Live review: The Head and the Heart at the Ogden Theatre in Denver - Reverb

The Head and the Heart at the Ogden Theatre, 12-12-13 (review)

Josiah Johnson of the Head and the Heart pointed out in a recent Reverb interview that much of the current indie-folk scene in the US feels recycled. And he’s right — to a large extent, the folk revival has grown far beyond its Americana roots, and has delved deeply into the “copy,” or at least derivative, stage.

Surprisingly, though, Johnson believes his band is different. The Head and the Heart’s show at the Ogden Theatre on Thursday night — the first of two, both sold out — seemed to prove otherwise. Derivative of the Beatles’ and fellow folksters like the Lumineers, the Head and the Heart proved Johnson’s point about the neo-folk revival more than eschewed it.

This is not to say – at all – that the band’s largest Colorado show wasn’t enjoyable. The Head and the Heart not only knows its own genre, each of the musicians in the band also know how to play. For the better part of two hours, the Seattle export regaled a sold out crowd with a setlist that featured plenty of their first record, and most of the second as well. They started with the sexy, guttural “Shake” — arguably the band’s most original piece — and poured through “Hometown Heroes,” “Ghosts,” “Let’s Be Still,” “Cruel” and more. But, more than an original, organic collection, the setlist was more a Beatles-esque mirror of the same folk-pop that’s saturating much of our playlists lately.

As much as Johnson may believe that the Head and the Heart are immune to the all-pervasive weight of derivation and easy mimicry, the band is not. Try as they might to sound original, new, risky, THATH kept sliding into a comfortable redundancy, further proving that the pop aspect of the last decade or so of folk revival has really taken over.

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at DenverThread.com, and his giglist at Gigbot.

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  • mini_d

    This pictures are from 2012 – not from Thursday’s show at the Ogden.