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Concert Thu Jul 28 2011

Review: The Decemberists, The Head and the Heart @ The Aragon, 7/25/11

[This review comes to us from writer Niki Fritz.]

The last time The Decemberists rocked our fair city in February, snowmageddon had just howled through Chicago, forcing concert-goers to dig their way to the Riv. The Portland-based band was greeted on Monday night with a slightly different scene, as thousands of sweaty Chicago fans packed into the Aragon, bringing summer energy and a fair share of pit stains. From sold-out concerts in the snow trap of Chicago winter to sold-out concerts in the heat pit of Chicago summer, Decemberists fans prove they are willing to bundle up or strip down to hear the melodious indie rock band sing songs, weave stories and rock out in full suits.

Neither The Decemberists, nor the opening band, The Head and The Heart, disappointed their fans. The Head and The Heart opened with a short but energetic set that infused the crowd with energy and heated up the ballroom. The Seattle band hosts three lead vocalists, each with their own unique tempo and style and each with talent enough to rock the spotlight independently. The diverse vocals, which include the voices of Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell, and Charity Rose Theilen, occasionally gave the band a disjointed feeling, with each vocalist demanding the attention of the audience and making the one lively band seem like three. And yet at other times, the vocals and instrumentals came together so seamlessly the band seemed to become part of the swaying crowd. By the time Charity Rose belted out "Rivers and Roads," the crowd had partially forgotten they were there to see The Decemberists. A spirited group in the audience even attempted to cheer for an encore.

By the time The Decemberists took the stage, the temperature and excitement in the ballroom had heated up. The band opened with a recorded message from the Portland mayor which sounded a bit like a sketch from Portlandia. As the band took the stage, with frontman Colin Meloy in a full suit, you got the sense that the band had done this a few times before; the concert became more of a production than a live performance. While the band seamlessly weaved old and new songs together, it was clear they saved their energy and heart for the classics. In between songs, Meloy chatted with the audience in convincing frontman style, in one breath making fun of "shi" town and in the next offering his fan to cool the front row. At the end of the concert, Meloy announced that the band would be taking a bit of a break. To end what may be their last concert for a while in Chi Town, The Decemberists played a three song encore ending with "The Mariner's Revenge Song" along with the audience contributing their own whale sounds.

Monday night's performance proved that folksy indie rock has a permanent place in Chicago's heart and that The Decemberists and The Head and the Heart are well-worth the sweat.

-Niki Fritz

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Daniel / August 2, 2011 1:12 AM

Great Review! The energy that The Head and The Heart demonstrate on stage is simply electrifying. It is so great that they had the opportunity to open for the Decemberists this tour and expose so many others to the beauty that is their music. For those who have been inspired by the music be sure to check out the fan site created by the fans for the fans. For those who are not yet fans hit up youtube and and give a listen odds are you will not be disappointed.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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