Concert Review: The Head and the Heart at Newport Music Hall (Columbus, OH)

The Head and the Heart (Seattle), Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives (Portland), Black Girls (Richmond)
March 10, 2012
Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH

When I started writing for Mezzic, I noticed this little album review from a band called The Head and the Heart getting a lot of buzz.  At the time, I was still pretty tentative about exploring what mainstream society might dub hipster bands.  A few music recommendations and months later, I decided to give these guys a try.  A few listens on Spotify won me over, and I bought the record.  Fast forward to March 10th, 2012 and I was at the Newport Music Hall watching the band play a sold out show at their first ever performance in Columbus.

Richmond’s Black Girls opened the show with their off-the-wall brand of Americana-based rock.  The frontman gave off a vibe I couldn’t quite figure out. At times he seemed a bit full of himself, at times trying too hard, and at times just apathetic.  In any case, the musicianship of the band was alright but his “falsetto” vocals were off key and over the top.

Portland’s Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives followed up the quagmire that began the show with their hard-hitting folk rock.  At first their harmonies were a bit disjointed (though admittedly moreso to sharper ears than mine) but their passion was evident the entire performance.  Frontman Drew Grow lead the quartet with the attitude of a restrained tasmanian devil. That is, he seemed ready to just explode with passion at anytime, but he kept it together just enough to deliver a solid performance, remaining in control and in tune with the band.

A longer than expected intermission resulted in The Head and the Heart taking the stage a bit after 10 PM.  The stage lit up, adorned with paper lanterns and stringed lights draped across the stage.  Orange, yellow, and natural light hues danced among the house lights also in play, and a trio of artificial  trees in the background added a more organic vibe to the atmosphere.  Predictably, the band opened with the short, rousing “Cats and Dogs” with refrains of “my roots are grown but I don’t know where they are” meshing into “Coeur D’Alene” and then “Ghosts.”  By this point, any casual fan of the band (read: me) might be surprised at just how LOUD they are live.  The production, especially when it comes to the percussion and bass is more subdued on the recording than live.  Yes, piano driven melodies still take the helm though.

A set highlight was their performance of their single and possibly best known track “Lost In My Mind.”  The dueling lead singers and violinist exhibited perfect harmonies, and as the track crescendoed the two opening bands joined The Head and the Heart onstage for more harmonies and antics.  A couple new songs here and there wet the audience’s appetite for their next record, and from the sound of it they are playing it safe and abiding by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage.  “Rivers and Roads” ended the main set, and during the encore a beautiful duet was juxtaposed with a more upbeat ending, during which they commented on seeing their first ever crowd surfer! Plainly, the crowd was super into it, and the fact that the band’s songs are still stuck in my head a few days after the show is a good sign of a quality performance.  If you dig singer-songwriter music and piano/guitar driven pop at all, you would do well to catch The Head and the Heart live.

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