The Heavy Pets, Sullivan Hall, New York, NY – 9/11
Photo by Mark Dershowitz
Transplants from New York to Florida, the Heavy Pets meld the northeastern work ethic with the laid back party vibe of the Southeast. The band has matured over the years and now stands out as one of the harder working acts on the live music circuit today, resulting in a great turnout for their recent show at Sullivan Hall.
The Heavy Pets have been touring up and down the east coast in support of their second full length album, a self-titled follow up to their 2007 release Whale. The new songs bring back the classic, old school, improvisational rock sound while venturing beyond the jamband realm.
The Pets went on late night around 12:00 am, and kicked things off with the bass heavy reggae tune “No More Time.” This was a great way to chill everyone out and ease into the night. The band followed with “Sigsmondi” and “3 am,” an anthemic rock song with touches of ska and reggae. The light show at Sullivan Hall was in full force, and the The Pets’ synchronized vocals were on point.
The next reggae wave came with “Keep the Policeman Away,” a catchy song which recites its humorous title repeatedly, reminiscent of Phish’s “Makisupa Policeman.” Michael Kammers of Brooklyn’s MK Groove Orchestra came out and joined The Pets on tenor sax, adding a loud, funky element and remained on stage for the rest of the night. At times the keyboards were made to sound like a trumpet, complementing and enhancing Kammers’s sax. The catchy tune “Jackie Bones,” a song about guitar player Jeff Lloyd’s dog got the whole crowd dancing excitedly. The song has lighthearted and creative lyrics, a style that runs through many of the Heavy Pets’ tunes. Highlights of the night were the melodic and virtuosic bass solo by Justin Carney and some epic dual lead guitar work, including great usage of a Crybaby Wah-wah pedal.
This show was one of the better times I have had at Sullivan Hall. The music was top notch and there was a vibrant community surrounding the band. The Heavy Pets played straight through the night into the early morning hours. A Saturday night in the West Village is like the blues song “Deep Elem” and The Pets held their own in the heart of the city. I truly believe the Heavy Pets are a band with enough talent and charisma to carry the torch for improvisational music into the next generation and possibly into the mainstream as well.