concert

The Head and the Heart @ Bottom of the Hill (4/28/11)

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Jonathan Russell of the Head and the Heart @ Bottom of the Hill (4/28/11)

Live concerts are kind of odd, if you think about them. You buy a ticket to a band you like, arrive to a venue populated by fellow fans, maybe have a drink or two, and then stand there, waiting to be utterly transported. And transported alone, too – from what I can tell from shows in the Bay, people don’t like to show emotion. The most you’ll get is some mild bopping as people clutch their beer bottles. I’m not asking for dance circles, but if you’re not looking for connection, why did you leave the house?

And yet we’re all guilty of craving the experience. I had first heard the Head and the Heart on KEXP, was converted by rapturous praise over at I am Fuel, You are Friends, and found myself greatly enjoying their self-titled album. When I went to see them with KO last Wednesday, April 27 at Bottom of the Hill, I confess, I was ready to be transported.¬†And boy, did they deliver.

The songs are not complex, sonically or lyrically. They are about travel, and love, and family, and roads, and rivers. “Honey, come home,” singer Jonathan Russell sings on “Honey Come Home.” “I’ve cleaned out the fridge / wiped the counters off.”

But what the band brings is heart, and so much of it. When they started “Down in the Valley” and the crowd erupted with the chorus, you really felt like you were part of something. The band just moves together so well, and brings the audience along for the ride.

Looking at their touring schedule, I have no idea how they make it work. I’m all for it though, as this is a band to see if they come by your town… especially if it’s at one of the smaller venues that they are sure to outgrow soon. Check out outcoming dates here.

Want more?
Check out the band’s Myspace and Facebook.

Also a live version of “Down in the Valley””

The Cave Singers, Great American Music Hall (3/10/11)

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In this day and age, it’s hard to go to a concert without knowing anything about the band. Almost without trying you can find interviews, live footage, buzz, and backlash.

That’s why it was such a pleasure to attend the Cave Singers at the Great American Music Hall last Thursday and have it be a surprise. I had heard the band on one of my favorite radio programs over at KEXP, The Roadhouse. They play a loose, folky rock that sounds somewhere between Josh Ritter and the Avett Brothers. I had listened to and enjoyed their albums but managed to keep in the dark about what kind of band they were.

The last time I had been to the GAMH was some time in 2006, when a friend and I got passes through our college paper. I had forgotten what a beautiful stage it was (also how awesome tables and chairs are; yes, I am old). The opening opening act, I won’t write anything about, claiming that age-old journalistic excuse of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

The second opening band Lia Ices played a fantastic set, Florence & the Machine/slash/Bjork-y/slash/Vashti Bunyan. It was sweeping, intense folk music helmed by a gorgeous woman who I believe pulled off a lavender floor-length romper. (Her guitarist was wearing a denim, Ghostbusters-style worksuit. Maybe that was the outfit requirement for that show). A very welcome surprise.

Then the Cave Singers came out, playing a bluesier version of “At the Cut” than I had expected. The energy kind of went up and down from the more rollicking numbers to jams like “Outer Realms,” which was too much of a raga for me. I was won over by the lovely “Beach House,” which sounds even more haunting live. A really solid show by a band who I’m excited to hear more from in the future.

Want more?

The Cave Singers – Beach House

Lia Ices – Ice Wine