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The Head and the Heart return to Charlottesville for an evening under the stars

The Seattle-based band encourages an audience “chorus” at the nTelos pavilion on Friday

The slight fall breeze and last few rays of summer sunshine marked the mood Friday evening at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, as students and community members filled the seats and laid out blankets on the grass for a night of feel-good music from The Head and the Heart.

The group opened its set with “Shake,” the first release from their most recent studio album, “Let’s Be Still.”

“You know what I need tonight?” lead singer Jonathan Russell asked the crowd. “I need you to be my choir.”

The harmonies from the crowd came close to paralleling the harmonious melodies of the band on stage singing their second single, “Another Story” off of their latest album.

The crowd was a mixture of diehard fans — in the front few rows, singing along to every song — and casual listeners swaying to the music on the grassy lawn. Everyone joined in singing “Lost in My Mind,” reaching the line “There are stars/ up above,” fittingly under the clear, and unclouded night where the stars were beginning to make an appearance.

The band requested audience members hold up phones or lighters for the song “Let’s Be Still” in an effort to resemble the fireflies fluttering around Virginia summers. A somber vibe filled the crowd with the repeated line, “Just for a moment let’s be still,” as if the entire crowd simultaneously inhaled a breath of fresh air and laid their heads back to enjoy the song.

The peak of the performance came as soon as The Head and the Heart struck the opening chords to “Rivers and Roads,” the song which gained them so much fame in their first album.

“A year from now we'll all be gone/All our friends will move away/And they're goin' to better places/But our friends will be gone away,” the band sang.

The line was sure to resonate in the crowd of early 20-somethings. No voice went unheard when the crowd harmonized on the last lines, singing “rivers and roads/oh rivers and roads/rivers ‘til I reach you.”

The band left the stage with the lights still dimmed. When the crowd chanted for them to come back on, Russell responded by singing a lullaby, written just a few days prior in his hotel room.

“You know that feeling when you meet somebody and you just kinda stare blankly at them and know if there’s any way in hell they could know what’s going on in your mind, they’d be yours?” the lead singer asked. The woman he wrote the song for was not in attendance, but others in the crowd booed her absence and applauded the bold lyrics.

Lightening the mood, the band played “Summertime,” singing “Summertime/ I’ll make you mine,” just as the chilly breeze began to settle in.

The set ended with “Down in The Valley,” inciting much cheer from the crowd and everyone singing along.

“So I wish I was a slave to an age-old trade/ Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways,” the crowd sang together to the closing drumbeats.

The next time The Head and the Heart returns to Charlottesville, it’s sure to be a sold out show.


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