As their name suggests, DC rockers Little Bigheart and the Wilderbeast is all about the chaos and juxtaposition of colliding influences. Attempts to classify their sound with a one-size-fits-all genre are futile; from freak folk to progressive rock, Little Bigheart distills the disparate influences of its four members into something soulful and vital.
At a recent gig at the Velvet Lounge, the band’s surprisingly robust sound was on full display. Bryn Bellomy (bass/keys/samples), Russell Joye (drums), Patrick Mulroy (guitar), and John Russell (guitar) cover a lot of sonic real estate while staying cohesive. Bellomy, Mulroy, and Russell share vocal duties, belting our three-part harmonies and soaring, theatrical melodies. Each brings a different character to the vocal sound: Bellomy’s is breathy and falsetto, Mulroy’s soulful and gravelly, Russell’s earnest and crisp. And while they don’t always nail the harmonies, they leave it all on the stage, like any rough-around-the-edges rockers worth their salt.
The band’s set kicked off with the four-part suite on their concept EP The Assassination of Julius Caesar and its Barbarous Aftermath. Little Bigheart moves from mournful Americana to funky, Thin Lizzy riffage and back again. Complete with epic lyrics (retelling the fall of the Roman Republic), the performance of the EP resembled a jam session, anchored by Roye’s steady, behind the beat drumming. However, the band sidesteps the pretension that usually accompanies prog rock or jam bands, and the medley simply rocks for 13 minutes.
Little Bigheart’s songs are well crafted, and again, while most feature some soloing, it isn’t unnecessary noodling: the band puts the song over the solo. Standouts in the set included “Little Boat,” a rollicking crowd-pleaser, and “Metropolis,” which alternates between throwback hard rock and a worldbeat jam, a la Vampire Weekend. Playing for a crowd of fans, friends, and family, Little Bigheart put on an impressive show and left the crowd wanting more.
Catch Little Bigheart and the Wilderbeast at DC9 on Wednesday, March 17 for a show that promises to be experimental but soulful, with something for fans of honest rock music of all flavors. This is definitely a band to watch in the DC scene.
“The Assassination of Julius Caesar and its Barbarous Aftermath, pts. I-IV”
“When I Went Down”