In early October a friend and I went to the Aragon Ballroom to see the Head and the Heart for the second time. I haven't been to a concert since last year, so I should have been excited. I wasn't. The best part about going to a concert is belting out the lyrics to the song that you fell in love with, and I kind of hated the Head and the Hearts new, third album, Signs of Light.
I was drawn to THATH (The Head And The Heart) because of their
folksy acoustics and touching lyrics--their new album was touched up, shallow,
and too upbeat. I refused to listen to it more than twice through, and only
knew the words to the hit song “All We Ever Knew” as well as “Library Magic”: the one
song that slightly resembles the old, untouched Head and the Heart. However, I
knew that seeing live music in the city with a good friend would be a fun
night, no matter the bands blunder, so I was willing to be optimistic. I walk
into the Aragon Ballroom, which is the coolest concert venue in the city in my opinion—it looks
like it was extracted straight from the movie Aladdin—but I digress. It was
opened by Declan McKenna, who has the indie pop hit “Brazil”. During his set I
was slightly creeped out by how dead the crowd was. Everyone was silent. An
hour passes and all of his songs seemed like one painfully long song.
When the Head and the Heart came out at nine, I was tired, my feet were sore, and I was
dreading standing there without a clue what the lyrics were to the songs about
to be played. They wasted no time to get to the first song, which was “All We
Ever Knew”. I thought it was bold for them to start out with their hit, most
concerts I have attended hold out on the crowd favorite until the end. I was a
little relieved because I could follow along to that one. The next song played
was “Ghosts”. This is a lesser known song from their second album and it
energized me because I figured that other old songs were going to be played
that night. They played around three songs from their new album and the rest
were hits from their old, better albums. Such as “Lets Be Still”, “Another
Story”, and my favorite THATH song of all time “Lost in My Mind”, arguably
their most iconic song. I was thrilled with the lineup--and I wasn't alone.
There was an obvious change in mood when they went from “Down in the Valley” to
“Library Magic” because all swaying and singing ceased. Another time there were
obvious—and hilarious—changes in the mood is whenever Charity Thielen did anything.
She is the only female in the band and the evident crowd favorite. The crowd
would drown out the lead singers if they saw her pick up her violin.
Moreover, I think that the band members must know that Signs
of Light fell short and I commend them for sacrificing exposure and
promotion for the sake of fans experience. Lead singer, Josiah Johnson paused
between songs to give thanks to the Chicago fan base. Josiah truly did have
reasons to be grateful for his fans. I have been to dozens of concerts and no
concert I have ever been too—even the previous Head and the Heart concert—had been that peaceful: no crazy drunk people, fighting, or even just shoving. It really shouldn’t have been noticeable, but
when you go to a lot of concerts, you learn to appreciate when there isn’t someone’s
sweaty arm touching your own equally gross body. He said he was impressed
that the crown effortlessly belted out lyrics to every single song, even though
they are not prominent on radio stations. Meaning that to know those lyrics, fans went
out of their way. Why wouldn’t I? It’s good music. I made a mental note to
bother Zoe and Tim to add more THATH to our system, because the two songs we
have “Cats and Dogs” and “Coeur D’Alene” don’t do justice to the band. He also
revealed that it is a challenge to keep both the audience, and the band members
entertained throughout their tour, which is why they do not strictly stick to
Signs of Light, or any other album. This is something I had never considered—and
trust me, I spend a lot of time thinking about what my life would be like as a
Another way the band was good to the fans that night was during the
encore. When I go to concerts, the band ends abruptly without saying anything
and I am left in the dark with a hundred people screaming and stomping for at
least ten minutes before they come back out. The Head and the Heart took a
three minute maximum break and were back out there for three more hits. The
last song of the night was “Rivers and Roads” which is an emotional and bare song
from their debut album; I attached a video to the song at the bottom of this
post. To get a little personal, I am a senior, so I am preoccupied with all
this college stuff and big decisions not far down the road. Rivers and Roads
starts out with “a year from now we’ll all be gone, all my friends will move
away” and wow if that doesn’t sum up my senior anxiety in a lyric I don’t think
anything could. For me ending with this song was touching and the perfect way
to end my second concert with the Head and The Heart. I feel bad criticizing
Signs of Light because I know how genuinely they care about how their fans
feel, and it’s not often you get artists as flexible and humble as the Head and
the Heart. I cannot wait to support them in concert for their next album,
hopefully a regression to their acoustic roots.
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