The Head and the Heart at Lollapalooza 2012 | Photos and music review
There's no shortage of narrative surrounding The Head and the Heart's early successes, or the bevy of high-profile bands for which the sextet has opened, but Friday's capable set likely answered a few questions for those hearing the neo-folk-ers for the first time. "Cats and Dogs" led things off for the Seattle favorites, transitioning expediently into stomper "Coeur D'Alene," the tripartite vocal harmonies here ideal summer festival ear candy. As is true in the band's recorded material, the fiddling of violinist/singer Charity Rose Thielen (who, incidentally wins for choicest performer name this year) was sadly buried deep within the mix for much of the set.
The Seattle sextet's 2009 self-titled debut, re-released on Sub Pop last year, suffers from flat, monochromatic production that fails to capture the color palette potential when guitars/bass/drums are allied with three-part vocal harmonies, violin and piano. Dubious mastering aside, independently selling a reported 10,000 copies of the record prior to signing any distribution deal means The Head and the Heart is connecting with live audiences. The Lolla faithful at Sony stage were definitively on board. What evidently doesn't quite translate to tape is the group's earnest delivery. The Head and the Heart have no problem commanding a festival stage, and the sonic palette is significantly improved in a live setting.
What began as a track-for-track recreation of Head and Heart's studio release diverged by the fourth entry with one of the band's more compelling offerings, "Honey Come Home," before launching into a brand new composition. "This one's for us," disclosed singer Jonathan Russell, but the unnamed tune appeared well-fleshed-out, highlighted by a simple violin hook from the now-audible Thielen.