Essay

The Dear Hunter – or – Concerts as a Time Machine

My thoughts on The Dear Hunter at the Anaheim House of Blues on March 11, and other musings.
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Most of my photos are at this angle because I took said pictures with one hand while my other had a beer in it. Sorry, not sorry. I think the Swedish angle works.

I got to see the Dear Hunter at the House of Blues in Anaheim last night, and from their first song to the closing of their set, I was struck with the realization that they managed to cement: they may just be the Pink Floyd of our generation.

There have been a few years since the last time I got to see them, but they still bring it live- if anything the whole group has developed a greater stage presence over the intervening years, and Casey Creszenzo’s voice is angelic as ever. I’m going to recommend giving this track a listen while continuing the rest of my post today. It’s a favorite song of mine that really captures their poeticism, musicality, and Crescenzo’s vocal power.

I made a bold claim up there comparing them to Pink Floyd, but the body of their work and the experimentalism of it really makes the case. They have an entire collection of EPs, The Color Spectrum where each EP of 4 or 5 songs is aimed at capturing the “feeling” of their respective color. Beyond that, they really don’t constrain themselves to any structure of song writing or pop music sound- their music is about capturing something sonically: sometimes an emotion, sometimes a moment in time. Whatever structure the song needs to take to accomplish that, it will- form follows function.

The big surprise of last night was that they weren’t the headliner. They were opening for an utterly mediocre dark metal band that my friend and I gave two songs to win us over, and we both agreed we’d wasted ten minutes giving them that chance. The Dear Hunter was worth the trip though, but we lamented on the way home that because of the band they were opening for, it had influenced their set towards more of their darker/harder tracks and we’d missed out on some of our favorites like Red Hands (above), and in my case Home (from their White EP), and Crow and Cackle (Green).

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I kept trying to catch all the different color floods, but kept missing the rare “verdant green” that only occurred a handful of times.

When this friend and I saw them perform live years ago, they were the headliner. The Dear Hunter closed the show with Red Hands and for the final two minutes of the song, the two bands that opened for them came out on stage to join in the chorus against Crescenzo’s refrain. It’s the kind of experience I can’t possibly do justice and just trying to recall it to describe it is giving me a shiver- it was an overwhelming musical moment.

The Dear Hunter had become and has remained such an important band to me emotionally, and the fact that they- or any band- can affect a person and their awareness of themselves and their emotions, personal struggles, failures and triumphs has always remained with me. I couldn’t help but reference them and their music in the novel I wrote two years ago, Beneath the Wood, and use it as something of an emotional reference point for my main character, Penelope at different parts in the story. (You can purchase said book on Kindle or in Paperback.)

My point is this: The Dear Hunter I saw last night may not have been the same one I got to see all those years ago because they were there to express and accomplish something different (lead in to an atrocious screaming metal group). However, they still took me back to that moment years ago, and in that transfer, I still had that same profound moment of awareness last night of my struggles, my failures, my triumphs, and myself. That’s why I’m here writing this today. That’s why I’m soldiering on. Music can do that, and it does so much more, it’s an artistic accomplishment I admire (in The Dear Hunter especially), and it’s something I aspire to in my own art.

Thanks to one friend in particular (check out her blog and writing here), and a few others I’m blessed to know, as well as bands like The Dear Hunter, I have some great examples of the courage and honesty required to get there. We move forward folks.

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From my desk calendar the day of the concert, coincidentally enough.

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