LOHI Music Festival Pre-Party feat. The Heavy Pets 8.1.12

Highland Tap & Burger
Denver, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Carly Marthis
Audio By Ed Simon

The Highland Tap & Burger in Denver's Lower Highlands has played host to several impressive bands. Most recently, The Tap welcomed The Heavy Pets to Denver for this year's LOHI Music Festival and consequently The LOHI Music Festival Pre-Party. Opening the show would be acoustic opera act, Bryan Benner and that night folks would be charged for the first time since running music at The Tap. With the extra cost of the bands and gear, it was time to test the water. The 3:00 pm soundcheck revealed a few minor issues that were quickly resolved leading up to the show. The doors of the Tap opened and slowly people began to trickle in.

From the first few vocal notes of Bryan Benner's set I was taken aback. His booming operatic vocals coupled with his acoustic guitar and the lite vocals of Frederikke Talia soothed my soul. Families with children sat on the floor of the Tap as it began to fill in with folks who came to see The Pets. Bryan did a fantastic job of winning over The Pets' fans immediately with brilliant harmonies and song-writing. Folks looked on fixated on the rare sound that they had not typically chosen to surround themselves with. Half way through, the duo was joined by The Heavy Pets' drummer Jamie Newitt on Djembe. Through minor sound issues and an increasingly chatty crowd, the duo came to a close with an appreciative roar from the Denver crowd.

With the quick adjustment of a few XLR cables and a brief sound check, The Heavy Pets were ready to go. So too it seemed was the excitable crowd. The Highland Tap was packed and folks were still flooding in. The band began with fantastic output. Their clean groove and danceable sound brought the fans in close as more filled the back of the room. The guitar work of Jeff Lloyd & Mike Garulli was top notch, reflecting the approach and ability of someone much older than these two young gentleman. A few teases such at the Grateful Dead's "China Cat" showed faced and pleased the crowd. On key was Jim Wuest. His chops we monstrous and his solo frightening!

On the drums Jamie held it down with precision, fury and an acute attention to the shifting direction of the band's jams and compositions. Lastly, and maybe the most impressive member of the band, circumstantially speaking, was Tony D'Amato on bass. That evening would mark Tony's first gig as The Pets' newest member of the band. I watched Tony, knowing full well that it was his first show and yet I was unable to tell. Tony fit in perfectly and was the root of many low end jams and great moments.

At about the point when Pete Wall was called to the "stage," the show was sold out! A quick input issue fixed and Pete was live and killing it. Never had I seen the Tap so packed. It was clear that the Pets had a following in Denver and as the night got later more tickets/wristbands were released then sold out, several times over. the night was littered with a combination of rock, funk and jamtronica music, reflecting the range and development of this still young band.

The night was incredible across the board and was a great way to shift into high gear for LOHI Music Festival which would take place that following Saturday. i glanced over at Paul Brown (part owner of the Tap & LOHI promoter) who was dancing uncontrollably on a chair. Behind him was Juan Padro (Owner of the Tap & LOHI promoter) also on a chair pumping his fist with the rest of the patrons. It was a beautiful night foreshadowing an incredible event. To close the show, The Pets did two encores, the latter of the two with Pete. It was a party of epic proportions!

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