The Heavy Pets & Brothers Gow 1.19.17

Goodfoot Lounge
Portland, OR

Words & Photos By Mitch Melheim

It was a soggy night in Portland, the first after an unusual week of snow and below-freezing temperatures. San Diego’s Brothers Gow made their return to the city’s beloved Goodfoot Lounge along with Florida jam veterans The Heavy Pets who were making their Portland debut.

Brothers Gow fought off some vehicle troubles to make the show in time, unfortunately leaving their lighting designer Matt Collier behind with their stranded van in Olympia as the rest of the band drove a rented mini-van to the show. It’s rare that a band this size travels with a full-time lighting designer, but they take their presentation very seriously, something immediately apparent even without Collier’s lights as the band broke into choreographed dance moves at multiple times throughout their set.

The Gow sound comes with a lot of Umphrey’s McGee “improg” influence, but also contains rich elements of Reggae and Funk among other genres. Guitarists Kyle Merrill and Ethan Wade each provide an impressive ability to play lead, also sharing the vocals with keyboardist Alex Bastine whose nonchalant playing provides a solid foundation for the band to build upon.

The set jumped back and forth from groovy, to a dance party, to the in-your-face shredding you would expect from the Umphrey’s influenced jammers. Frequent use of the vocoder both by Merrill and Bastine proved to be effective and was used as tastefully as you can use a vocoder. The band invited local guitar hero Jimmy Russell of Quick & Easy Boys fame up for a set-closing cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” that emerged as one of the highlights of the night.

Florida quintet The Heavy Pets closed out the night and quickly acquainted themselves with the local crowd. Another band with two guitarists who can play the hell out of their instruments, this time Jeff Lloyd and Mike Garulli. The Pets pack a strong punch, but typically choose to display a more groove-oriented approach to their music.

Keyboardist Jim Wuest seems to be the most glaring personality in the band, sometimes providing lead vocals, but always blessing us with funny faces as he wails away on his organ. The band’s sound can change drastically depending on if Wuest is playing his organ or the keyboard he sets on top of it.

The Pets built a nice set, not giving away any surprises too early and building to a climactic finish that had those still left in the bar after 1:00 AM demanding one more song, which they got. I was glad to finally get the opportunity to see this band who has been a festival mainstay in the Southeast for years, seemingly adopting the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park as their home base. Teaming up with west coast up-and-comers Brothers Gow for this west coast tour was a good choice and seems to have at least won them over some fans in Portland.


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