I’m still recovering from Riot Fest. It was a long yet amazing weekend in Chicago surrounded by the best of friends while watching some of the best of bands. Everything about it was perfect so coming back home to my day job and the usual grind was a bit of a shock and, well, disappointment to be completely honest. I knew that I had to snap out of it and get back into my normal schedule and what better way to get back to reality than going to a show? I didn’t need anything extraordinary, I just needed a show so I went to the first one that even remotely tickled my fancy,

Washington based The Moondoggies kicked things off right at 8PM. This Washington based band didn’t quite hook the crowd with the first couple of beats of what would be a soothing forty-minute set but it didn’t take long for the excited audience to catch onto the band’s brilliance. The Moondoggies’ set was understated in a way that I truly can’t quite explain. Sure, they were just the opening act but there was something so humbling and captivating about their performance that I was eating every moment up. Their music definitely wasn’t my typical cup of tea. Slow and steady but clearly full of passion and heart, their indie rock anthems seemed to lack a sense of energy that I typically yearn for but, at the same time, their laid back vibe was exactly what I needed last night making them the perfect opening act.

Although the music leaned towards the slower and calmer side of things, there was this sense of something much more behind all of the music. Maybe it was the way vocalist Kevin Murphy joked with the audience about all merch sales going to his kids’ mac n’ cheese fund (or college fund if that does it for you), or the way that each of the members was clearly doing their own thing in their own little world yet somehow creating a beautiful soundscape full of a sense of togetherness and perfection. Regardless of what it was, The Moondoggies is one of the few bands in this genre that I’ve actually seen and gotten a sense of personality from. As relaxed as The Moondoggies had me feeling, all good things come to an end and after forty minutes of bliss, the audience was shot back to reality as the lights came on and wait for headliners The Head and the Heart started.

The wait wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I attribute that to the fun-loving atmosphere throughout The Armory. There was just something so free and calm about the vibe in the room. I could have read it all wrong but, compared to the insanity of Riot Fest, the thirty minute wait for The Head and the Heart to go on stage was nothing short of therapeutic. Even as the band took the stage and the hushed conversations turned into cheering, there was something calm and collected about it. There was no pushing or shoving from people trying to get to the very front of the audience. Everyone just stayed where they were and waited for the music to take over.

Full disclosure- The Head and The Heart is not my band. Walking into last night’s concert I knew that I had heard some of their songs in passing but honestly don’t recall any of their radio hits ever catching me or making me want to dig into their discography. I’m a firm believer in never judging a band by just their recording– you have to factor in their live show too– and, because of that mentality, I plan on digging into The Head and The Heart all day today. Much like The Moondoggies, there was something very understated about this band’s set. It wasn’t until their third song that I realized just how many hits this band had and, when I realized that it came with the realization that this band is so much bigger than their modest live show.

Sure, there were some cool wooden sculptures in the shape of waves on the stage which added a very cool visual effect but, other than that, the audience was left with nothing more than the band, their charm, and their flawless sound and honestly, that’s all anyone could ask for. From Charity Rose Thielen’s distinct voice to Kenny Hensley’s absolutely stunning piano playing, everything about THATH’s set was beyond perfect. Although it felt as perfect as any recording could, there was something magical about hearing their songs live and seeing them perform said songs. There was a sense of personality that radiated off the stage even though the band seemed soft spoken and really didn’t say much to the audience. Again, they let their music do the talking and that was beyond fine with me and the rest of the audience.

Their nearly twenty song set followed by a couple song encore was nothing short of captivating and perfect. It wasn’t the most exciting show I’ve ever been at and, compared to the insane pits at Riot Fest, was actually quite boring but it was full of energy at the same time. I would never call myself a huge THATH fan but, after standing there being absolutely captivated by this band, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I fell head over heels for this group and would go see them live again any day.

I probably won’t be recovered from Riot Fest for another couple of days and while most people would just stick around home and keep a low profile until they are caught up on sleep and have a full tank of energy again, that’s not really my style. My style is more hit the ground running and don’t look back so a huge thank you to The Moondoggies and The Head and the Heart for making that ground a little bit softer.

Line Up:

The Moondoggies

The Head and the Heart

Venue: The Armory

Sausage Fest Meter- 3 out of 10

Average Age of the Crowd- 28

Crowd Surfers- None

Daydream-Ability- 7.3 out of 10

Stage Divers-  None

Broken Bones- None

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing

Fights- None

Pukers- None

Idiots Taken Out By Security- None

Celebrity Sightings- None

Overall Score- 6.3 out of 10

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