The Head and The Heart brought their own take on the intersection of folk, rock, and Americana to Union Transfer for their second consecutive sold-out show Saturday night. The Seattle-based six-piece led by vocalists and guitarists Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell bathed the Philadelphia crowd in a hybrid of music influences including The Beatles, Edward Sharpe, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Walking onstage with their former tourmates Dr. Dog playing overhead showed the awareness and gratefulness The Head and The Heart had of the Philly love. They dove into a set mixing and matching songs from their debut self-titled work and their recently released Let’s Be Still. Johnson and Russell’s harmonies were expertly complemented by the violin-toting vocals of Charity Rose Thielen, bassist Chris Zasche, pianist Kenny Hensley, and drummer Tyler Williams.
Russell worked the stage the most, wandering with his microphone during quite a few songs, including the blue-lit opening track of Let’s Be Still, “Homecoming Heroes.” The lighting was one of the keys to the show’s success, varying between bright and dark with autumnal oranges and spotlights from the side of the stage thrown in for good measure. And then there was the unusual mirrorball on the floor by Williams, onto which another light reflected during songs including “Coeur D’Alene,” giving extra emphasis to the drummer’s sometimes-raucous beat.
The best was certainly saved for last, as the two-song encore began with Thielen strapping on a harmonica and doing the country-esque “These Days are Numbered” solo acoustic basking in a spotlight. And then they closed with fan favorite “Down in the Valley,” a grand moment of musical joy for all in the crowd.
If there could be a rock counterpoint to the many genres of The Head and The Heart, San Francisco-based opener Thao & The Get Down Stay Down were certainly it. With a punk soul and folk heart, lead singer and guitarist Thao Nguyen went through a blistering set consisting mostly of songs from their 2013 release We the Common. And despite some rare Union Transfer sound issues in her set opener, the title track to her 2009 work Know Better Learn Faster, where her vocals were barely audible, Thao and her supporting crew blasted through an 11-song parade of raucous rock and roll. The highlight was surely “We the Common,” one of 2013’s greatest songs, a blazing work of political and social awareness that is a universal call to the conscience.
Portland, Oregon-based folk and country group Quiet Life opened the night.
Seattle indie-folk phenomenon The Head and the Heart packed World Café Live for a sold out Free at Noon performance today. Keeping the energy up and the attitude light, the six members got the Philly crowd ready for two more sold out performances with an easygoing performance of some of their reflective yet topical tunes from October release Let’s Be Still. Check out details for tonight’s and tomorrow’s performances at Union Transfer’s website. Check out a photo gallery and the set list from Free at Noon, and listen back to today’s performance in its entirety below.
The Head and the Heart filmed an acoustic version of their latest single “Shake” for Yours Truly SF recently. The song is taken from the Seattle six-piece’s stellar sophomore effort Let’s Be Still, released earlier this month on Sub Pop. Stripping the song down to just a guitar and vocals, the video shows just how powerful The band’s songwriting talent is. Check it out below, and then, beginning tomorrow, sign up for The Head and the Heart’s Free at Noon concert at World Cafe Live next Friday, November 8th, here. The Free at Noon precedes two sold-out shows at Union Transfer.
Seattle six-piece The Head and the Heart‘s new Let’s Be Still is streaming today in its entirey via Soundcloud. Due out on October 15th via Sub Pop Records, the album finds the group considering themes of mortality stopping to smell the roses a bit, and to consider and meditate on the world around them. You hear this particularly on the second song from the record, “Another Story,” which discusses tragedy and depression.
Written by vocalist / guitarist Jon Russell around the time of the Newtown school shooting, the lyrics of “Another Story” depart from the band’s usual themes of love, home, family and friends to explore what causes something so devastating to happen and how we move on from it. From vocalist / guitarist Josiah Johnson:
There’s a line in it, like, “Everybody feels a little crazy but they go on living with it,” and what makes this one guy pop off? People deal with feeling depressed all the time, there’s heavy shit going on in everybody’s world. What is different? What is going on there? There’s no making sense of it. The song is a way of having a catharsis about the whole thing.
Let’s Be Still follows up 2011′s acclaimed self-titled debut; listen to the album in its entirety here, and watch the lyric video for “Another Story” below. The Head and the Heart play Union Transfer on November 8th and 9th. Both shows are sold out, but you can listen back to their 2011 appearance on World Cafe with David Dye here.
This week’s Key Studio Session brought local MC Curly Castro into the studio. The exceptionally expansive session of six tracks and six banter breaks bridges the duality of modern day hip hop: Castro has the rare ability to be both hype man and activist, alternating between the two. He was joined by fellow Philly producer Zilla Rocca, who Castro worked with on last year’s Wu Tang Pulp tribute project. Stream and download “West Indian Rum” below and check out the full session here.
Following his debut single “Away,” new Philly rapper JustXSudan has shared another new track called “A Couple Wishes.” Where “Away” served to introduce himself to his new audience, “A Couple Wishes” takes JustXSudan’s listeners into the reality of his everyday environment. Stream and download the song below and keep an ear out for Sudan’s debut record.
Seattle’s The Head and The Heart won over a lot of hearts with their 2011 self-titled album, a collection of indie-folk, roots and rock leaning songs anchored by the band’s strong vocal harmonies. Their anticipated sophomore album, Let’s Be Still, is out on October 15th. From the opening stomping chords to the anthemic singalong chorus, the lead single from the album, “Shake,” more than meets our expectations from the band for the first song from their forthcoming sophomore release.
WXPN Welcomes The Head and The Heart to Union Transfer on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th. The Saturday show is sold out however tickets are still available for the Friday night show here
Couldn’t get to San Fransisco to see The Head and the Heart at Outside Lands Fest? Watch this stop-motion video recap of their performance produced by Noel Alvarenga below. The Head and the Heart will be touring this fall to promote the October release of their album, Let’s Be Still, stopping off at Union Transfer for a double-header performance November 8th and 9th. Check out more details for the upcoming shows here. Find pre-order bundles for Let’s Be Stillhere.
Throughout the day it’s new music Tuesday on XPN; here’s a little sampler of some new records to dig into. Below are new songs from roots rockers Deer Tick, Blitzen Trapper and Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, the sunshiny future classic rock sound of the Haim sister, the kaleidoscopic brilliance of MGMT and The Polyphic Spree, our “Gotta Hear Song of The Week” from the San Francisco orchestral-pop band, The Family Crest, and The Head and The Heart.