It’s been a good six months since I’ve set foot in the Armory. Plenty has happened in that span of time. The super bowl took over, Slayer did their death metal thang, and Tech N9ne welcomed us all to the Midwest. The building has seen its fair share of diverse shows. However, when it came to my experiences so far, I had not. For me, it was my mecca for EDM. I had seen Seven Lions, Tritonal & Kill The Noize on opening night and Above & Beyond on New Year’s Eve. Both were incredible experiences in their own right but were absolutely different than what I was about to see.
The Head & The Heart are an indie folk band hailing out of Seattle, their music features, at times, a sparse production that relies on acoustic guitars, violins, pianos, mellow vocals, and soft drums. For a venue that can hold about 8000, that seems like a bit of an odd setup, but I was curious to see how it would pan out.
The group was supported by the always fun Grouplove, who was wrapping up their portion of the tour with The Head & The Heart. Like any Grouplove show, it was punctuated with ridiculous antics. That included the lead guitarist tossing his guitar about 30 feet in the air in the middle of a song and catching it, forcing their bassist to drink a beer shoe, which he did (it was called a “Shoey”) and talking about their last night out with The Head & The Heart. It was decided after a few rounds of drinks that they should form a supergroup and release an EP. Lead singer Hannah Hooper was cycling through possible names on stage and eventually came up with “Grouphead.” And after that, I was 100% convinced that I was going to buy that EP if they went with that name.
As for the show, the energy was electric as always, this was the 3rd time I’ve seen the band. They played their usual big hits like “Tongue Tied” and “Ways To Go,” while also featuring a healthy helping of music from their new record. They also played an absolutely kick-ass cover of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, like it was really really really good, sounded a little too similar to the actual band. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to provide here, unfortunately, this press pass was only good for The Head & The Heart. I think a lot of photographers at the show were also convinced that their pass was good for both bands as I saw no one taking pictures of Grouplove. So, you’re just going to have to believe 8000 people watched a scraggly bassist drink beer out of a shoe. Shame it wasn’t Bailey’s.
Next up was The Head & The Heart. They emerged from the back of the stage in a backlit haze to zealous cheers from the crowd and it was clear that they had plenty of superfans sprinkled in the audience. Their set pulled from their entire discography, from their self-titled debut to their new more indie rock-focused album Signs of Light, with a healthy helping of work from Let’s be Still.
The show kept production simple, and let the lights and smoke do the talking. The stage was bathed in bright changing colors throughout the entire show. The whole rainbow was present, and at one point the lights actually lit up in a rainbow arrangement.
There were also plenty of stories from Jonathan Russell, who told stories of his move from the East Coast to Seattle and how he didn’t know a soul. He mentioned the rain, coffee shops, murders of crows and his metal-loving roommates. So, it was basically the most Seattle story ever. He also talked about leaving his friends and family behind, and wondering if he would ever see any of them again. A pretty heavy and authentic moment for a stadium-sized concert.
The crowd was very active through the whole show, and I don’t mean just screaming and hollering through every set, but actively involved in the music. On several songs, most of the crowd sang along like a giant chorus. It was the kind of moment that would give you goosebumps. Everyone was so on cue and on tempo. This happened on “All We Ever Knew,” “Lost in my Mind,” “Down in the Valley” and ” during the finale in “Rivers and Roads.” So, it definitely was not a one-time occurrence. It made the Armory feel just a bit smaller. It was a very cool feeling, a sense of togetherness in a room of 8000. I absolutely enjoyed the night and the experience. It’s always a good sign when music makes you physically feel something, a frisson, as it’s known as. It’s always a joy to have music evoke that rare shiver down your spine.
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