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Concert Review: The Head and the Heart at Bold Point Park

Jonathan Russell of The Head and the Heart. Photo by Chelsea Phou

The excitement in the crowd at Bold Point Park is palpable as the pre-show announcements go on. It’s a relatively intimate outdoor venue, with sections of grass to sit on and food trucks selling fries, fried dough, and beer. When we arrived, I was struck by the range of ages in the crowd – there were dads with young daughters on their shoulders, and elderly couples slow dancing to the music the DJ played between the sets.

When The Ballroom Thieves run onto the stage, their energy and flair are immediately present. The show begins with Calin “Callie” Peters, the lead vocalist and cellist, in red heart-shaped sunglasses singing the first few notes a cappella. Then Martin Early, the guitarist, and Devin Maunch, on percussion, come in with explosive accompaniment. Their sound is folksy, but it has an edge, and their lyrics are heavy with emotion and passion. The band has spoken on how much of their work has been influenced by the political climate and the pain in the aftermath of the 2016 election. To me, their best performance is in “Lantern,” a song Callie says is about “finding your way in the dark.” By the time they exit the stage, the audience is fired up.

Chelsea H. Phou
From left to right: Martin Early and Callie Peters of The Ballroom Thieves. Photo by Chelsea Phou.

Between sets, the elderly couple continues to slow dance.They seem to be passing the time well, while the rest of the crowd shuffles impatiently. When The Low Anthem begins setting up on stage, the excitement swells once again. In 2006, The Low Anthem was formed when Ben Knox Miller (vocals, guitars, trumpets, saws) and Jeff Prystowsky (vocals, drums, double basses, synths) met at their college radio station – WBRU! In 2012, they welcomed new members, Florence Wallis (vocals, violins) and Bryan Minto (vocals, guitars, harmonicas). 

The Low Anthem. Photo by Chelsea Phou.

Compared to The Ballroom Thieves, their sound is mellower and more ambient, more indie and alternative. Many of their songs come from their new album, The Salt Doll Went to Measure the Depth of the Sea, an album that came in the aftermath of a devastating van accident the band had while touring (one in which, luckily, none were seriously injured). The cyclical percussion and ambient guitar is reminiscent of the ocean tides, creating a unique, calming sound.

Photo by Chelsea Phou.
Florence Grace Wallis of The Low Anthem. Photo by Chelsea Phou.

When The Head and the Heart get onstage, the audience explodes with cheers and applause. They begin the set with a new song, and they immediately take charge of the crowd. They have a way of controlling the audience’s energy with their movements; during their third song, Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals) gets everyone clapping along to the beat. Their music is electric and folksy, with catchy hooks and melodies. 

Photo by Chelsea Phou.
Charity Rose Thielen of The Head and the Heart. Photo by Chelsea Phou.

Jonathan Russell, the lead vocalist, is dressed in a straw hat with watermelon print on the trim and a matching jacket, an outfit that encompasses the combination of folk and pop reflected in their music. The sun has already set, which makes the band’s use of colored lighting even more eye-catching. In between songs, Thielen talks about how it’s been three years since they’ve been to Providence. She says, “Thank y’all very much,” before they launch into their next song, “Rhythm and Blues.” This song brings all the bandmates together in energy, with Tyler Williams going hard on the drums. Throughout the set, I get the sense that the band is more of a family – no one member leads or steals the show, and they all work together. When the opening lyrics of “Lost in My Mind,” perhaps their most popular song, start, the crowd immediately starts cheering. By the time they reach the first chorus, the audience is chanting the words with them. The Head and the Heart delivered a great concert with non-stop energy and excitement. Be sure to check them out on YouTube or on their website, theheadandtheheart.com!

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