Friday, August 19, 2011

Show Review: The Dear Hunter Headliner Featuring O'Brother and Deas Vail

Seamless transitions dominated Jammin' Java on August 14th, 2011, as The Dear Hunter and friends took over the venue. As the band's first headlining tour after releasing the nine disk The Color Spectrum, the majority of songs came from this widely varied collection of music. While it seems almost impossible to move from one style to another to even another in the course of three songs, Casey Crescenzo and the rest of The Dear Hunter did so without missing a beat, hopping from one end of the spectrum to the other side without losing momentum in either the band or the crowd. O'Brother and Deas Vail supported The Dear Hunter perfectly, launching off magnificent sets on the road to the crown performance of the night.

If Satan wanted a band to create the soundtrack of Hell, O'Brother showed that they could be the first in line. Dream catchers hung across the instruments, and little eye contact was made by the entranced band members. While not often considered a "heavy" band, their live performance felt heavier than even the craziest of death metal bands due to their emotional atmosphere and powerful instrumentals. But the most amazing part about the band is their ability to move from these hard-hitting sections to ambient interludes in a matter of seconds. Bassist Anton Dang showed that O'Brother values their classical influences just as much as their heavy ones, moving from crunchy, distorted riffs to bowed segments in the same song. After playing a couple songs off their EP The Death Of Day, the band proceeded to play three songs from their upcoming record Garden Window, which the band said would be out in October. The songs were all fantastic, sticking to the band's usual style while still feeling like a progression in sound. There's no doubt that Garden Window will be absolutely fantastic, and is a definite album of the year contender. Their brilliant live performance only gave reassurance to that.

Deas Vail was a late addition to the tour, and despite their more mellow sound, they meshed perfectly between the other two bands. Wes Blaylock's falsetto immediately won over the crowd, as he stood out as easily the best pure vocalist of the night. Luckily, he knew this and took advantage over it, finishing one of the songs with an a capella part, which may have been the most chilling and beautiful moment of the night. Combined with wife Laura's wonderful harmonies and key parts, and Deas Vail added some beauty to what was more of an intense show. But don't discount the rest of the band, as they were the backbone behind this wondrous couple, pushing the performance from merely great to spectacular.

While The Dear Hunter may not have had as noticeably stunning a set in the aspect of pure performance as the other two bands, their ability to move through their diverse discography showcased the band's ultimate talents, as well as Casey Crescenzo's songwriting genius. Beginning with the grimey, electronically based Black, The Dear Hunter played through the first three colors in order. Drastic mood changes such as between the classic rock-like "Echo" from Orange to the theatric "Mr. Malum" of Violet   seemed surprisingly easy, and were common throughout the whole performance. All six members on stage showed the ability to play their instruments in every possible way to satisfy the needs of every different style, which was the most jaw-dropping realization of the entire night.

While Casey stated that the tour was mostly to play Color Spectrum songs, he still mixed in a couple older songs. The crowd was obviously pleased that he decided to do so, as songs off Act II and Act III received the largest cheers of the night. "The Church and the Dime", "Smiling Swine" and "The Thief" were all massive hits, as well as some of the best played songs of the night. Casey also surprised the sold out crowd with a little gift, moving the rest of the members of the band off stage, leaving just himself and a guitar. Playing "Things That Hide Away" off Green and "Black Sandy Beaches" off Act II, the intimacy of this segment of the show just further showcased Casey's musical abilities and variety. The band then rejoined him, for the final two tracks, closing with a rousing version of "Red Hands". As Casey walked off the stage doused in sweat, water dripping from his absolutely gorgeous beard, it was clear that there was no possible way any more energy could have been put into the set. However, in a matter of minutes, Casey was just as composed and energetic as he was when the set started, and was out in the venue to meet fans. Another seamless transformation. And a perfect end to a perfect show.

The Dear Hunter Facebook
Deas Vail Facebook
O'Brother Facebook

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