Let Me Entertain You: The Heavy with Earl Greyhound & The Cobbs @ World Cafe Live 1.15.10

George Carlin had a line about burping and tasting a hot dog you had two days ago.  A similar thing can be said about concerts that leave an unfaltering ringing in your ears long after the last encore was taken.  This triple-billed monster of a concert was that kind of show.  The three bands weren’t entirely alike in their musical styles, but the one thing each of them had was volume.  Ears be damned, this was going to be a real rock show.

The first band on was Philadelphia’s own The Cobbs, whose power-pop melodicism was slightly overshadowed by their amplifiers’ ungainly gains.  The band showed off some of their new material, although the show’s later-than-usual start time meant that most of the audience hadn’t arrived yet and would probably get to World Cafe Live just in time to see the headliner.  Such is the plight of the first opening band, but The Cobbs played it well.

Next was the fiery Brooklyn trio Earl Greyhound.  While not always poppy, the band earned their loudness through churning guitar riffs and quasi-metal song structures.  Playing songs from their Soft Targets album, including the epic “Monkey” and their signature song, “S.O.S.,” Earl Greyhound’s co-lead singers managed to make themselves heard over the unrelenting rumble of their instruments.  It seemed as though this band was going to turn out to be heavier than The Heavy themselves, but the main attraction brought their own kind of attitude that would make them stand out as the night’s true stars.

A good indication of how active a lead singer is going to be is whether or not he plays an instrument.  Seeing as how Kelvin Swaby doesn’t, he was free to roam about the stage, strutting and grooving to his band’s inimitable fusion of funk, garage and soul.  Since they lacked a horn section or keyboard player, drummer Chris Ellul cued up brass- and sample-laden sequences from a laptop next to his kit.  The setlist gave equal time to both of the band’s albums, and left plenty of space for expansions of songs and motifs.  As a result, Great Vengeance & Furious Fire‘s semi-spoken word piece, “Girl,” ended with a few choruses of “All Day And All Of The Night.”  The band’s reverence for the primal days of rock ‘n’ roll didn’t stop there, as “Sixteen,” one of the best songs from The House That Dirt Built, got the crowd into a frenzy with its falsetto refrain and thudding, “I Put A Spell On You” backbeat.  The Heavy showed off their versatility with some reggae on “Cause For Alarm,” and blues rock on “What You Want Me To Do?” and “No Time.”  The one song that was possibly new (just because it isn’t on either album) was “Big Bad Wolf,” a truly big and badass call-and-response that got the audience quite enthused.  As loud as they were, The Heavy were never so loud that the fun and liveliness of their songs was diluted.  The Heavy put on the kind of show that too few bands do: the kind where everyone in the place, band and audience alike, has fun.  As they closed out the night with “How You Like Me Now?,” the answer was an easy one.

Click the picture above to see more pictures of The Heavy, Earl Greyhound and The Cobbs in concert!!

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~ by E. on January 19, 2010.

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