My neighborhood blog once posted about a local band needing help with their first music video. They requested cool, funky lamps dropped off at one of the bars near my apartment and promised to take good care of them. I was disappointed that I did not have any cool, funky lamps, but the post led me to the band – a six-member group called The Head and The Heart.
It was love at first listen. Consisting mostly of transplanted Seattleites, they sing of things I identify with; being from a small town, moving cross-country, missing family…and it’s done in such a genuine way. They felt like my own little secret. With the current exception of Mumford and Sons, how big could a band with a folk sound really get?
It was only a few months later that I started seeing their faces in magazines. They played Conan. They’re playing Letterman this Friday. They’ve been touring not just the West coast, but the world this past summer. “My” indie folk band is becoming loved by everyone, and its been fun watching their rise to fame.
And now here they were, opening for another Seattle great, Death Cab For Cutie. I already knew Key Arena was going to be too big for them, and even they knew it. It’s not the kind of music that needs space and fancy lighting effects. They took the stage in the dark, and did their opening act duty of getting the crowd going and quickly working their way through the tried and true…no new songs here. Charity – often underestimated until you see her live – belted it out, bringing massive cheers from the crowd. Jonathan leaped toward the front row with his mic, catching the “Ba duh ba duh ba ba’s!” from the crowd during Ghosts. And during the final chorus of crowd favorite, Rivers and Roads, Kenny took his piano stool and stomped it repeatedly to the floor in rhythm. It’s the kind of energy and passion they always put into their performances. But hearing Josiah and Jonathan’s voice echo the way it did through an arena full of thousands seemed to make it lose the home-spun warmth they are known for.
When the lights came back up after their 50 minute set, the look of shock on Chris Zasche’s face and the “Wow” he mouthed proved it to me…I don’t think even they realize how big they’ve become sometimes. Absolutely see them any chance you can, but the more intimate the venue, the more rewarded you’ll be.
As I told a couple who had traveled all the way from Texas for the Death Cab for Cutie concert – one of the main reasons I was camped out front row was to see the openers, The Head and The Heart. Having missed them on several opportunities over the summer, I was finally going to see them live. The main thing that sticks in my mind about the show, was how much fun and passion they put into their music. Many of the band members sang along to the lyrics even if they weren’t on a mic, and their interactions on stage showed a band who is still purely enjoying the act of playing together.
However, it was clear they were coming to terms with playing their first arena show – a massive venue for their foot-stompin’ folk-tinged sound. And the band did seem to shrink in the echoing, cavernous venue, but it didn’t prevent them from putting on an energetic and fun show. Seattleites, Charity Thielen, and bass-player, Chris Zasche seemed the most at-awe with playing Key Arena. As the lights came up at the end of their set, Zasche looked up at the packed house and was obviously struck with the sight. For a group on the rapid rise to stardom, its probably something they need to get used to. For all the fans, I hope they continue to play smaller venues. I’ll be first in line again when they do.
SEE RELATED POST: In Concert: Death Cab For Cutie – Seattle 10/22/2011