When I committed to writing about every show I went to…I maybe didn’t account for the sheer number of shows I tend to see. Combine that with work (and the loss of a close friend a week ago)…and I feel like I’m always apologizing for not being caught up on reviews. I will get them done at she point….but, I may need to stop going to shows for a week or two!
Tonight I saw the Head and the Heart again. My first time was in April at Coachella where they were and remain my best find of all the bands I saw all weekend there. Since that time I’ve had their disc on heavy play and really grown to embrace it even more. So I was exited to share the show with some friends and with Julie.
First a word about the Observatory in Santa Ana….WOW.
I hadn’t been there in a year, (when it was still the Galaxy) and I saw Eels. They are still apparently in the midst of renovations. But, the work so far is great, and the previously barely edible food is now so good that I’d go back just to have meal there. The alcohol is still a bit pricey, and please…if I pay 8 dollars for wine…can it arrive in a glass and not a plastic cup please?
The first act, Husky (from Australia) were quite impressive in their half hour set. Some echoes of Radiohead and maybe even Crowded House. They were a fine start to the night. Here’s a sample of their sound.
Up next was Moondoggies…another Sub Pop offshoot band. A little more “jammy” than the first band, I found them to remind me of Crazy Horse or maybe Wilco. Also, a solid opener…two for two on the night and both bands I’d be glad to hear again. Something which is not always the case on a three band bill in this neck of the woods.
I have to say, seeing these two opening acts alongside a band I now love reminds me why I love smaller venues so much…and smaller labels. This was an evening of real music played by folks who didn’t get into the business to try and find a demographic and sell to it. Its music of emotion and music played with heart. In a place this size, there no room to mail it in and no room to hide. All three bands delivered more than my expectations and I left feeling better than when I arrived…and honestly, that’s why I am so passionate about seeing live music myself.
Which brings me to the Head and the Heart…
I love these guys, they are full of life and obviously loving what they are doing. It’s so fun to see a talented band on the way up. It’s all fresh and new and I only could sit and wonder what the years ahead will hold for them? Will they become huge (a distinct possibility with the solid material and promise shown on their first album)….will the shifting music industry change what success even means and how will that play out for them? (In other words…will anyone ever really be huge arena level good again?) No matter what, I really hope for the best for them…because they strike me as nice and ernest kids with a lot of talent.
Opening with “Cats and Dogs”, “Coeur D’Alene” and “Ghosts”, then sliding into “Heaven Go Easy on Me” they set a great early tone for the encouraging crowd. They dropped in the first of a couple new (and very solid) songs next and then grabbed the crowd with “Lost In My Mind” which Jonathan Russell explained he wrote while riding the bus to work.
Winter Song, and it’s achingly beautiful vocals followed and frankly it brought a tear to my eye with its stark imagery and sound.
After another new song they did “When I Fall Asleep” from their iTunes Sessions recordings and then “Sounds Like Hallelujah”, finally closing the set with my favorite of all their material “Rivers and Roads”.
Josiah Johnson came out alone for the first song of the encore, a very fine acoustic version of “Honey Come Home” and then was joined by the rest of the band for a rousing “Down in the Valley” to close. Clocking in just over an hour, it was a satisfying visit by a band with barely one album of material to pull from…they played it all, plus new songs and one from iTunes. I just couldn’t ask for more.
Down in the Valley
I just can’t say enough about how great they are live. If you have a chance, see them now while you still can in a smaller venue.