To say that Seattle-born band the Head and the Heart will mellow any stressed-out, traffic-battling 20-something Los Angelian rushing to get to a concert on time is a gross understatement. Upon arriving to the show an hour late due to an insane amount of Los Angeles traffic, I figured the night was ruined. It seemed my spiteful mood could not be adjusted — that is, until the Head and the Heart took the stage to perform one of the most inspired and relaxing of shows.

Unfortunately, my lack of punctuality lead me to miss all but one song from the wonderfully talented Bryan John Appleby, but, according to the Head and the Heart guitarist Josiah Johnson — Or was it bassist Chris Zasche? I couldn’t tell standing by the bar in the back of the Wiltern, clutching my vodka cranberry — “Bryan killed it tonight.” With a boisterous round of applause, the audience seemed to agree.

All photos by: Shawn Brackbill

The Head and the Heart began the night with the songs “Cats and Dogs” and “Coeur D’Alene” off of their 2011 self-titled debut album, which immediately lightened my downtrodden mood and had everyone singing along. They kept the momentum going with “Ghosts,” which got the guys standing next to me to link arms and skip. And this was just three songs in.

Charity Rose Thielen busted out her violin for a good part of the concert, adding an interesting bluegrass element to the already heavily folk sound. Coupled with the magically acoustic perfection of the Wiltern, I felt like I was watching a live taping of A Prairie Home Companion, only decidedly more West Coast influenced. Most of the songs also relied heavily on the piano, played by Kenny Hensley, which filled out the hall with a deep sound. Tyler Williams and Jonathan Russell played drums and percussion respectively, adding a rooted rhythm to each song.

The band so bravely and candidly introduced a couple new tracks, which they were working on while on tour. This seemingly spontaneous break from the planned set list made the night feel like an intimate testing ground for new material and creative inspiration. The new songs flowed nicely with the rest of the set, and the audience approved of each new track with cheers and screams.

The show ended with the encore number “Down in the Valley,” a song that, I think, would make folks like Bob Dylan proud, with its rough soprano beginning and lyrical richness. Not to drop any names, but Rainn Wilson and I seemed to have an equally enjoyable time, as his Twitter feed post concert stated, “Great show by Seattle’s @HeadandtheHeart last night. Their new stuff is sounding amazing!” I couldn’t agree more.

For more info:

The Head and the Heart
Bryan John Appleby