Nationwide viewers tuning into “Conan” on Monday night may have had their first intersection with The Head and the Heart.
The Seattle indie-folk pop sextet performed their traditional concert closer, “Rivers and Roads,” a sonic sneak attack that begins as quiet as a church mouse before swelling into a roaring flood.
Upon the opening strums of acoustic guitar, lead singer/ songwriter/guitarist Josiah Johnson softly utters these words, “A year from now we’ll all be gone.”
At first, the song appears to be par for course for Northwest indie hipster folk. But as “Rivers and Roads” unfolds, it reveals the monstrous songwriting talent in the band, along with its uncanny ability to harness raw emotion with refined execution in the live performance.
As the song progresses, “Rivers and Roads” erupts into a maelstrom of male-and-female multipart vocal harmonies as singer/auxiliary percussionist Jonathan Russell and singer/violinist Charity Rose Thielen add vocal heft and instrumental texture. Simultaneously, drummer Tyler Williams and bassist Chris Zasche add crashing quakes of rhythmic punch.
What started a whisper becomes a howling party on stage with Thielen wailing the words “Rivers and roads,” while Johnson and Russell back her up on vocals. The quiet folk musings filter through punk-rock level reckless abandon on the stage.
Where the lush vocal harmonies meet head-on with the percussive bursts, pianist Kenny Hensley provides the bridges that connect the raging dynamics, tying the emotion and intuition in music with grounding sentiments of the lyrics.
With this alluring chemistry as the band’s calling card, The Head and the Heart have been picking up steam on the national radar, largely on the steam of their sophomore album, last year’s “Sounds Like Hallelujah.”
The newest record finds The Head and the Heart taking bigger leaps in the studio since signing with Seattle’s venerable Sub Pop Records. In addition to the colorful palette of sounds already at the band’s disposal, they also explored the studio tools more in-depth, bringing in orchestral elements, including cello, glockenspiel and additional violin.
Between the spirited live performance and well-crafted compositions, The Head and the Heart have created a musical experience that impacts both the body and the brain.
Rap on the Roof
With the temperatures cooling down as fall sets in, the opportunities for outdoor concerts are dwindling.
One of this summer’s local highlights for outdoor parties has been the Rumble on the Roof series on top The Saranac Public House, 21 W. Main Ave.
Tonight The Saranac goes into hip-hop mode with a sprawling lineup of area favorites coming together in an all-ages onslaught.
Main attractions on this bill are sure to be Kay Clifton (formerly Quiz of Bad Penmanship), and his cohort Jaeda. Clifton has been popping up recently in the obscure electronic-organic instrumental outfit Sales Wagon, but it’s a rare occurrence these days to see him rockin’ a solo rap set.
Also on the bill are Warn Away, Infinite Penz, ADHD, Them Meddling Kids, King Shellee the Great, P. Wrecks and The Kid Item 9.
The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Cover is $5.