What better way for one of the UK’s most exhilarating up-and-coming acts to get familiar with urban America than to spend a couple days exploring the nooks and crannies of Charm City?
An exhilarating psychedelic rock band with a distinct throwback sound, The Heavy Heavy made its anticipated Baltimore debut last week, but the Brighton-based group arrived a night early and had plenty of time to take it all in before entertaining a packed The 8×10 in Federal Hill on a recent weeknight.
Led by the singing-songwriting duo of Will Turner and Georgie Fuller, The Heavy Heavy took the stage on April 26 with a sense of confidence and a comfort in their temporary surroundings, and the band exceeded expectations by way of a soulful, stimulating set of the multi-colored songs that have launched it onto a skyrocketing trajectory.
The night began in fabulous fashion as “All of My Dreams” hearkened to the catapulting, kaleidoscopic sounds that more veteran listeners grew up with thanks to the wave(s) of psychedelic bands that became symbolic of their times.
Listen to the recently released expanded version of The Heavy Heavy’s premiere EP Life and Life Only via Spotify:
Riding unrestrained rhythms that manifested, grew and were then lifted by Will’s and Georgie’s astonishing co-joined harmonies, The Heavy Heavy leveraged this standout from the summer 2022 premiere EP, Life and Life Only, to establish an aura of illusion and introspection. And by setting just the right mood, the group would flourish across an impressive batch of original songs and a few incredible covers, too.
“Baltimore! How are we feeling?” Georgie lit up, a thick accent making her expression that much more delightful. Roses — plastic but still plenty festive — decorated the mic stands. “We’ve been waiting for you. We’ve been on road for, gosh it’s been eight weeks now, and we’ve been bloody waiting for you Baltimore!”
Cheers from both levels confirmed this mid-week crowd had also looked forward to this date at The 8×10.
“We’ve been soaking it in, living a bit of the Baltimore life,” Georgie said, detailing some of the band’s activities, including a visit to a well-known local seafood restaurant, where some of the band members enjoyed mussels for the first time.
The playful, close-knit vibe of the band translated to rich, energetic takes on tracks featured on Life and Life Only and its extended digital version, which just dropped in March.
“Man of the Hills” and “Why Don’t You Call?”, both featured on the physical album, were each expanded in live form at The 8×10 with a unique, holy abundance achieved again through hallowed group vocals and swirling, lushly textured instrumentation.
Watch The Heavy Heavy perform the track “Go Down River” for the Karma Sessions via YouTube:
Touring as a five-piece outfit, Will and Georgie were accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Frank Fogden, bassist Tom Holder and drummer (and videographer) Houston Mathews, and this fun-loving team looked every bit like a band on the rise and one that will no doubt have reason to tour the states again.
Shedding some light on a modern-day influence — and a local hero, no less — The Heavy Heavy served up an expressive rendition of “Real Love Baby,” originally penned by Father John Misty. This track oscillated through the organ and dripped with guitar motifs, and it saw the whole venue singing along in a striking reminder of how glorious live music can be in the narrow two-floor venue with a remarkable history of its own.
“Go Down River” is one of the most inviting, buoyant pieces from The Heavy Heavy thus far, and its warm and endearing words — “time flies babe, I’m still your man” — translated to a rewarding presentation for the Fed Hill audience.
With a cover of “Lonesome L.A. Cowboy,” the band showed more of its range while still pulling from a particularly prismatic and in this case crunchy breed of music from decades past. Later in the night, Will would share that one of the only known groups to previously perform this classic track on The 8×10 stage was none other than the legendary band that wrote the song — The New Riders of the Purple Sage.
“We’re in the process of writing our debut full-length album,” Fuller told the room. “So would you mind if we tried some out on you?”
At a venue that reminds patrons to “trust in the music” by way of a message printed on their entrance bracelet, there were of course no objections.
Some of those fresh tracks included a wordless blast titled “Parakeets” that utilized the ambition and skills of these players to concoct a mind-blowing, body-moving exhibition. And “Dirt,” a chugging, downright nasty jam, saw Georgie glowing and her pipes at their most gorgeous as she led this piece like a world-class entertainer. She used the tambourine, maracas or controlled the organ, a key piece of the equation for this stylishly tripped out ensemble.
Watch the official music video for The Heavy Heavy single “Miles And Miles” via the band’s YouTube channel:
And with a thick foundation put in place by Harder, beats powered by Mathews and Fogden teaming with Turner to make this one of the bluesiest affairs of the night, the track titled “Everything” showed what a splendid band this is at such an early stage.
“The good people of Baltimore!” Georgia was terrific in between songs and especially down the backstretch of the set, which included some of the tracks from the new expanded edition of the EP.
“Eat the crabs not the mussels!” someone shouted as the band settled back in for an encore, honest, helpful advice that was better off shared than left bottled up.
The Heavy Heavy closed out a memorable Baltimore trip with a two-song encore, including the zooming and winsome endeavor “Miles And Miles” that has already become an established favorite.
With stirring, vintage compositions that are quickly attracting attention of a wide range of listeners, The Heavy Heavy showed this past week in Baltimore that it is indeed a band with the flair, the cohesiveness and the vision to keep building on the success its members have experienced thus far.
The Heavy Heavy Setlist
All My Dreams
Man of the Hills
Why Don’t You Call?
Real Love Baby (Father John Misty cover)
Go Down River
Lonesome LA Cowboy (New Riders of the Purple Sage cover)
All I Need
Sleeping on Grassy Ground
(Jam) One of a Kind
Miles & Miles
Way Out West
Shane Guerrette setlist
How Was I
Here are images of The Heavy Heavy along with the night’s opening act, Shane Guerrette, performing at The 8×10 in Baltimore the night of April 26, 2023. All photos copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock.