There are two bands with nearly identical names that sound absolutely nothing alike: Deerhunter and The Dear Hunter. Deerhunter is an indie rock sextet based in Atlanta. The Dear Hunter is a prog-rock band from the East Coast with a penchant for concept albums. The one I saw a couple of nights ago was the three-word variation of the name: The. Dear. Hunter.
Before their show at the El Rey Theatre, I chatted with three Dear Hunter super-fans. They told me they had seen the band every time they performed in L.A. over the past four or five years; and that night, they continued their streak. They infallibly showed up at the El Rey Theatre to get their annual fill of epic prog-rock. According to these super-fans, what makes The Dear Hunter’s music so amazing is its emotional appeal; it tells a story. Each of their albums is like a chapter of a book, with common themes running throughout. They talk about betrayal, growing up, and the disappointment of falling in and out of love, which are things every person has experienced in some capacity.
But unlike falling in love, The Dear Hunter’s live show didn’t disappoint. It was a wild and emotional ride from start to finish. All the themes of love and betrayal were there. But they didn’t just come up; they hit you in the face with each punch of lead singer Casey Crescenzo’s piercing falsetto. As one of my new super-fan friends, David Kirsh, said, there’s something very cathartic about Casey’s voice. Even though he sings about painful stuff, the fact that he sings about them (plus the sound of his lovely falsetto) is comforting. He makes you feel like he feels what you feel, as if he’s telling you “me too, man, me too.”
The band transitioned effortlessly from fast and gritty songs, to curiously syncopated mid-tempo tunes, to beautifully gentle power ballads. They also had great stage presence. Whenever they played a particularly heavy song, the bassist would walk over to the drummer, and the two would jam. One of the guitarists would go to the very edge of the stage and engage the audience. Then Casey would throw back his head and wail on the high notes. They were all very entertaining to watch.
To break from the serious tone of their music, The Dear Hunter took some time to humor the audience. Probably the funniest thing that happened was Casey’s final jovial remark towards the end. After thanking the audience for coming to the show, he looked around coyly and said, “I hope this isn’t too forward, but can I have your phone number?” Everyone laughed, and one guy even threw his phone on stage.
Overall, the Dear Hunter put on an incredible show at the El Rey Theatre. It wowed the super-fans and also turned a host of new fans on to their music. 10/10 would see again the next time they come to town!
ASHLEY EADY, INTERN