ACL Festival 2011
Festival Fever

ACL in review: The Head And The Heart bring sunshine and harmonies

ACL in review: The Head And The Heart bring sunshine and harmonies

Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_2
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_4
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_3
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_1
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_2
Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_4
Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_3
Austin Photo set: ACL 2011_the head and the heart_September 2011_1

The Head and The Heart arrived at ACL with quite a bit of buzz and some good timing: SPIN dubbed them part of the "New Americana" along with Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers, while USA Today featured them in "On The Verge" and termed them "the poster child of indie rock." As you'd expect, the accolades, coupled with Austin's inherent fondness for roots music, led to a huge crowd for the Seattle band's Sunday set (despite the 1:30 pm start time).

Our first impression was a comical one: too unaffected to worry about image, several of the band looked like they were backing Jimmy Buffett—who wears shorts on stage these days? That lack of pretension translated to the music, which channels a very SoCal '70's rock vibe similar to Dawes. The band were impressed with the turnout, simply stating: "I like Texas. Wow!" From the early notes of "Coeur D'Alene," there were handclaps, easygoing harmonies, and a general sense that this was the right way to start one's final day of the festival.
 
While the music is mostly sunny, the lyrics aren't - lines like "Just wanna die with the one I love" from "Honey Come Home" sounded sweet, even as their content veered into dark and fragile territory. Perhaps the best example of this was their cover of classic "T For Texas (Yodel #1)," which let the band's pretty harmonies sink around a song about shooting a lover who treated the narrator poorly—all while giving them the chance to say "Texas!" repeatedly to egg on the audience. 
 
Perhaps our favorite song of the set was "Ghosts," a song that begins in foreboding territory talking of "Boys in the street are talkin' about leaving'…looking' for places to go," then breaking into an ELO "Mr. Blue Sky"-type bouncy piano and harmony bit—it was fantastic. The humidity didn't dissuade the audience from singing, smiling, and generally just soaking up the great hour of music. As the group launched into the hit "Lost In My Mind" late in the show, you could see that they'd be all over Triple A radio, and back at ACL before long—albeit far higher up on the bill.