The venues in The Twin Cities have become my home away from home. Hell, I spend more time at venues than I do at my own apartment majority of the year so I like to feel comfortable and at home while at them. The Armory is a venue that I had very few expectations for when it opened. With it’s huge size, I knew it was going to be hard to make it feel like home but something about it has a very homey feel. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to the show last night, because I did, but I was honestly looking forward to it more because of the venue as much as The Head & The Heart. After being greeted by their friendly staff and fast-moving security, I found myself in the larger than life hangar like venue waiting for the lights to go down and the music to start.
The infectious alternative almost indie pop-punk band Grouplove opened up the Wednesday night show with a sense of fury and passion that I instantly fell head over heels for. Sure, I know of Grouplove’s sound “Tongue Tied” and I would be lying if I said that wasn’t one of the songs I blare in my car while trying to get through traffic after work but other than that, I knew very little about this Los Angeles based five piece group. With three albums dating back to 2011, these guys are not an especially new band but also not seasoned veterans. That being said, somehow their live show came off like I was watching musicians that have been doing this for years and that added a sense of magic to their hour long opening set.
With flawless covers of both David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”, Grouplove proved that they are so much more than just their radio hits. The passion that radiated from all of the members was undoubtedly bigger than the giant venue they were playing in. I could easily see them playing an arena show but, at the same time, dream of the day I can see them in a more intimate setting. The energy was electric as singer Hannah Hooper danced and boogied across the stage. There was something infectious about her dancing and there were times where I found myself dancing around in my little bubble like a complete fool without even knowing the music. She was the type of performer where, when she said to clap, you clapped. It didn’t matter if you came to the show to see them or if you had negative feelings towards this band when walking it, you clapped. She commanded the packed audience with ease creating an atmosphere that felt more like a show at First Avenue than a show at a giant empty hangar.
Headlining the Wednesday night show was the one and only The Head & The Heart. I only know a couple of songs from these guys but the chill vibe that those songs convey while still being completely unique and utterly The Head & The Heart was more than enough to have me excited for their set. Hailing from Seattle, Washington, THATH formed in 2009 and have released three albums since then. With their music in a couple of films and a few TV shows, THATH seem to be constantly buzzing while still staying a bit underground. Sure, they have some songs on the radio but they aren’t conquering the airwaves like other bands in the genre are. That may sound like a bad thing but it seems to work in this band’s benefit creating a sense of mystery and even more hype around them.
With a nearly twenty song set, THATH had the audience in the palm of their hands. People were singing along to every word of every single song and, although I couldn’t join in except for some of the bigger hits, I found myself longing to be part of this. I feel like that’s the magic of being at a concert where you know very little about the band. Being lost all alone in a sea of people where the music means absolutely everything to them is a feeling that just can’t be put into words. I’m typically on the other end of the spectrum where I’m shouting out every word of every song with a sense of passion and fury so watching other people have that experience is truly amazing.
THATH’s live show wasn’t super exciting but it didn’t need to be. The six members all seemed to stay in their portion of the stage without much movement but somehow that worked. Even though I usually want energy and band members running around like maniacs, that just wouldn’t have fit the chill vibes that THATH were playing. Their stage presence matched the music perfectly and within a couple of songs I had come to terms that this would be a show where it was much more about the music than the crowd and I was honestly okay with that. Instead of watching for crowd surfers and drunkards being taken out by security, I was able to truly pay attention to the music and, as weird as that sounds, it was a bit of a different experience for me.
Find a venue that feels like home. When you find that, there’s no such thing as a bad show.