The Head & The Heart, Bryan John Appleby, Curtains For You @ The Commodore; Oct. 11, 2012 [Guest Post]

I’m only one man. 

I clearly cannot attend every live show that comes to town, even if the level of killer-awesomeness is at 11. So, in my place, once in a while, I get some fantastically talented people to take my place, snag my media pass, shoot photos and write a review of a show I can’t be without on MoreThanAFeeling Music.

That being said, I would like to introduce to you Megan Forsyth who writes a killer music blog called Music vs. Misery.  She was kind enough to guest post on MTAF in my place.  

(To say I’m sour I missed this gig due to school/time/money is a severe understatement, judging by photos and review…)

The Head and the Heart + Bryan John Appleby + Curtains For You @ the Commodore Ballroom – 10/11/2012

Last Thursday night brought some of Seattle’s finest talent to Vancouver. The Head and the Heart headlined a sold-out show at the Commodore Ballroom with help from Bryan John Appleby and Curtains For You.

Curtains For You kicked things off with a rambunctious set of their ’60s influenced power pop tunes. Poor sound was an issue, but the four-piece fronted by brothers Matthew and Mike Gervais didn’t dare let it hinder their energy output. While the majority of the songs initially sound upbeat and cheerful, a careful listen to the lyrics reveals a hidden darkness. Still, they got the crowd dancing about and probably influenced the purchases of many more drinks, which was all fine and dandy — that is, until it was time for Bryan John Appleby’s time in the spotlight.

Now, I adore Bryan John Appleby, but in order to get the full effect of his music, the man needs a completely silent room. After Curtains For You had gotten the crowd riled up, the Commodore was the farthest thing from it.

I saw him perform for the first time at the Bumbershoot Music Festival last month, and that afternoon he had the entire audience in the palm of his hand, completely silent and mesmerized. This time around was an entirely different experience. Playing to a room full of loud, intoxicated people largely unfamiliar with his music and impatiently waiting for the headliner to come on can’t be easy for a guy in a toque who writes melancholy songs, but he and his band bravely weathered the storm to perform songs from his latest release, Fire On the Vine.

Bryan eventually got to make his point when he announced to the rest of the audience straight-faced that “someone in the front would like you all to shut up.” So, at least one other person was paying attention. Hopefully he can return to Vancouver soon to play his own show in a quieter, more suitable venue.

The Head and the Heart took the stage just after 11pm, much to the delight of the anxious crowd. They started with a steady string of songs from their debut (“Cats and Dogs” and “Ghosts,” amongst others) before sharing some new ones with their fans. The Josiah-led song “Josh McBride” (watch them sing it here against a gorgeous Munich backdrop) was first, followed shortly thereafter by the Jon-penned “Ever Since (Chasing A Ghost)”. The new songs sound much darker and lack their trademark big sing-a-long choruses, but it’s nice to know that they are taking things in a different direction as opposed to repeatedly using the same formula.

“Lost in My Mind” is always a boisterous number at The Head and the Heart shows, and on this occasion it was made even more powerful by the added presence of the members of Curtains For You and Bryan John Appleby’s band onstage. I was almost tempted to jump up there with them and join the party. Some more familiar songs were played (“Winter Song,” “Sounds Like Hallelujah”) along with another newbie entitled “What’s the Point?” The Head and the Heart wisely chose to close the first set with their most emotive live song, “Rivers and Roads”. No matter how many times I hear Charity reach that high note during her part, I will always get the most spine-tingling goosebumps.

The crowd hollered for The Head and the Heart to return to the stage for an encore, but it was only Josiah who reappeared to perform a solo acoustic version of “Fire/Fear,” arguably the most stunning of their newer songs. Afterwards, Jon, Charity, and the rest of the band returned to the stage for a spirited performance of the fan favourite “Down in the Valley”. Ending the night with a sing-a-long is never a bad move.

Bands touring with only one album behind them really ought to take notes from The Head and the Heart’s shows. That night they played every single song from their debut in addition to revealing five new ones — surely no one went home disappointed. The Head and the Heart is at the center of the exploding indie folk movement happening in the Pacific Northwest right now, and judging by all of the new material they have been churning out even while they continuously tour, the follow-up to their self-titled debut is sounding extremely promising. Here’s hoping.

-Megan

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~ by whet_hopped on October 18, 2012.

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