly. It seemed that everyone in the band was in a great mood after the show. They had just rocked the house, and they knew it, but didn’t have a big head about it. They all just seemed to be really nice guys who loved to play music.
I asked Jeff, what was the most fun show that he has ever played. Jeff responded…
“It’s really hard to just to single out a show that just stands out on its own. That question is like having to choose your favorite child. I can’t just choose. I guess it just depends. We do our best every time we practice and when we get to a show we do our best to make it absolutely the best show we can. We just have faith and trust in each other to do our best and that is what I feel is making us better every time we play. To answer the your question though, Jam Cruse was really great this year. Being on the ship with what seemed to me as professional fans was just awesome. The fans on the ship were just great. They love the music and they get down so hard it’s unbelievable. Everyone plays so hard and the fans try to make all the shows it was just so much fun.”
Their year has just started and they play about one hundred and seventy shows a year with the combination of music festivals and other venues. So there is nothing small about this band. They tour all over the place and the chance is that they will be coming to a place near you. I think these guys are well on their way. They already have 30 dates for the west coast tour and the day before this show they added 24 other dates that will take place in or after that tour.
At the moment, they are self-producing a record with all originals and already have three others albums. Their web site has several original songs and has their bio if you would like to learn more about them and listen to some good original music.
So, if you get the chance I would highly recommend catching The Heavy Pets if they are in the area or at a music festival that you are attending.