I have so much to write that I just have to start somewhere. So, now that I’m home I think I’ll start with my biggest surprise and best set of the whole weekend. The Head and the Heart are a Seattle band who play sort of folkie pop with a lot of harmony. They were on my radar for the show and I’d even bought their disc and added it to my iPod.
But, I wasn’t prepped for just how good they would be live.
Driving home today I was doing a lot of thinking about why I go to concerts and what drives me and makes me care about seeing live music so much.
I’ve decided that a big part of it is that element of chance…that moment when all the pieces fall into place, the hair raises on the back of your neck and you hear something etherial that only exists for that moment in time. Sure, you can buy a recording. But, it will never quite have the same mystery and randomness as hearing something so perfect live and right there in front of you. I’ll admit that music can actually move me to tears on the right occasion. It’s something that’s not predictable or genre specific. It’s just a feeling, one that is near impossible to define as I try to write about it tonight.
One of the cool things about attending a festival is that you increase the chances for that sort of moment. And, on the mid afternoon of the second day of the festival one of those moments clicked for me.
The Head and the Heart played for less an hour and only ten songs. But, from the very start of “Cats and Dogs” which segued into “Coeur D’Alene” they had me hooked. They have a wonderful blend of voices, and any band with such tight harmonies is usually a winner in my book. I liked the instrumentation and arrangements, they were tight and locked in right out of the gate. I respect that in a band and appreciate it no matter what style or genre they might play.
Next up was “Lost in my Mind” followed by a new song whose title was not mentioned (Maybe “gone are the days”? That was at least one of the lyrics.)
From there they moved to “Winter Song” giving violinist/singer Charity Rose Thielen an opportunity to shine on vocals. As on their CD they followed with “Sounds Like Hallelujah”. “When I fall asleep” from their iTunes sessions was followed by “Heaven go easy on me”. Next to last was “Down in the Valley” which is the place that I really felt it all totally come together for me. I wasn’t thinking anymore about how hot it was, how many shots I had left on my camera or who I might go see next. The blend of soulful voices and sparse instruments before me was locked in and too beautiful to not just listen until they were done.
The last song was “Rivers and Roads”….it’s simple lyrics that I’ll put here can’t really convey the depth and feeling that was evident in the forceful delivery by the band.
all our friends will move away
and they’re going to better places
but our friends will be gone awaynothing is as it has been
and i miss your face like hell
and i guess it’s just as well
but i miss your face like hellbeen talking bout the way things change
and my family lives in a different state
and if you don’t know what to make of this
then we will not relate
so if you don’t know what to make of this
then we will not relaterivers and roads
rivers and roads
rivers ’til i reach you
The repeated a cappella chorus of “rivers and roads” washed over the crowd and was sung with a ton of unspoken context that you just can’t easily define and print onto a page…you just have to hear it. Honestly, this was one of those songs that looks a bit trite when written out in front of you, but it just comes alive when performed.
It was perfectly done out there in that field in Indio.
I walked to the record signing tent after the set and I had a chance to chat with the band. I told them just how great it sounded. Josiah (one of the lead signers) shook my hand, introduced himself and said that they “felt it too”. It’s a bit of a blur, but one of them said that it was their best set in a long time. True or not, it was really gratifying to hear that from them. Since this whole “live music” thing for me is really about connecting with something that is fleeting, it was good to know that (at least sometimes) it’s not just in my head, but is part of an experience that’s even shared by the folks performing and creating on the stage.
So yeah….I guess that you could say I liked their set….a lot.
Here’s a live version of “Rivers and Roads” from last year’s SXSW.