Heavyball at The Garage
Dark, sparsely occupied, and delightfully air-conditioned, The Garage (just a few paces from Highbury & Islington station) is the perfect venue to receive a burgeoning band and its audience on a warm summer’s evening. Born in Nottingham but based in the capital, Heavyball kicks off its mini UK tour with the headlining show in North London. A self-proclaimed “hard-rocking ‘new tone’ band”, the four-piece clearly owes much of its sound to the 2 tone and ska punk movements of yesteryear, despite being void of any upright bass or brass instruments.
Filing in on a small platform unhindered by wings or a backstage, the band starts without introduction, simply a resonant plunge into one of its better-known tunes. Based on the explosive start, the show is expected to be an energetic dance fest, inviting to their feet even those unfamiliar with the former support act to the Kaiser Chiefs. Regrettably, either due to a modest repertoire of recorded material or a rigid setlist, Heavyball completely misreads the crowd and struggles to carry momentum from start to finish. The audience dwindles to a single layer halfway through the 45-minute set, swelling softly again during the closing songs.
The band sweeps through its discography, dispersing all the upbeat crowd-pleasers, such as Hands Up and Lost Heroes, which are interspersed with slower tempos and new material. Frontman Matt Salisbury provides solid vocals throughout, while Tom Frost on lead guitar dominates numerous extended measures to showcase his nimble finger work. Instead of the perpetual cheerfulness emanating from their EPs, Salisbury and company perform certain songs (most notably Smalltown Boy) with faint shades of anguish, offering two-dimensional renditions of their recorded counterparts. The only factors working against the unmistakable cohesion of the group are a few poorly-managed decisions from the sound booth.
Their songs are undeniably inclined to flapping arms and flailing kicks, so it’s a wonder that Heavyball is unsuccessful at inducing more than feet shuffling, save for the much-anticipated finale, Black Eye Friday. Once the after-work drinkers in their suits depart, the audience is reduced to a number of devotees who are still too shy to take advantage of the extra space. In a few years, with proper sound mixing and an expanded track list, Heavyball will be the act to catch for feel-good, near-hazardous dancing.
For further information about Heavyball and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Black Eye Friday here: