11/22 at Baltimore Soundstage
written by Andrew Brown
On Friday, November, 22nd, a brand new jam band supergroup, Incidental Animals, came to the Baltimore Inner Harbor venue Baltimore Soundstage for their third full performance as a band. The inception of Incidental Animals came about through a proposal from Mike Greenhaus, of Relix Magazine, to members of ALO to play at his upcoming wedding. With Zach Gill away on tour with Jack Johnson, Steve Adams (Bass), Dave Brogan (Drums), and Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz (Guitar) of ALO teamed up with Kyle Hollingsworth (Keyboard) of String Cheese Incident and Jen Hartswick (Trumpet/Vocals) of Trey Anastasio Band for a night made for memories.
Baltimore Soundstage is a single level music venue with the stage positioned in the center, a gaping wide open dance floor and room for drink mingling in the back. To be honest it’s not the most exciting venue in the world, but they book very good bands to play. For that, we here in Baltimore are thankful. As the festivities began, music enthusiasts of all age ranges filled the venue. This fact alone filled my love light in seeing how truly heart felt music can traverse generations and bring the lot of us together. The night commenced with a riveting performance by the Florida based band The Heavy Pets. Their sound, as self-described, is a mixture of “rhythm & blues, jazz-funk, nu-disco and reggae-fusion with rock & roll” and all of these ingredients were present in force. I was personally excited to see them perform, as I had not seen them since they played along side their van among tent city at All Good in 2010. Their new album, “The Two Horses”, was released on October 1st of this year and this showing was a great chance to see how the band has sonically progressed over the past few years. Their set was a fluid emotional roller coaster. Seamlessly blending sounds that one could float on top of, while laying down hard, steady grooves that set dance feet a flaring. The performance profoundly demonstrated a professional, tight knit band who have an extreme passion for live music.
The Heavy Pets
As the Heavy Pets ended their set strongly, all anticipation was focused on the five incredibly talented individuals set to hit the stage. Being of a younger generation, I was never able to experience the live evolution of music throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Frankly, I also missed a good portion of the birth of String Cheese and ALO. This one night was like the Great American Song Book that I would have wrote. The setlist put fourth by the band was based off of a system where each member got to choose about four songs each for the band to play. These included such covers as “Taxman” by the Beatles, “Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston, and “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder, which gave me a chance to live out these songs played so beautifully and professionally as if for the first time. The best way to honestly describe the sonic progression of the evening, although romantically so, is akin to a musical time machine. The cover that I found to be absolutely phenomenal was Incidental Animals’ cover of “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin, with the beautiful, sultry voice of Jen Hartswick filling the room with love and soul. Straight up and down, no filter SOUL. I mean, that woman is a powerhouse.
Also featured, were wonderful renditions of songs performed by each of the members individual bands. Songs that included “Let’s Go Outside” and “Can’t Wait Another Day” by String Cheese Incident and “Lady Loop” by ALO. The end to the official set, before an encore of “Shake Your Booty” by KC & the Sunshine Band, was a “Lady Loop”>”Will It Go Round In Circles”>”Lady Loop” sandwich. It was a delight to see that every member of the band sang in at least one tune. It gave the band a closer sense of unity within their stage presence. In euphorically reminiscing over each transition though, the jubilance of the night reached it’s peak, in my opinion, when it felt as though every soul in the building was singing “Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff with the band. It felt like that communal family moment in which everyone is there just to lift the spirits of the human being next to them. I live for those moments, no matter where you find them.
It was an honor and an amazing experience to be able to witness these five brilliantly talented, loving individuals come together in honest musical experimentation. I can only imagine that the wedding they are set to perform at is going to be a dream wedding, to say the least. I mean, could you imagine?!? When we here at Appalachian Jamwich last spoke to bassist Steve Adams, he expressed hope in creating original Incidental Animals material in the future, stating “When we first proposed this to everybody, and we were looking on deciding to do it, I think we all were wanting to set aside a few days or a week or whatever to just meet up, hang out, and write music possibly….So yeah, I hope we can do something like that because I think that’s important to actually becoming a real band.” We can only hope that another future incident is in store for us all.
Setlist from my notes:
Let’s Go Outside
Piece of My Heart
Listen to the River
Walls of Jericho
Wasting Time pt. 1
I’m Always in Love
I Wanna Feel It
Can’t Wait Another Day
Harder They Come
Lady Loop >
Will It Go Round In Circles billy Preston
Shake Your Booty (w/ The Heavy Pets)