The Heavy Pets with Litz
Live in Washington, DC – April 13, 2016
By Matthew Bowers • Photos by Jeff Myers
Festival season is right around the corner, and lots of bands are in the midst of spring touring and gearing up for a busy summer season. Two bands that will be very busy in the next few months brought their unique sounds to the Nation’s Capital for a mid week party that would not disappoint.
Starting the night off was the infectiously energetic up and coming band Litz. If you are into high energy funk grooves, wailing saxophone, and shredding guitar solos, then these guys have more than enough to get you moving. Hailing from Gaithersburg Maryland, these guys have been tearing up venues across the region and have rapidly made a name for themselves garnering a growing fan base around the area and beyond. They were the perfect opener to set the tone for the evening.
The band would take the opportunity to showcase their catalogue as they opted to play a set of all original songs. Fresh off the release of a new album, they had plenty of great material to work with and even debuted a brand new song called “cups.” They would lay down one funky song after another, all filled with fantastic grooves and loads of classic flavors that would appeal to any fan of funk, soul, or rock and roll. Frontman Austin Litz is a man of many talents as he switches off from keys to sax to flute. His two brothers Logan and Mike Litz are also in the band and make up the rhythm section along with percussionist Nick Thrasher and keys/sound effect guru Will Ess. Justin Robb is the blistering guitar player that provides the shred for this funky and unique sextet.
Taking full advantage of the time they were given, Litz got the crowd juiced up and ready to dance until the music stopped. A great way to start the night of awesome music, definitely keep an eye on Litz as they are bound to do some big things in the near future.
The Heavy Pets are a jam scene staple hailing from Florida formed in 2005. Blending funk and rock with a touch of jazz, reggae and deep grooves, these guys put on a great live show and will give anyone that loves to dance plenty of reasons to move their legs. The band is comprised of Jeff Lloyd and Mike Garulli on guitar/vocals, Jim Wuest on keys, and Jamie Newitt and Tony D’Amato on drums and bass.
With the crowd warmed up and ready for more music, The Pets delivered the goods. Taking their eclectic mix of songs and stretching them out with high energy jams was the theme of the night. They truly had a little bit of something for everyone as they would make their way from straightforward funk grooves to eye opening guitar peaks that put grins on the faces of everyone in the room.
With an impressive amount of material to pull from and a slew of fantastic covers, the Heavy Pets make excellent use of the very important unpredictability factor that makes jam shows so much fun and exciting. A personal highlight for me early in the set was a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” When this song is done well, it’s a dance party start to finish and the Pets did more than enough justice with their excellent rendition. That would just be the icing on the cake though, because the band had a few surprises left for the DC crowd.
Aside from the one cover, the rest of the set was original Heavy Pets songs played excellently. It’s really obvious when a band believes in the songs that they’re playing, and The Heavy Pets clearly love playing their own songs. It makes it so much easier for a band and crowd to feed off each other’s energy when both parties are having a great time doing what they’re doing. I was excited to hear one of my favorite Pets tunes “Jackie Bones” and they would take this version for a serious ride ending with a blistering guitar solo. Other standout songs of the set for me were great renditions of “Spin Round” and the funky “Keep Me Running.”
After a short encore break the crow would get treated to a great surprise. The band has been doing “The Walrus” shows that are all Beatles covers. The district crowd would get a taste of one of these performances as they would play not one, but two Beatles Covers. First of which was “I Am The Walrus” which is one of my personal favorites, so I was very happy to see them not only play it, but play it great. They would finish up with “A Day in The Life” which is of course a classic as most Beatles songs are, and the crowd was eating it up and singing along to every word. It was a very special way to end a great night of music on a Wednesday night in Washington DC. If you haven’t been lucky enough to catch either of these two bands in person yet, you should do yourself a favor and change that while you’re out seeing music this summer.
The Heavy Pets