Live at Bumbershoot 2014, Day 2: The Head and the Heart

Bumbershoot, Live Reviews
08/31/2014
Jacob Webb
photos by Brittney Bollay

What's better than hearing local music at a local festival? One of Seattle's most definitive contemporary indie acts, The Head and the Heart, are known for playing an infectious live set. Between the hand-clapping and the harmonies, they're a hometown favorite not to be missed live. The band, signed to Sub Pop Records, released their second album, Let's Be Still, last year, following their popular self-titled debut (it was one of Sub Pop's top selling debuts!). These folk darlings are loved for their country-tinged folk-pop, which, admittedly, is pretty hard to resist. Since their goal has been to make their records sound like they do live, you know they'll charm the audience at today's performance in the KEXP Bumbershoot Music Lounge.

The morning of their triumphant Bumbershoot headlining set, the band posted a picture on Facebook, a chalkboard drawing of Washington state containing the phrase, "You're already home where you feel love", and judging by the massive line outside the KEXP Music Lounge twenty minutes prior to showtime, Seattle was glad to have them back too. For the past year, the Ballard sextet has been touring behind Let's Be Still, playing bigger venues befitting the band's brilliant live performance. As cliche as it sounds, The Head and the Heart have always been a band that surpasses their recordings in a live setting, and in a small room – an occasion that's getting rarer and rarer - they soar, placing their natural chemistry and stage presence at the forefront. Opening with "Summertime", the band's three onstage leaders (Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell, and Charity Rose Thielen) traded off lead vocals and harmonies with ease, often smiling at each other, and in Russell and keyboardist Kenny Hensley's case, trading instruments too. A thrilling, percussive "Shake" followed, and after a tuning break where Johnson's NFL fantasy picks were discussed on air (he lost the Seahawks defense), "Another Story" and "10,000 Weight In Gold" brought the room to a more pensive tone. Closing with a jubilant "Lost In My Mind", the band brought the set to a rousing close. The band will be taking a break before starting the next album, but their Bumbershoot performance made it clear: there's no going back to small rooms for this band.

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