Concert review: A packed Pageant swoons for the Head and the Heart (with Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives), Sunday, March 25
The Head and the Heart brought an abundance of sing-along sunshine from Seattle to St. Louis on Sunday night at the Pageant. Joyful attendees stomped, clapped and swayed along to the sweet folk-rock and harmonies offered throughout the evening.
Opening act for this KDHX-welcomed night, Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives gave an emotional and psychedelic display of their own breed of folk-rock, progressing through a variety of musical influences. As frontman Drew Grow entered alone, his droopy, blue cabby hat shading his face, he took his position at center stage surrounded by four guitars. Grabbing an acoustic, he began strumming and singing a simple folk song and was soon joined by band members taking their respective positions and offering supporting harmonies to the modest introduction.
With all four members now on stage, the band launched into a passionate rock jam reminiscent of Langhorne Slim. Midway through their set, Drew Grow and company were joined on stage by the Head and The Heart’s co-frontmen, Jon Russell and Josiah Johnson, adding a tambourine and maraca to the mix. Aggressively wandering through rockabilly, folk and psychedelia, the raw vibes, powerful harmonies and ambient explorations gained quick approval as the crowd in the pit grew denser. The band concluded with a full-throttle jam before inviting members from their fellow touring acts to join them on stage for a final gospel tune laden with tambourines, shakers and vocal harmonies.
Roadies and band members alike set up equipment and stage décor preparing for the evening’s main event. As the room swelled with anticipation the crowd danced along to M83 playing through the speakers before the band entered to My Morning Jacket’s “Wordless Chorus.” The crowd cheered and continued to dance as the band took to their positions. Russell stood at center stage with an acoustic guitar on one side and an electric on the other. Johnson to his left held his acoustic, while Charity Rose Thielen stood behind a wildflower-wound microphone stand with her violin. Drums, bass and piano were all situated in the background; this was to be the most still the band would be for the rest of the evening.
Beginning in correlation with their sole album to date, drumsticks tapped the intro of “Cats and Dogs” as vocals and guitars joined. As the bass line kicked in, the lights strung between Chinese lantern globes overhead glowed warmly. Continuing in line with the album, the band moved directly into “Couer d’Alene,” as fans cheered and sang along. The dim Chinese lanterns took over stage brightening again as the piano introduced the third song of the album, “Ghosts.”
Following the soft piano outro, Russell announced the first of a handful of new songs for the evening. After the audience showed their appreciation, the band continued to direct the choir of the crowd through more of their album hits. The layers of harmonies soared beautifully throughout the building as the band drew energy from the audience and danced about the stage.
When the band finished the final plea of “Heaven Go Easy On Me,” Johnson paused to thank the St. Louis crowd for the love and respect they showed to the openers (which included the band Black Girls). Russell commented that after just playing Nashville and returning to play there again the next day that he would rather just play another show in St. Louis. The room roared with hometown pride as the band began another new song. Quickly catching on to the wordless chorus the crowd sang their approval with the gracious band members.
Fan favorite “Lost in My Mind” followed and the already-excited audience amplified its cheers to the rafters. As Russell eased into the song’s first chorus the touring bands once more danced on stage with various vocal and percussive contributions. Mingling through the remainder of the song, smiles abounded as the visitors exited the stage.
The crowd mellowed out for the quiet “Winter Song,” but only temporarily. Thielen began her verse, her first solo vocal performance of the night. The crowd cheered and clapped once again to illustrate their immense affection for her sweet, soothing performance.
“Sounds Like Hallelujah” was the next sing-along of the night. Theilen paused to reciprocate the love she felt in St. Louis, before the group swept into another fan favorite, “Rivers and Roads.” Her vocal performances in this song raised the most raucous cheers of the evening and caused goosebumps to surface through the sweat.
Exiting the stage briefly, Russell and Thielen returned to offer a charming single-mic duet, before being joined be the rest of the band. Another new song followed this endearing performance before the band played the last remaining song from their album, “Down in the Valley.” Many standing finally took their seats to muse over this final performance before heading out the door and into an unseasonably warm March evening.