The Head and the Heart had Canopy Club decked out with festive lanterns and faux trees for the night. Before the Seattle-based band took the stage, their friends (and opening acts) Black Girls and Drew Grow and the Pastor’s Wives entertained the crowd.
Black Girls kicked off the night. After their short but upbeat and energetic set, lead singer Drew Gillihan promised the crowd that it was going to be a good night. And how right he was.
Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives were next. These guys know how to put on a show. It was hard not to be captivated by Drew’s enthusiastic style of performing. Based in Portland, Oregon, and friends of The Head and the Heart, Drew Grow joked about how the two bands had always wanted to go on tour together but never imagined it would be like this, since their tour-mates got “huge.”
Just how huge The Head and the Heart have become was displayed last night by a the huge crowd, which appeared for the band’s first ever show in Champaign-Urbana. From the moment they took the stage, this band seemed to radiate warmth to the heads and the hearts of the crowd through their genuine lyrics, sung in perfect harmony by the voices of singers Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell and Charity Thielen.
They started by playing the three first songs off of their debut self-titled album, “Cats and Dogs,” “Coer D’Alene” and “Ghosts.” It was instantly apparent the passion with which each band member played these songs.
Later in their set, The Head and the Heart played a new song, the first of many that night, which they said was just worked out a week ago. Fans seemed to love it. Earlier, during the WPGU interview, co-frontman Josiah Johnson said his band’s upcoming new material would be more instrumental and the songs would be more unique. This was apparent in their performance.
After fans enjoyed this new song, they were treated to old favorites. “Lost In My Mind,” with its sing-along chorus it was a hit among the crowd, as was “Sounds Like Hallelujah.” Co-frontmen Johnson and Russell traded lead vocals for songs that they had respectively written, supporting each other through vocal harmony. Violinist Thielen added feminine harmonies to the mix, while also singing a few solo parts on selections like “Winter Song.”
The Head and the Heart closed out the night with “Rivers and Roads,” which I now believe is a song that cannot be truly appreciated without having seen it live. The passionate energy within each band member shined at full force, and every person in the room was engrossed in this song.
The encore consisted with a duet from Jonathan Russell and Charity Thielen, playing another new song featuring only acoustic guitar. Under the dimmed lights, this was a notably special moment during the show. It then escalated to all six band members on the stage again, closing out the night with “Down In the Valley” and giving fans one last chance to sing along.
The Head and the Heart put on a brilliant live show – executing perfectly the harmony of their recordings as well as showing their ever-growing fan base just how much heart they put into their music. Judging by last night’s show at Canopy Club, it is safe to expect more great things from this band.