The Head & the Heart at First Avenue, 10/27/13

The Head & the Heart at First Avenue, 10/27/13
Photo by Youa Vang

The Head & the Heart
With Thao & the Stay Down Get Down and Quiet Life
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Sunday, October 27, 2013

Selling out First Avenue two nights in a row is a big feat for a band. Touring off their latest album Let's Be Still, Seattle's the Head and the Heart rolled through to promote an album that has taken their debut sound and added many more layers to it.

Opening to the recorded vocals of Charity Rose Thielen, the lone female in the band, on "Springtime," the 55-second song featured soaring vocals that transitions into the orchestral "Summertime." Jonathan Russell took the lead vocals on most of the songs, but many times traded off with Charity and Josiah Johnson. When they're not playing musical chairs with the lead, they blended their three-part harmonies over the six-piece band to form a choir that fills the room to the brim like in "Ghosts" and "Honey Come Home." "Honey Come Home" is from their self-titled debut album and is essentially a love song but comes from someone pleading for their loved one to come home after a breakup.

The Head & the Heart at First Avenue, 10/27/13
The Head & the Heart at First Avenue, 10/27/13
Photos by Youa Vang

The Head and the Heart's music is lyric-heavy. Unless you know the back story of it, "Another Story" could be interpreted in a different way. The song was written by Russell after the Newtown, Connecticut shootings last December. The piece talks without judgement telling of "the boy who lost his head" and how everyone's a little crazy, but we go on living with it.

Taking the lead on vocals, Josiah performed another lyrically-heavy song. "Josh McBride" was beautiful without ever being too sappy. While Russell had the deep bass vocals that has traces of smokiness in it, Johnson's voice is smoother like caramel and perfect for the quiet song.

The Head & the Heart at First Avenue, 10/27/13
The Head & the Heart at First Avenue, 10/27/13
Photos by Youa Vang

While the three vocalists may be the stars, the rest of the band were very talented in their own right. Playing at loud levels is easy for anyone, but subtlety is what many musicians lack. Chris Zasche (bass), Kenney Hensley (piano), and Tyler Williams (drums) knew their exact roles and each note was placed perfectly at the right time. 

"Lost in My Mind" was a breakthrough for the band on their first album, and onstage it translated into a tension-filled piece that built and exploded in a pool of emotion. The band wasn't done yet, though. The tempo switched in "Sounds Like Halleujah" and kept the crowd moving, while the dramatic "Rivers and Roads" closed out the regular set. Incredibly melancholy, "Rivers" talks about leaving, but in the end chants the promise of "rivers and roads 'til I reach you."

For their encore, Charity was given the stage to perform "These Days Are Numbered" solo. Thielen's voice with Jonathan's and Josiah's never got lost. Closing out the night was "Down in the Valley." The song is not a hymn, but still a song looking for redemption and basically what we're all looking for in life: a place to belong.

Critic's bias: I only recently have gotten into THATH's music, but have not been able to stop listening. Their debut album was great, but the band has stumbled onto something wonderful with the new album.

The crowd: All of the teenaged/college-aged girls the the Twin Cities and a sprinkling of males.

Overheard in the crowd: Not much, but Jonathan quoted many times how interesting music is in how it connects us by bringing together people who are complete strangers into one room.

Random notebook dump: I'm always intrigued by interesting merch, and THATH had one of the funnest pieces of merch: a blanket with a picture of an empty field from the album cover.. The piece plays off the cover where Jonathon and Josiah are lying in an empty field. Genius.

The Head & the Heart at First Avenue, 10/27/13
Photo by Youa Vang


Homecoming Heroes
Honey Come Home
Another Story
Josh McBride
Lost in My Mind
Sounds Like Hallelujah
Rivers and Roads

These Days Are Numbered
Down in the Valley

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