The Head and The Heart @ The Fillmore


Often lost in the shadow of arena-folk bands like Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers; The Head and the Heart have craftily carved themselves a niche in the folk revival of the past decade. One of the many bands to come out of the Seattle music scene, the Head and the Heart blend vocal harmonies with rustic, modern rock to form a unique sound in what is an otherwise over saturated folk rock genre.

Embarking on what co-frontman and guitarist, Jonathan Russell described as “their first real tour ever,” The Head and the Heart brought their “Signs of Life” Tour to The Fillmore on Friday night. Violinist, Charity Rose Thielen, told the crowd how The Fillmore informed the band that since the Fishtown based music venue re-opened, the Head and the Heart have played it more times than any other band.

As the sold-out crowd awaited the arrival of their favorite folk rockers, The Shelters took the stage to warm the crowd up. Complementing The Head and the Heart’s newer upbeat, rockier selection of songs, The Shelters absolutely shredded. The Tom Petty produced and mentored rock and roll band played an energetic half hour set showcasing their 60s and 70s rock influences. Fresh off sets at Lollapalooza and BST Hyde Park over the summer, The Shelters worked the stage Friday night like seasoned vets. After ending their set with an all-out jam session, it is safe to say The Shelters left the stage with a few more fans than they started the night with.

The Shelters via

The Shelters’ giant amps and equipment were lugged off stage and replaced with palm trees and glowing orbs that made the 25,000 square-foot venue feel a little more intimate. A giant wooden piano that looked fresh out of an old west saloon was positioned on the right side of the stage, which really brought the whole stage together. The Fillmore went dark as a pink neon flamingo lit up on top of one of the amps. On the other side above the drum set, a pink neon sign reading “Signs of Life” slowly faded on as Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” was blasted through the speakers.

The folk-rock six piece returned to The Fillmore stage for the second time in under a year and were greeted by deafening applause. The band showed their appreciation for all the support they have received in Philly over the years before getting into their set.

Concerts are my thing and in my twenty years of life, I have been to quite a few. One of my favorite ways for a band to start their set is by playing one of their most popular songs right out of the gates. Much to the crowd’s delight, The Head and the Heart opened their set with their hit song, “All We Ever Do.” There is just something about seeing a band play a song that most bands would stash at the end of their set, but then surprise the audience and actually play it first. It acts as a way to jumpstart the crowd in between the opening band and the main act. “All We Ever Do” is a perfect song to introduce the crowd to the talent of each individual in the band; you can distinctly hear every instrument from the piano to the violin.

As The Head and the Heart played through the first few songs of their set, the band’s presence and demeanor was visibly off. The absence of co-frontman, Josiah Johnson altered the band’s dynamic since their last show at The Fillmore. Johnson is currently on hiatus from the band as he recovers from struggles with addiction.

The Seattle natives quickly found their rhythm as the band moved into the heart of their set. Pun intended. Russell, commented on how after watching The Shelters perform, that The Head and the Heart feel the need to pick up the tempo a little bit. The co-frontman and gifted guitarist stayed true to his word as the band rattled off two hits off their sophomore album with a bit of an edgier electric guitar sound than the studio recordings of “Another Story” and title track, “Let’s Be Still.”

The Head and the Heart via

Their set list was perfectly assembled with fan favorites and songs from each of their three albums evenly distributed throughout the seventeen-song set. The highlight of the night came from the mid-point in the set when Russell softly sang the opening lines “Put your dreams away for now, I won’t see you for some time, I am lost in my mind, I get lost in my mind.” As the tempo of the chart-topping song “Lost in My Mind” gradually increased, the band had the audience swaying and stomping their feet to the beat of the kick drum.

Touring for the past year in support of their third album, the band appeared well-rehearsed, moving through their set effortlessly from song to song with no sign of fatigue. With Charity Rose Thielen exiting the stage for the remainder of the main set, the guys of The Head and the Heart brought the show to its end performing “Sounds Like Hallelujah” and “Down in the Valley” from their self-titled debut album.

As most acts usually do, The Head and the Heart made the crowd really work for an encore. After a good five minutes of cheering and applause, Russell returned to the stage. With a single spotlight overhead, Russell mesmerized the crowd with a stirring acoustic performance of the never released song “Up the Coast.” Not leaving him alone for long, the band joined Russell on stage and performed the rest of the encore before closing the show with the emotional record “River and Roads” that left many audience members in tears.

Whether the band will ever reach the heights of their fellow folk rockers remains to be seen. What is certain though, is that The Head and the Heart have mastered their craft and have found a second home in the City of Brotherly Love.


  1. All We Ever Do
  2. City of Angels
  3. Ghosts
  4. Rhythm & Blues
  5. Another Story
  6. Let’s Be Still
  7. Take a Walk
  8. Lost in My Mind
  9. Winter Song
  10. 10,000 Weight in Gold
  11. Oh My Dear
  12. I Don’t Mind
  13. Sounds Like Hallelujah
  14. Down in the Valley


  1. Up the Coast
  2. Library Magic
  3. Rivers and Roads