The Dear Hunter came on 15 minutes later than the schedule posted at the front door of the Paradise Rock Club promised. But the project's ringleader, Casey Crescenzo, has such a cult following around him--especially in Boston, the epicenter of his musical beginnings--that the rest of the audience probably didn't care much. The band was set up in an alternate formation, as a three-piece with Cresenzo stationed at his lead vocal position with keys and two guitarists accompanying him. This setup was rather refreshing, actually; it dialed down the band's proggy tendencies in favor of really tasteful arrangements, with sparkly post-rock ripples here and there. Hell, I've seen the band play a handful of times and think I prefer this over their normal routine. It helped instill a really serene and smooth feel to the set, but Crescenzo still managed to employ some of his more dynamic traits, as he was simply belting it out during "His Hands Matched His Tongue." His voice ranged from hushed lows to the signature touches of those practically operatic, wailing highs. Actually, there were times his voice reminded me a lot of Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull; given their recent work together on the Red EP, and a new collaboration brewing between them, you can't help but wonder if some influence rubbed off.
Excited murmurs fluttered about the crowd when they would recognize opening notes or lines from fan favorites, and when they essentially provided the "ba ba"s for "Red Hands," you could tell they were locked in. That made it all the more exciting for them when Crescenzo announced a special show at the Somerville Theatre where the band would be playing the entirety of their epic release, The Color Spectrum--a whopping 36 songs over the course of two-and-a-half hours. As a casual fan myself, I was satisfied with this little support set slice that still spanned a near-hour.
Set list (7:15-8:09):
Fall and Flee
The Church and the Dime
His Hands Matched His Tongue
Things That Hide Away
Black Sandy Beaches
[not sure, but he's been closing with "The Collapse of the Great Tide Cliffs," so most likely that one]
Anthony Green and the members of Good Old War, who back Green on most instances, walked out onto the stage just shy of 20 minutes later. And frankly, Green looked hyped when he came out, smiling and slapping high-fives all across the front row. Green was in clearly positive spirits, cracking sexual jokes slightly classier than a Blink-182 set would offer, and generally offering affable chatter between songs (spoiler: He declared "Can't Have It All at Once," which he wrote, to be one of his favorite songs ever) when he wasn't busy lending his ethereal singing voice to fan favorites like "Babygirl" and "Stonehearted Man."
But a lot of credit should be lent to Good Old War, too: Those dudes are just talented as hell. I remember watching Days Away open for Finch in Aug. 2004 and just being floored by the work from drummer Tim Arnold. Years later, little has changed, as Arnold spiced up songs like "If I Don't Sing" with some mesmerizing, subtly intricate stickwork. The rest of the band helped flavor the songs with a variety of styles, from folk to blues to dub ("When I'm on Pills") to psych-rock (noodly soloing in the bridge of "Stonehearted Man"). Hell, they even elevated "Babygirl" with a punky, double-time bridge where Green may or may not have incorporated lyrics from Elvis Presley's "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You"...I'm not entirely sure. He definitely sang "I want you" and "I need you," so maybe?
Green, who played guitar just about the entire set, slung over the shoulders of a nice, red plaid button-up, left his instrument aside for "Right Outside" and "Big Mistake" for some more intimate, involved crowd interaction. He would tend to grab the random hands (X'd up to indicate their inability to legally consume alcohol) of his fans for support as he leaned over the crowded front rows. Nice metaphor. While the entire band left the stage after "Can't Have It All at Once," the charismatic singer came back barely a minute later for a solo rendition of "How It Goes." Then, facilitating one last bit of audience participation, he divided the crowd up into halves for closer "Devil's Song (This Feels Like a Nightmare)," having each sing a different line, creating a relatively interesting wave of overlapping melodies from one part of the room to the other. It capped off quite a set, and overall night.
Set list (8:28-9:39):
She Loves Me So
If I Don't Sing
Underneath the Moon
Get Yours While You Can
When I'm on Pills
James' Song [solo]
Every Way [solo; Circa Survive "cover"]
The First Day of Work at the Microscope Store
Can't Have It All at Once
How It Goes [solo]
Dear Child (I've Been Dying to Reach You)
Just to Feel Alive
Devil's Song (This Feels Like a Nightmare)