There was a strange juxtaposition between the grandeur of the lobby of the Eccles Theater—pristine and crisp—and the set-up on the stage—it looked more like a the set from the Zach Galifianakis web series Between Two Ferns with all the potted plants scattered about—when The Head and the Heart played there on Wednesday night. The band took the stage to the sounds of The Eagles “One of These Nights” piped through the sound system—but not before a lighted neon sign lit up the words “ Signs of Light” (the title of the band’s newest album and the name of this tour) in bright purple.
As soon as The Head and the Heart took the stage last night, the crowd—who were collectively much younger than any other crowd will be at the venue this year—took to their feet and stayed there through the night. That’s a strange decision to make in a theater that claims to have no bad seats, but I guess the youngsters weren’t interested in testing that theory.
“It’s f*cking awesome to be playing the first show here,” Charity Rose Thielen, fiddler, told the crowd in a display of eloquence more matched the the aforementioned tacky stage set than the building as a whole.
By the third song a considerable portion of the audience had crowded the stage, including some who chose to stand in front of the front row and others who spilled out into the aisle—while others just parked it in the walkways further back. None of these people were approached by ushers or security at all, from what I could tell.
By the fourth song, some unfortunate sound mixing issues had been mostly sorted out.
And by the fifth song, I lost interest. Now, this may have been because I was madly refreshing my phone to get results from the final game of a historic World Series. Or it may have been that all of The Head and the Heart’s songs sound the same because they all follow the same formula—a quiet beginning, followed by layers of strings, followed by three-part harmonies, followed by a nature reference and a shouted refrain. Honestly, any baseball game would more interesting than an hour and a half of that, let alone a World Series game.
The crowd definitely disagreed. They sang along to “Another Story,” they embraced when the band started the chords of “Lost in My Mind,” they danced to “Down in the Valley,” and trust me, they lost their damn minds when “Rivers and Roads” was the last song of the encore. All under the beautiful star-lit ceiling at The Eccles Theater, which made it less stuffy and more Red Butte-y than I expected to in a large seated venue.
“This is quite a step up from Urban Lounge,” a member of the band told the crowd at one point. I couldn’t possibly agree more—but I think it would serve us all well to remember where we came from.
P.S. And about that theater. This was the first of many Live! At the Eccles shows and there are definitely some kinks to get out of both the security and the sound systems. I called Salt Lake County to ask if standing during shows and near the stage would be a regular occurrence at these shows and they declined to comment. So, I’ll be sure to watch the crowd closely at Friday’s Eccles show.
P.P.S At The Eccles you can bring beer (and snacks) to your seats! And each seat has a cup holder! And if that’s still not enough for you, check out the beer sippy cups you get from exclusive food vendor, Cuisine Unlimited. At the Salt Lake magazine office we have dubbed them the “mini-Zion Ceilings” but I’m sure they’re just to protect all that upholstery. And they are adorable.