Head and The Heart Live Review

“Hangups, Hookups, & The Heavy Things We Hold” | The Head And The Heart LIVE REVIEW + VIDEO | Jannus Live, St. Pete, FL | May 16, 2017

by • May 20, 2017

The surrounding brick apartments spit out lucky tenants to their respective balconies to watch the happenings below. The Head and The Heart comes bounding down the spiral staircase to an already hollerin’ audience.

We want to feel something this Tuesday.

There’s always an abundance of milling around the entrance of Jannus Live, given its many bars lined on the right side to properly lube the people up. But if you’re patient, (and a short girl with a sweet chorus of ‘sorry’s’ to pass out,) you can weave your way to stage right and cuddle all the way up front.

The theme of the evening; patience.

It takes diligent practice to quiet anxious voices. It takes persevered patience. To push down past feelings, and put old flames to bed. The Head and The Heart have had me by the throat since their self-titled album (2010). Their collective candor and chilling harmonies often found me trying to cloister myself into less selfish spaces and listen more. By the time Let’s Be Still came out in 2013, the Seattle folk group completely captivated me. Their sophomore sound was full and confident. The timing of this record in my life was no happenstance. It came out swinging and I was happy to take some black eyes.

They start the evening with the first track off their latest record, Signs of Light. “All We Knew” is nothing short of what we’ve come to expect from The Head and the Heart; a swelling verse, building to a triumphant chorus of chants, and a spine of serene violin. We settle in. We are ready.

There seems to be an understanding among the crowd; walls broken down. Even the rather tall, tipsy swaying dude in front of me didn’t bother me like he might have at other shows. He tilts his head back and sings out the words loud and slurred. I feel lucky to witness such uninhibited concert-going. Everyone is truly present underneath the St. Pete sky.

Is it any wonder why we all leave home?
People say, “I knew you when you were six years old”
And you say, “But I’ve changed, I’ve changed, I’ve changed, I’ve changed.”

“Ghosts” is a sucker punch from their first album. It’s the insistent stamping of your foot as you swear you’re far removed from your old ways. But these haunting things, they linger; our hangups, our past hookups. I stand there with someone my heart is reeling for and yet, my head plays sepia toned memories of years gone by. Or maybe, my head is swimming with feeling and my heart is tugged in the other direction… I couldn’t quiet either one. Am I the only person alive who never lets anything die, I thought. How do we know the difference between letting go and giving up?

Before I could delve too deeply into my own introspection, a fever broke out. It is time to dance. A disco ball spins out squares of light from above as “Let’s Be Still” rings out.

All of this time is just circles in my mind, so just for a moment, let’s be still.”

Right on cue. All of these things didn’t need to be figured out right now.

The night carries on with a set list fit for fans who were there from the beginning and those who caught on later. The real toast of the evening however, is Ms. Charity Rose Thielen. Every time the violinist steps into the light, she is met with howls to the night. The crowd is with her. They want more. Her voice adds a beautiful roundness to the space, which was previously only filled with male bravado. She is soft and angelic. She soars through with harmonies and sucks all the energy towards her.

The set closes with “Down in the Valley” but we know there’s more, at least we cheer and demand it. The group bounds once more down the stairs and place themselves amongst the lush greenery on stage.

The bass line starts tripping and I immediately rush forward, my insides hot with recognition.

“And the memories we’ve made, will never be lost, no
And the look on your face, we both knew the cost
But the wind, yes the wind keeps howling

Even if it was a mistake, I can’t forget your face
Even if it was just a day,
You won’t forget the one who’s making you shake.”

Maybe, you never forget. Maybe, there will always be those memories yanking at your pant leg, begging you to relive them. Maybe, there will always be that one person who feels like ‘the one who got away.’ The beautiful irony in living betwixt these realms of old fucks and new loves is the lesson each one carries. You learn love can live inside of you in many different ways and that’s okay. Not everything is meant to be explored fully. Not everyone is supposed to be in your life forever. But goddamn, you don’t ever forget how they made you feel. You shake and you realize, sometimes it’s just about the shaking and nothing more.

You know, I’m originally from Jacksonville,” lead singer Johnathan Russell says to our cheering audience.

I moved to Virginia and then found my good friend Josiah in Seattle. He’s my soulmate. We’d both been in bands that had broken up one too many times. This just felt right and here we are. Thank you for having us tonight St. Petersburg. We have one more.”

We all join in for one last anthemic and off-key rendition of “Rivers and Roads.”

I take the pen from my hair and jot down a quick note:

It’s never going to be what you think, but it’s gonna be what you need.


The Head And The Heart Live Review 2017 and shitty feature pic by Sarah Schumaker. 😎

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