The State Theatre was packed to the brim on April 2 as concertgoers buzzed with anticipation for a live show by indie-folk band The Head and the Heart. Hailing from Seattle, the sextet formed in 2009 and released its first album, “The Head and the Heart,” to rave reviews in 2011. The group’s self-titled first LP was followed with its second album, “Let’s Be Still,” in 2013. The Head and the Heart has garnered an impressive following of people from all over the world who have fallen in love with the band’s heartfelt, feel-good music.
As the lights flashed in the theatre just around 8 p.m., the excitement for what lay ahead was palpable. Moments later, opener Basia Bulat took the stage. The charming Canadian folk singer-songwriter bounded over to the microphone, clad with a ukulele, and jumped right into her set with no detectable nervousness or hesitation. Bulat put on an energetic and enjoyable show; the audience seemed head over heels by the time she exited the stage.
After about an hour-long wait, the lights in the theatre went down once again, and The Head and the Heart made their way onstage to wild cheers from the audience. The band jumped right into the set with first album classics “Cats and Dogs” and “Coeur d’Alene” played back-to-back. This was followed with a fairly even mix of songs from both the band’s sophomore and freshman albums.
These days, it seems to be a growing trend among musicians to look as bored and apathetic as possible while performing live; however, the guys and solitary gal of The Head and the Heart had enthusiasm that was endearing, invigorating and totally contagious throughout the duration of their performance.
Even when he wasn’t at the microphone, guitarist and vocalist Josiah Johnson belted out the words right along with his band members. Violinist and vocalist Charity Rose Thielen poured her heart and soul into every word she sang; and lead vocalist Jonathan Russell sang with such fervor and sincerity that the audience seemed almost stunned at times.
The group’s vivacious and bubbly energy was completely pervasive; anyone in the crowd would have been hard-pressed to resist the temptation of moving along to the group’s beautifully crafted harmonies and melodies.
One particularly enjoyable moment was the band’s performance of “Winter Song,” when Thielen, Russell and Johnson shed their instruments and simply sang to the audience as pianist Kenny Hensley fingerpicked a guitar. Another was when the group played fan favorite “Rivers and Roads,” which may have elicited the loudest and most emotional response from the audience with almost every voice in the crowd singing along.
When Johnson came onstage solo during the encore to perform an untitled acoustic song, he said something very interesting. To paraphrase, he mentioned how he loved going to shows when he was younger, because you could be in a crowd, look to your left, and see a kid you know from school who you thought was a huge douchebag. But there he is, and there you are, both enjoying the same music.
And that is exactly how it felt being at this show. There were all different types of people there – the standard drunk kids who spend the majority of the show yelling things they probably won’t remember; the nice, quiet older couple who just seems to take everything in; the young couples that lean against one another and sway together to the music; and so on. But regardless of what type of person anyone there might have been, everyone was there together, enjoying themselves and immersing themselves in the same beautiful, inspiring music.
The Head and the Heart put on a performance that was, in a word, lovely. With their buoyant energy, robust passion and true talent, they put on a live show that both fans and people who have never heard a single song of theirs would inevitably love.
– Kathryn Paquet