(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Concert review - Me and Heath

25 September 2011 (Hodi's Half Note, Ft. Collins CO)

Man, it must be awesome to be a rock star. Cruise into town with your crew, hang out at bars, and lay out some tunes for the adoring fans...earning big bucks along the way. Pretty much everybody who's ever toured is laughing cynically at this point. The guys in Me & Heath know the reality of cancelled gigs, long drives, odd venues, and small audiences. Sunday night at Hodi's Half Note was lightly attended, but that didn't keep the band from making the most of it and playing a couple of great sets.

It helped that they pulled some enthusiastic hometown fans. Front man TJ and guitarist Heath are both from Greeley. They moved out to Los Angeles, where they connected with the rest of the band. This tour through Loveland, Ft. Collins, and Denver is the first time they've made it back to Colorado in a few years. The band seemed happy to reconnect with old fans and meet some new ones. The show had good energy and the band spent most of their breaks out with the crowd.

With no opening act, Me & Heath played two full sets before wrapping up a little after midnight. Their music blended a number genres: laid back funky beats, soulful singing, strong indie rock grooves, and a little bit of rapping. With the exception of a small set of crowd pleaser covers, they focused on their original music, including the songs from their EP, 3X a Charm.

L.A. is a tough music scene and Me & Heath showed the kind of polish a band needs to compete there. TJ had a riveting stage personality as he played acoustic guitar and provided most of the vocals. He was in constant motion as he mugged for the crowd or threw himself fully into each song. His voice was a key part of their sound, with a touch of Michael Jackson soul and G. Love's funk. At the same time, his playing anchored the three guitar line up. He and Heath setup counter rhythm strums while Jaxon laid down lead. Other times, he let Heath and Jaxon both stretch out. Between songs, TJ came across as a class clown, generally keeping the mood light.

The rest of the band didn't surrender the stage to TJ, though. In particular, Jaxon's easy going banter meshed well with TJ and his lead work was solid with a little flash. The bass player, Nick, contrasted with other guys with his hair metal look and high attitude rock posing. But it added to the show and his bass playing was very strong, both up front on Wise Crack or supporting on Call Me Out. Aside from playing guitar, Heath laid down the occasional rap vocal. He had good flow and I'd like to hear them slip more of that into their mix.

Me and Heath had a sound that evoked Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, and even a bit of older Red Hot Chili Peppers, but the vocals were more rooted in the kind of tightly controlled, tense Michael Jackson soul. With a touch of rap to update the vibe, it was a good sound with enough room to fill out the two sets without getting stale.

More photos on my Flickr.

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