In most cases, mixing the logic in your head with the emotions in your heart can turn into a tricky misleading game or a complicated philosophical debate. Either way, it’s not much fun and people end up second guessing themselves into oblivion, unless you are The Head and The Heart. When six musicians came together after a few key members met at an open mic night, these kindred spirits formed an Americana style band with well-crafted lyrics and harmonizing melodies which put smiles on faces and get toes tappin’ away to the beat. (I’m guessing that “The Head and The Heart and The Toes” didn’t win the popular vote for band names with these musicians. Cover band, anyone?)
On Wednesday, September 21, The Head and The Heart headlined the Variety Playhouse with openers Devil Whale, and the group Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Devil Whale, the first opener, was a five piece band from Salt Lake City. Their sound was atmospheric alt-country with a folky, danceable beat. The lead singer was rocking the grunge hippie look with a flannel shirt and beanie cap. Their band used percussion instruments, a tambourine and a shaker, and lyrics included interesting phrases about “midgets” and “Jesus.”
The middle band, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, was a four piece band composed of three girls and one guy playing bass guitar. Thao’s the lead singer/guitar player and the other two ladies played keyboard and drums. Thao and band had a very unique sound including songs with heavy bass and drum kicks, harmonizing vocals, hand clap bits, blues guitar riffs, and forceful lyrics. Thao was full of character as she towed the line between singing and screaming, sexy swank, and at moments touched on a softer, vulnerable side. With smart, fun, and danceable lyrics like “body in your bed” and “bring your hips to me,” it’s no wonder the audience grooved and clapped along during their set. One of the memorable moments from their set was when Thao went on to perform as a one woman jam band, starting a song off by beat boxing and humming at the same time.
Playing their second show in Atlanta, The Head and The Heart, appeared on the stage to a huge round of applause. By this time the venue filled up with people and the band of multitalented musicians started to jam out. The Head and The Heart had an Americana, alt-country sound that at times felt like they could’ve been dreamt up lullabies from the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou.” With endearing lyrics like “just want to die with the one I love” and “falling for you every time I lay eyes on you,” it’s easy to understand why radio stations and listeners have fallen in love with the romance that The Head and The Heart sing about. Throughout the set, several musicians changed instruments, danced around, and looked to be having a great time playing music together for the crowded room. A few of the musicians’ vocals were highlighted during different songs and the crowd was really touched by the way the lone female musician played her violin and sang. The audience really got into Lost In My Mind by singing and dancing all over the place. The Head and The Heart told the crowd that this was one of their “favorite shows in the South” before performing two encore songs.
Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad
Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.
Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”
Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.
The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.
Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair
The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.
What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.
Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.
Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.” The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.
Years & Years at Royale Boston
During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.
Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.
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