The Heavy

Bootleg Theater


Last night under the watchful gaze of the half moon, a line stretched down Beverly Blvd. outside of the Bootleg Theater. The street lamps flickered in the warm summer air and the curious cockroaches scuttled across the pavement, to the consternation of the well-groomed crowd trying to get in.

The crowd could barely fit inside the confines of the theater, a small room lined with red velvet curtains and a stage that took up a quarter of the floor. Getting to the bar required acts of brutal elbowing and patience because there was no room to form a line, so it was every person for herself out there. The floor was inexplicably littered with bar stools allowing people who sat on them to see nothing and others to trip on them. After two hours of standing around with very little ventilation, the room was sweltering.

This might sound crazy but, the unbearable closeness and heat of the room seemed to be right where The Heavy wanted us for their grand entrance. By the time the band from Noid (yes, Noid) England had strolled up the stairs to the stage, the audience were hot, bothered, and desperately wanted to dance (or get into a fight). Lead singer Kevin Swaby wasted no time with introductions. He grabbed the microphone, pushed the stand out of the way, and launched into “Can't Play Dead.”

Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy; Credit: Molly Bergen

Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy; Credit: Molly Bergen

Bounding across the stage, Swaby never stayed still. Back and forth, back and forth he paced, making sure that every single person in the place knew that this song was about them. Whether it was leaping in the air during a chorus or crouching down at the front making sure the fans knew they were appreciated, Swaby owned that crowd. “You fuckers are trying to kill me up here!” he grinned as his crisp white button down was soon discarded in favor of the black tank top underneath. Even the dreaded call and response had full participation by this crowd. Tipping their heads back, they sang every word that Swaby fed them with full throated approval.

The Heavy are quite good at stripping away all sense of decorum. You could blame it on the Dirty Three (their horn section) or Chris Ellul's savage beats or Spencer Page's slinky, hip shaking bass or Daniel Taylor's hair raising guitar solos. But for my money it's the lyrics that really make people lose their minds. It's damn near impossible to sing “All I know is she's got to go. I ain't taking this shit no more,” without a wave of pride swelling in your chest.

And the audience was not just sitting on their heels waiting for the Heavy to play their monster hit “How Do You Like Me Now” which was in every movie/car commercial in 2011. They enjoyed singing along to everything. Why? Because The Heavy write lyrics that sting. They put a swagger in your step. Don't believe me? Try singing along to “Girl” without a self assured smirk curling on your lips.

Personal bias: I like anything with a horn section.

Random Notebook Dump: No way! Is that guy wearing a rape whistle? Oh, it's a cross.

Overheard in the crowd: A story about how a guy named Tom “partied” in his wife's hospital room while she was giving birth.

Set list

Set list; Credit: Molly Bergen

Set list; Credit: Molly Bergen

LA Weekly