LIVE REVIEW: The Heavy @ The Independent 11/8
“Are there any wolves here tonight?”
“AAAWWWOOOOOOOO!!!” This is the famous call and response between The Heavy’s charismatic lead singer, Kelvin Swaby and fans of the band, and by the amount of howling from the audience it was clear that The Independent was definitely filled with wolves Monday night. Despite the cold and impending rain, San Francisco rallied for The Heavy, even showing up early to catch the local disco rockers – Wallpaper.
The show started a bit late for a Monday night. This was most likely to allow the floor to fill up with fans before opening act, Wallpaper, took the stage. The Bay Area funky disco-rock duo got the crowd warmed up both literally and figuratively. People couldn’t help shaking their booties a little as the group danced, wiggled, and rocked their way through a solid set which included a drum troupe that added a great afrobeat vibe to the already danceable music.
The Heavy didn’t make fans wait long before strutting on stage as the crowd cheered and even howled without being prompted. The band kicked right into a set of songs from their latest album The House That Dirt Built and immediately had the crowd jumping and dancing. Lead singer, Kelvin Swaby, danced around stage non stop, shaking his hips and playing to the largely female audience. He would point seductively to the ladies in the crowd and even dip down to the front of the stage and mingle with some of the lucky few at the front.
Swaby’s onstage persona blends perfectly with the group’s neo-soul style. They are what an indie label would churn out if it was owned and operated by James Brown. The Heavy pump out a great retro sound without being a revival band; they are something new, something exciting.
Like a true soul band, The Heavy mixed their set up with slow sensual jams that built and swelled into their faster, dance-rock anthems, keeping the crowd moving the entire time. They closed out the show with an encore of their commercially successful “How You Like Me Now?” which Swaby performed shirtless to the delight of the ladies and then hurled himself into the crowd to dance with his fans.
Neo-soul has been on the upswing lately with groups like The Heavy and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The style walks a fine line of being a retro gimmick, but bands like The Heavy pull it off with style and class. It’s a genre that brings fans back to the old days while simultaneously offering a new, fun experience.