Let’s be honest.
June 30 is not the ideal time for an outdoor musical festival in Texas, but by some miracle of space and time, Dos Equis Pavilion was just cool enough to forget about back sweat and focus on the Outlaw Music Festival, where The Head and the Heart added some indie folk flare to the mix of Americana and rock that included Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Ryan Bingham, Sturgill Simpson and Texas legend Willie Nelson.
The sun had just begun to create shadows on the Dos Equis lawn as The Head and the Heart took the stage, but massive fans in the covered seating bolstered a stiff breeze to cool those ready to see their favorite soulful indie band. They took the stage with energy and passion despite the heat, and the crowd filled in the seats and began to fill the lawn as the band started to jam.
Busting onto the indie scene in 2011 with their self-titled debut album, The Head and the Heart followed up with two subsequent records, producing eight top-15 adult alternative hits. Though the band met through open mic nights in Seattle, they didn’t seem phased by the Texas summer as they jumped onto stage. Their 2013 hit “Let’s Be Still” from the eponymously titled album, helped ease them into their set, but they picked things up with “All We Ever Knew” afterwards.
The lawn filled in as they played on, with many guests staying backed up against the rear fence’s growing shadow, and others braving the heat and direct sunlight to enjoy the music. The band’s energy propelled them to hop around the stage, with keys, percussion and guitars being traded amongst the band mates. Charity Rose Thielen bounded around, violin in hand, engaging the band members and the audience alike, all while wearing what appeared to be flowing, long-sleeved green silk pajamas. (Yup—fashion isn’t my strong suit…) Bassist Chris Zasche strapped on a harmonica for few songs, showing off his ability to multitask as the band played numbers from their unreleased upcoming record. The song retained their catchy indie sound but was more musically complex, a welcome addition to their repertoire.
Most of the fans may have been at the festival for the later acts, but The Head and the Heart put on a solid show. The man with the “REDNECK” tattoo (in red, on his actual neck) and the two elderly women in red bandanas and sequined Willie Nelson tank tops may have been biding time until Sturgill Simpson and Willie took the stage, but they seemed to catch the groove of the band that leans a little more toward folk than Americana.
Finishing with stripped down “Rivers and Roads,” The Head and the Heart reveled in their sweet spot of a heartfelt ballad to times gone by and the end of an era for a group of friends. Their trademark harmonies swelling as the song built, they sang, “So if you don’t know what to make of this, then we will not relate.” But the song’s theme fitted in nicely with Willie Nelson’s own classic “On the Road Again,” and most of the audience seemed to connect.
Providing some variety but not deviating from the overall theme, The Head and the Heart were a welcome addition to 2018’s Outlaw Music Festival. In fact, this indie band provided the music festival’s softer side.
Will Maddox is a writer from Dallas. He likes taking the long way, getting off the interstate and exploring Texas. He can be found hiking, playing soccer and eating gas station tacos.
Cover photo James Minchin