headheartconorbyrne1.jpg
Carli Plute
The Head and the Heart played Conor Byrne on Thurday, December 2.
The Head and the Heart

Conor Byrne

Thursday, Dec. 2

Seattle

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No Shortage of Harmonies Or Hugs at The Head and the Heart's "Secret" Set Last Night at Conor Byrne

headheartconorbyrne1.jpg
Carli Plute
The Head and the Heart played Conor Byrne on Thurday, December 2.
The Head and the Heart

Conor Byrne

Thursday, Dec. 2

Seattle buzz band the Head and the Heart invited their friends and neighbors to a "secret," guest-list only show Thursday at Ballard's Conor Byrne for a night that quickly turned into a who's who of the Seattle music scene. Everyone from local singer/songwriter Damien Jurado - who turned in one of the year's finest LPs with Saint Bartlett - to Sub Pop general manager Megan Jasper were in attendance to see the city's most popular unsigned (at least publicly) band in town.

Following sets from Dustin Darnold and Bryan Appleby, the capacity crowd wasted no time getting comfortable singing, swaying, and hugging along to THATH's crystal-clear performances of tracks from their self-titled debut. If you're going to hug it out in song you couldn't find a more appropriate soundtrack that THATH, a sextet that makes sugar-happy tunes with no malice lurking in the shadows.

That the Head and the Heart have come so far in capturing the imaginations of local music fans is at once shockingly predictable and surprising. It's predictable in that it is so easy to be swept away by the band's sharp--though oft-clich├ęd--harmonies, abrupt dynamics, and instantly familiar jams that mine a little bit of Americana, a little bit of folk, and a lot of indie pop. It's surprising in that the band's penchant for pushing every pleasure button every time--shoving in as many oooohs, ahhhhhs, and bright melodies as possible--is something you'd expect from adult contemporary artists like David Gray (who sounds a lot like a high-pitched version of THATH vocalist Jonathan Russeell), but it is an anomaly in a city that otherwise prides itself in taking its pop with a bit of edge. THATH is Starbucks rock for people who don't like Starbucks.

And while they don't have edge, THATH do produce well-made innocuous rock from people who can play their instruments, similar to that of self-professed fan Dave Matthews, who has made a career out of making music for college students that would also get past their parents.

With SXSW and a record deal on the horizon, The Head and the Heart are bound to have a productive couple of years, in no small part because they are so easy to love, and nearly impossible to hate.

Random Notebook Dump: Opener Bryan Appleby's full-band set was seriously impressive. He's one to watch.

The Crowd: Friends, family, and folks who knew all the words.

BTW: The Head and the Heart co-vocalist/guitarist Josiah Johnson hosts the open mic at Conor Byrne every Sunday when he's in town.

 
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