Head and the Heart in Paris: The Quest for Perfect Harmony
It just so happened that one of my favorite modern bands, the six piece Head and the Heart from Seattle, Washington, was on a European Tour during my semester abroad! Going to this concert was a necessity; I had yet to see them, and it was time to get a taste of their live show after listening to both of their albums on repeat for the past couple years. The folk-rock group emphasizes three part harmonies (which I love), while incorporating beautiful violin riffs that build on catchy choruses. This show was at the quaint but charming Café de la Danse, near the Bastille monument in Paris. The house was almost full, at a whopping 350 people. I couldn’t be happier – and to make matters even better, before the show started I overheard someone speaking in English who said, “I can’t wait to hear you guys!” I turn around to find Charity, the violinist/vocalist in the band right in front of me.
“Are you Charity?” I said, obviously knowing who she was. She responded yes, I introduced myself, and told her how happy I was to see them and that I came to Paris solely for this show! “That’s so sweet!” Having a violinist in the band, and the fact that she’s a babe, (Swhing!), adds a completely different aspect to the point. I always used to joke when I was younger and say that orchestra makes me sleepy, but when you incorporate it into a modern folk-rock band at the proper moments, it really is dope and moving.
As I stood anxiously 15 feet from the stage waiting for them to start, they casually strutted on and began to put me in a euphoric state for the next hour and a half. The Head and the Heart recently released their sophomore effort, Let’s Be Still (my review of it is here), so they began with a single from that record, “Another Story”, which was great. They ran through all my favorite tracks from both records: “Honey Come Home”, “Shake”, “Lost In My Mind”, and more. I couldn't help myself from singing along to every word of every song! Check out "Lost In My Mind" below!
Seeing The Head and the Heart live really makes me reflect on how finding the perfect harmony is truly a science. I noticed that they were all communicating with their sound engineers in the booth behind the audience as they persistently searched for the perfect balance. With three vocalists, two guitarists, a bassist, a violinist, a pianist and a drummer, there was a lot going on! As a performer, I know how difficult it can be to communicate with the sound engineers; at this show, once that balance was reached after a few songs, the Head and the Heart were spot on.
They engaged with the audience in between songs and after several “I love you, Charity!”s, Josiah Johnson, one of the guitarists and vocalists, shortly after whispered into the microphone, “I love you too, Charity,” as we all laughed. Charity even tried to speak French, which was sweet, but comical.
The passion in their lyrics was portrayed in a beautiful way. During Charity’s solo on “Rivers and Roads”, you could feel the meaning in what she was saying as her beautiful yet distinct tenor voice chants, “Rivers and roads / rivers and roads / rivers until I reach you.” The band uses harmonies to exemplify such strong emotion, which is what makes the quest for the perfect harmony all the more rewarding for both the band and myself. Those chilling moments really make a concert memorable; I’ve found their lyrics very retable to the average soul.
Before the two encore songs, Josiah played a solo song he had just written; it was a charming love song that was well perceived by the audience. When the band returned on stage, Ray commented on how powerful it is that he can be inspired by his fellow band mate. This was one of many occurrences that showed how close and tight knit the band is as a unit. The full band followed with title track “Let’s Be Still”, and fan favorite “Down In the Valley”. I truly learned to just be, enjoy the music, and not have a worry in the world at this show. “The worlds just spinning / a little too fast / if things don’t slow down / soon we might not last / So just for a moment / let’s be still.”
Aside from the lyrics and powerful three-part harmonies, there are so many other dimensions to the band's full sound. They give you a orchestral taste of some strings, groovy bass lines, piano ballads that help transition between versus and choruses, and the perfect about of crash from the drummer. The bassist, pianist and drummer are the backbone to help create the perfect harmony; I definitely was able to appreciate them as musicians when seeing them live, as compared to listening to them elsewhere.
The Head and the Heart aren’t the only ones on the quest for the perfect harmony; they are just in the lead. I loved this show! And I apologize for not having more pictures and videos – an Irish guy stole our phones in Amsterdam!
Download their two albums right now – you won’t regret it! And if you want to come with me to Governors Ball and Bonnaroo this summer to see them, be my guest.
Keep those records spinnin,