The Vinyl District - Live Review

Added on by Devil Whale.

TVD Live: The Head and the Heart at Beachland Ballroom, 10/2

Note to concertgoers: it’s a good idea to eat dinner before you go to a show. That way, you aren’t missing anything while you wait at the bar during a sold out show for your crispy tofu dippers. Maybe you wouldn’t order crispy tofu dippers, but if you’re at the Beachland Ballroom, you really ought to. They’re so delicious.

Anyways… I’m sitting at the bar this past Sunday, October 2nd. I’m sipping on a Woodchuck. I’m finishing up my notes from a show I had just left. I’m chatting with a charming young man. And then I hear it. The first few dreamy chords wafting from the Ballroom.

Headlining the night was The Head and the Heart.

If you want to hear music that is going to touch your soul, if you’re looking for an experience and not just something to pass the time—check these beautiful people out. Grab a ticket to their show. Buy their album. Drive cross-country in order to hear them. They’re that good.

Vocals are primarily traded between frontmen Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell with hauntingly gorgeous harmonies from Charity Rose Thielen. The vocal timbres of these three are so unique, but they blend in perfect synergy.

What I loved most about The Head and the Heart was the sincerity with which they performed. It’s apparent that each of them believes the notes they’re singing or playing, believes in them from their toes to the tops of their heads. They’re humble, quietly bowing their heads in gratitude to the crowd and allowing a tiny thank you to escape their lips.

They’re equal parts good ol’ back home music—hootin’ and hollerin’ around the stage, dancing up a storm, strummin’ their guitars, or going to town on the violin—and quiet reveries with a stripped down acoustic sound.

Their music has this cathartic element to it. I was standing there towards the end of the set, tears streaming down my face, singing right along with the people around me. It’s no wonder people find solace in their tunes.

I spent the night with a group of people who were there to see The Head and the Heart because they used one of their songs at a funeral for one of their friends who passed away too young. The band, having heard the story from one of the guys in the group, dedicated it to him. It really touched me to see a band that cared about its fans as much as the fans care for the band.

Supporting The Head and the Heart that evening was Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. I’d never heard this band before, and I’m really sorry I haven’t happened across Thao Nguyen’s music before. With dreamy pop vocals coupled with folksy guitars, what’s not to love? I can’t decide who Thao sounds like… torn between Charlotte Sometimes and Florence + the Machine.

What I’m saying is this girl has a subtle strength that she releases in a variety of vocal techniques. She’s got complete control of her voice, but the thing is, it’s like she’s having a hard time containing all of the energy inside herself; I think she may spontaneously combust. Total firecracker.

The music boasts explosive percussion, subtle vocal harmonies, and beat boxing?! Yeah, I was surprised, too. There were delicate feminine moments juxtaposed with powerful instrumental interludes. And the pipes on the other female vocalist…wow. And then she busted out an alto flute? Blew me away. (But I’m a flutist, so I’m biased.)

Those dreamy chords I mentioned hearing from the bar? They belonged to The Devil Whale, a five-piece band from Salt Lake City. Their sound was a blend of folk and beach vibes. Let me try to articulate this.

They’ve got these guitar lines that beg me to pack up the car and head over to Cali, but then they’ve also got these moments where they’re just rocking out on their guitars, stomping around the stage, going to town with tambourines, and it reminds me of the music you hear in the countryside.

Their music was beckoning me; I inhaled my dippers and Woodchuck so that I could watch the rest of their set. Assuming my usual spot by the soundboard, I saw singer Brinton Jones crooning subtly, a guitar round his neck. Everything’s perfect about the stage set-up, right down to the lighting. These guys look like they’re just your everyday guys, up there sharin’ a little music. It’s low-key, welcoming. And my god, their harmonies are so gorgeous.

All in all, what I’m saying is, sometimes you just need music that makes you feel human. Music that touches the parts of your soul that you neglect, the parts you can’t remember possessing because you’re too caught up in Facebook updates, tweeting, working, drinking espresso, and multi-tasking like you’re running a small country. Sometimes, we all need to just let go of that—turn it off—and find something that’s beautiful, that’s organic. Find something that sings to your soul, that makes you dance.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, shut off your phone, close your laptop, for the love of God put down that latte, and pick up an album by The Head and the Heart, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, or The Devil Whale. Set the needle on the record and just let go.

Be free for a while. You’ve earned it.