By: Katie Siple, Web Editor
The audience was lost in their minds during The Head and the Heart’s performance at the State Theatre in Ithaca. On March 4, the indie-folk band played a sold-out show that rocked the stage. Formed in 2009, band members Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell, Charity Rose Thielen, Chris Zasche, Kenny Hensley, and Tyler Williams have created a unique sound with strong harmonies, powerful instrumentals and emotional lyricism. They have since released three successful albums, of which their newest, entitled Signs of Light, was released in September. The band shortly announced their world tour for Signs of Light in Oct. 2017.
The Head and the Heart was hands down one of the best concert I’ve ever been to – the atmosphere, the stage, everything was just captivating to watch. As soon as the lights dimmed, the crowd jumped to their feet and clapped wildly. The energy and good vibes of the audience cheered The Head and the Heart on as they opened with the lead single off “All We Ever Knew.” For a majority of the concert, the band focused on past albums like Let’s Be Still and their self-titled debut album that launched their career. Their older music has a much more acoustic indie vibe with a strong piano line and harmonies that speak to the soul. Their music was infectious — it permeated every part of the audience and made us want to get up and dance along. You could feel the connection between the audience and the Head and the Heart on stage as they gave it their all. The air vibrated with the sounds of their harmonies, tickling the audience’s ears with its pleasure.
The best part of The Head and the Heart is their lyricism. They’re the perfect kind of lyrics to enjoy while you’re sitting around a campfire, that makes you seem like you’re singing alongside every time. Simple but powerful lyrics are their forte — from “Put your dreams away for now/ I won’t see you for some time/ I am lost in my mind/ I get lost in my mind” to “I know there’s California, Oklahoma, and all of the places I ain’t ever been to/ But down in the valley with whiskey rivers/ These are the places you will find me hidin’,” their lyrics are a new type of beautiful poetry that inspire you to be unapologetically unique. The Head and the Heart has a song for every emotion, painfully raw and real every time you listen to the recordings. So you can only imagine how fantastical this band was live — everything was perfect, from the lighted orbs floating above the stage down to the glimmering sheen on Thielen’s dress. The band went on to play favorites like “Down in the Valley,” “Homecoming Heroes,” “Let’s Be Still,” and “Cats and Dogs,” seamlessly blending their albums together in a purely wonderful cacophony of sound.
This show was very special to Thielen because it just so happened to also be her birthday. The band brought her out a cake to celebrate and we all sang the most beautiful rendition of Happy Birthday I’ve ever heard. She was overwhelmed with joy and shed tears of happiness as she thanked everyone for the well-wishes. Thielen gazed out over the audience with a look of pure ferocity and gentleness as she reflected on her time as a musician thus far.
The Head and the Heart played an amazing encore for the audience, ending with the famous song “Rivers and Roads”, which fans had been anxiously waiting to hear the entire concert. It was the perfect note to end on, one that was both emotional and liberating. “Rivers and Roads”, in its solemn simplicity, hopeful but heartfelt, unified the audience in peaceful harmony. You could tell the band poured themselves into that song, laying everything they had left on the stage.
The bouncers let fans crowd the stage and my friend and I ended up front row and center practically underneath the lead singer. I wanted to faint from happiness and actually ended up crying from the swell of emotions I felt as they performed “Rivers and Roads” right in front of my very eyes. As I looked up at the idols I’ve been listening to since 2009, I thought about what a surreal concert experience this was, one that left every single person in that audience amazed and wanting more.