Live Review: The Head & The Heart @ Columbia City Theater 10/14/13

all photos by Brittany Brassell

The Head & The Heart have experienced one of the greatest Seattle success stories we’ve seen in recent years. Selling over 10,000 copies of their self-released self-titled debut LP by word of mouth before signing to Sub Pop to re-release it nationally in 2011, the band saw their homespun batch of tunes burn across the country and followed the flame with a near-endless tour. Most fans have only really come to know and love The Head & The Heart in the last two years, but those of us who have hung around The Conor Byrne and similar local haunts have seen this batch of tunes bounce around and evolve since 2009.

All this to say, for new fans and old fans alike, we’ve been on the edge of our seats since August when the band revealed new single “Shake“, showing the colors of their sophomore album Let’s Be Still and proving to all naysayers that their sound isn’t limited to the grassroots stomp and clap anthems that made their first record so memorable. Last week, Rolling Stone premiered a stream of the new record through the band’s Soundcloud page, and we got to see what The Head & The Heart have been hiding up their sleeves. Rest assured, you can breathe easy - Let’s Be Still is nothing short of magical. While it takes the band’s sound to a more vast musical landscape and tackles some more mature themes lyrically, the record is The Head & The Heart through and through, and amongst their newfound fame and appeal, they haven’t lost a bit of the grassroots soul that got them where they are now.

Let’s Be Still is out this week through Sub Pop Records. This week as well, the band embarks on tour in support of the record. Many of the dates are already sold out, and the band will play Seattle at Key Arena on December 3 as part of Deck The Hall Ball. But before that, as a special treat to the city that put them on the map, The Head & The Heart planned a super exclusive album release show at Columbia City Theater. Tickets sold out for the event in under a minute, and all tickets sold mandate a wristband system to ward off any hoping to resell for profit. Tonight, we celebrated Let’s Be Still and turned the first page of an exciting new chapter in The Head & The Heart’s journey.

Columbia City Theater was the perfect place for this album release party to happen. It’s vertical shape gave a great seat to everyone packed into the tiny house. The place exploded in riotous applause as the band entered and started in on Let’s Be Still opener “Homecoming Heroes”. Josiah and Jonathan took to front and center, bookended on each side by Charity and Kenny. Behind them, Chris and Tyler kept the bass and drums going steadily forward in delightful fashion. This began a complete run through of the whole new album. Despite many not being very familiar with the new stuff (we’ve only had the stream for a couple days now, anyways), the house was unbelievably receptive. There’s no surprise why. The bright, danceable accessibility of “Summertime” and “Shake” as well as the heartbreaking beauty of the title track and “10000 Weight in Gold” had the crowd entranced from one end of the excitement spectrum to the other. About three quarters of the way through, the band grabbed some water took a breather. “This is our third show today” Jonathan told the crowd, but unless you heard all three (one being the set they did mid-afternoon at KEXP), you couldn’t tell. The band burned through the record like they recorded it yesterday, and concluding with the epic finale of “Gone”, Let’s Be Still sold everyone at Columbia City Theater wholeheartedly.

Of course, the fun didn’t end there. The band broke out classics “Lost In My Mind” and “Rivers and Roads” to wild applause before exiting the stage. But summoned back on for an encore, Jonathan and Charity entered and unplugged their equipment. “We’re doing this one without the PA” Jonathan said. The place went silent as the two harmonized against a single acoustic guitar for the most barebones arrangement of the evening. It was gorgeous. Torn down to the sparse arrangements the band was sketched with, The Head & The Heart came full circle tonight. The band reentered once more to close with “Deep In The Valley” and then they bid goodbye to a wonderful night of intimate performance.

Grab Let’s Be Still this week on Sub Pop Records on CD and vinyl, and good luck snagging one of those special Sonic Boom Loser Edition records while they last. Enjoy more pictures below!

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