by Jeff Niesel
When the Heavy finished their hour-long set last night at the House of Blues without playing their sole hit, “How You Like Me Now,” singer Kelvin Swaby taunted the audience. “Do you feel shortchanged,” he said as he returned for the encore that predictably would include the catchy single. It was really the most memorable moment in an otherwise dull show that suggested the garage soul band, which played to a half full house despite the fact that it was a free show sponsored by Miller Lite, isn’t much more than a one-hit wonder.
While you could make the same argument about the old school garage soul outfit Fitz and the Tantrums, that band has a superior live show that suggests it might be able to get more mileage out of what is clearly a temporary trend of mixing soul and rock. But for the Heavy, that isn’t the case. Swaby continually tried to provoke a response from the audience as he said things like “Cleveland is live tonight” and continually asked “Y’all having a good time tonight?” Toward the end of the set, he admitted that the next few songs would be of the “call and response” variety, and he was right. For each tune, he told patrons what to sing and then pointed the microphone their way for tunes such as “Curse Me Good” and “Big Bad Wolf,” the latter of which made good use of the underutilized horn section. Too bad the band didn’t make better use of the sharp-dressed horn players who were regulated to snapping their fingers and looking cool for most of the set, a sign that this group just doesn't know what direction to go in.
Lucero opened with a countrified punk set that struggled to seamlessly incorporate R&B horns. The band, however, satisfied a rowdy group of fans that sang the lyrics to every Springsteen-like anthem, particularly the set-closing “Tears Don’t Matter Much.”