The Head and the Heart brings a new vibe and unique passion to McDonald Theater

Lead singer Jonathan Russell gives a rousing performance of “Rivers and Roads”.

A Sunday evening in Eugene in usually characterized by cramming for quizzes, rushing through homework, or simply recovering from a big gameday weekend. But for concert-goers at McDonald Theater last night, an emotional weekend came to a close with a dynamic performance by The Head and the Heart.

The Head and the Heart threw out some of the wildest energy that the audience of McDonald Hall has witnessed from an indie-pop band, with an overwhelming spirit of poetic soundscapes and charismatic performers.

A variety of instruments and a wide range of vocals are what contribute to The Head and the Heart’s unique sound and performance abilities. The band consists of six members, one girl and five guys, each of whom plays a different instrument and sings a different pitch. The Head and the Heart’s West Coast energy is undeniable in all ways. The charisma of lead singer Jonathan Russell, along with fellow vocalists Josiah Johnson and Charity Rose Thielen (the only woman in the band, and a wildly talented violinist) was present in every single song. Russell interacted with the audience between nearly every song, discussing their lunch at Sushi Pure in Eugene and his childhood as the son of a minister in Florida.

The chemistry between the musicians was palpable; at one point Johnson threw a maraca at pianist Kenny Hensley and knocked his cup of water all over the keyboards. Soon, the whole theater was laughing with them.

The band also has a new aesthetic with their new album Signs of Light. Originally a Seattle-based folk band, the six members of The Head and the Heart recently took a year off from the band to go their separate ways across the country. Afterward, they came together to write the new album while living out of in a bungalow in Stinson Beach. This new aesthetic, seen on stage with small palms and neon lights, is a sharp switch from a moody Seattle style.

Each song led to a mood shift, between slow and sad classics like “Rivers and Roads” and new indie-pop hits like “All We Ever Knew”. For the encore, the audience chanted “Rivers and Roads”, which the band played again after a few solo performances from Russell.

The venue of McDonald Theater is ideal for this type of performance: intimate, but still loud and a bit crazy. The vibe was one of harmony: we as the audience belonged there to open our ears to the artists on stage. The easily learned lyrics and sing-along songs united the audience together and urged the band to continue their passionate performance. Thielen’s emotional solos on the violin inspired tears from many members of the audience, and Russell’s between-song speeches roused cheers every time.

Check out The Head and the Heart’s new album Signs of Light, released in September.


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