December 5, 2013

I won’t be the first or the last to say it, but the Fox Theater in Oakland has to be one of the most stunning venues I’ve ever been to. While the outside doesn’t appear to be anything special, I was blown away the second we got inside. Walking into the orchestra pit I couldn’t help but marvel at the architecture, which I found more interesting than both of the openers - though I was a fan of Rayland Baxter’s story about his dream of meeting Jesus.

The six piece Head and the Heart took the stage promptly at 10pm to an eager sold out crowd of 2,800. Opening with their latest single, “Shake,” The Head and the Heart started out the night pumping up the audience. The pit was filled with energy and awe every time singer Charity Thielen sang a note. There was a silence during “Rivers and Roads” as she belted out the bridge; the band was quiet, the fans were quiet. It was just Charity’s voice and the fantastic acoustics of the Fox. I won’t deny tearing up a little.

Dynamically, The Head and the Heart’s sound has progressed from their first to second album, Let’s Be Still, released this October. This second album directly confronts those who may have called them a one-trick-pony. Let’s Be Still has its roots in an acoustic folksy sound, but it features an array of new sounds such as the electric guitar and the synth. The bonus track “Twilight” even features a psychedelic electric guitar solo. Sadly, none of these new talents were exhibited at the show, and it remained a mainly acoustic night. Yet it was a hell of an acoustic night.

Splitting the set almost exactly even between both albums, The Head and the Heart played for a solid hour and a half. At one point, singer and guitarist Jonathan Russell climbed off stage and onto the crowd barrier, expressing his desires and fears of crowd surfing. During our show, Jon did not surf, but instead mentioned how exciting it was to play at the Fox and that it was “the spot” to play on the West Coast. 

After they finished with a crowd favorite “Down in the Valley,” I tried to get a setlist, but was beat out by a rather obnoxious girl in the front who held up a sign during the entire set that requested a “Setlist, Pick, or Drumstick” - not even a “please.” After I met with pianist Kenny Hensley and he shared his appreciation for being able to play in such an esteemed venue. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had an amazing first time at The Fox. 

Photos by Sam Engel / Senior Staff