The six piece band from Seattle took the stage at Kool Haus and played some damn good indie rock on Sunday night. For the first three songs I could chill in the photo pit which reminded me of last summer’s concerts, and the fact that the weather is actually improving and those concerts are inching their way closer.
For such a large crowd (though not sold out like I had thought) and such a large venue, the band had a pretty good command over their space, and consistently delivered very upbeat music consisting of an upright piano, tambourine, acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a violin, plus a nice light show and smoke machine thrown in for extra effect. It made the large stage someone confusing, which helps when a smaller band has to somehow make it appear like they can cover such a large expanse of stage, and adds atmosphere when a larger band such as the Head and the Heart tackle a large stage.
The crowd was deliciously receptive to the band’s almost bluesy sound (which probably stems from the use of the piano) and the trio of vocals. This is not a band into depressing music, but into emotion-funneled music which takes the form of energy, not really any specific feeling but still maintains interest. Another way to put it is this certain joy in their music, their little piano solos and repetition in chords.
Each vocalist took turns playing lead vocals, which meant there was a level of variation in sound not typical in most bands. There was a good base of bass (haha) by which I mean it provided a solid foundation for each song, and it was nice to detect it in harmonies that appeared dramatically different than the melody while still fitting beautifully together.
Kool Haus is a night club. A night club. That should be explanation enough for what the night was like (a lot of hipsters in a shiny room with illuminated tables littered around the black leather seating area). In other words, it seemed a pretty odd venue for a band so obviously connected to their roots (and one that hails from Seattle no less, the land of trees and ocean and mountains!) The dulcet and thoughtful song the band played after I was kicked out of the photo pit would typically pull heartstrings but grappled with the space for a foothold. Sadness plus clubs is just plain depressing. The bartenders in their uniforms of black strips of fabric seemed alternately bored and fascinated by the change of scenery (must be nice to get a night off from being hit on by drunker club-goers). But don’t get me wrong, the music itself was amazing and consisted of more of the rich, multi-layered cake stuff I had been witness to all weekend.
I like a band with a balance, a well-thought-out set list that does not jump willy nilly from one song to the next, from upbeat to melancholic song in the span of a beat, but kind of moves through the record with a certain flow that could only be made better if, like Neil Young, the album was actually performed front to back, with each song moving into each other as it is always intended to be played, and though the Head and the Heart, with its gorgeous sound, certainly proved its capability at doing this, not everyone can be Neil Young.