All the way back in May, just a couple months into “The 12” project, I was perusing through YouTube to dig up some videos for a Tour Report for The Head and the Heart. I came across a performance of “Lost in My Mind” that completely changed my perception of what this band was able to achieve. First comes a couple handclaps from the crowd, then a few folks up front singing along as Russell began the first verse. By the first chorus, the crowd was belting along with the band ecstatically. I’ve heard “Lost in My Mind” probably a hundred times in the last month, but this particular moment still gives me goose bumps as I’m writing today. What I’m sure started as a simple folk-pop song suddenly turned into an anthem for the burgeoning folk-rock scene so prominent in 2011. Billboard had it right when they put The Head and the Heart on their cover this summer. This band isn’t just the next addition to compliment the indie folk scene; they are a musical force unlike any act that has come into the national spotlight this year.
The Head and the Heart’s fans absolutely adore “their” band. While following them for the last six months, I’m reminded of another band that meant so much to me growing up. When I was about to enter high school around 1994, I was given a cassette of a relatively unknown group called Dave Matthews Band that would turn into my first musical obsession over the following half-decade. Within months, the band was graduating from clubs to amphitheaters based not just on their live sound, which at the time was revelatory to me, but due to their fervent fanbase. Dave Matthews Band built a community through an open recording policy that allowed fans to trade tapes of live concerts across the country. It’s an antiquated approach looking back from 2011, but at the time they were blazing a new trail given they only had one self-released album at the time. The rest of their story is pretty well known at this point as Dave Matthews Band continues to be one of the top touring acts in music as they enter their twentieth year. I’m not seeing multiple shows across the Northeast like I once had, but they memory and meaning that band means to me helped shape a passion in me for music that at the time I didn’t even know existed.
So what does this all have to do with The Head and the Heart? From Facebook and Twitter updates to a fan site completely dedicated to the band, there seems to be the same relative buzz surrounding the band as I felt with the Dave Matthews Band back in the early Nineties. Of all the band’s we covered, I believe the most in The Head and the Heart’s longevity. The fans that have been shouting the band’s name from virtual mountaintops are the kind of folks that will dedicate their all into the young band. They aren’t going to check out a show once in a while standing by the back of the bar. They’ll be right up front, feeling part of something rather than just being a casual observer. This level of support cannot be taken lightly, a fact that The Head and the Heart seem to completely understand. Of all the bands we covered, they easily pushed out our stories more than any other. Through little notes of thanks, their support of my project kept me not only believing in them, but believing in myself. The Head and the Heart have moved me not only through their music, but also through how much they care about really making an impact to every fan at every show. You want to not only cheer with them, you want to cheer for them.
My story with The Head and the Heart has been mirrored by fans across the country. They have become a musical ambassador for Seattle while selling out shows on the other side of the country. They’ve even gained some significant traction in Europe; London’s Rough Trade Records recently named their self-titled LP as one of their top selling records of the year. The Head and the Heart are a true musical success story in 2011 and I would be very surprised if their rise doesn’t continue beyond their wildest expectations. The band has some talented songwriters, but their true power comes when they hit the stage. Whether it’s Josiah Johnson dancing like he’s seeing his favorite band or Charity Thielen spine-tingling vocal run on “River and Roads”, The Head and the Heart delivers moments unlike any band on the scene right now. If this is just an early chapter, the future is truly limitless. I’m so thankful to be a small part of their story this year. In a music world where bands can come in and out of the spotlight in a heartbeat, The Head and the Heart are sealing their foundation to carry them through for years and years.
As a final aside, fans of the Head and the Heart that have been digging my coverage need not worry that we’re closing up shop on “The 12” (We’ll be transitioning completely to SXSW coverage tomorrow). The band’s dedicated fan community, Lost in My Mind, has evolved into a great place for up-to-date information and insight on the band. Keep up the great work Daniel!