First and foremost, I’m a rock and metal guy. As much as I love metal, punk and hard rock, sometimes my ears and my body need a bit of a break from the intensity. Luckily, The Dear Hunter, who played to a sold-out New York City crowd at The Gramercy Theatre recently, is just the right mix of alternative rocking, with a bit of a softer touch, that I needed.
The best way to describe the music of The Dear Hunter would be a bit of Muse, a dash of Kansas, and the vibe of Queen, and you have what comes together from the mind of front man Casey Crescenzo. Originally intended to be a side project for music that he had written that didn’t quite fit his primary band at the time (post-hardcore group The Receiving End of Sirens), the music and the group have grown into something unique and special in its own right.
Compared to two days earlier (when I saw melodic hardcore group The Ghost Inside at The Gramercy), when I walked into the venue, I could quickly tell that there was a very different group of people, and there was a very different vibe. Guys still wearing their business suits and ladies in nice dresses made me believe there would likely not be very much moshing and crowd surfing at this show. And honestly, I was okay with that, and its really what I signed up for.
After a nice little set from So-Cal indie rockers Naive Thieves, fronted by well-mustached man, Cameron Thorne, a quaint little stage was set up for The Dear Hunter. With lamps on amps, the overall stage setup seemed to resemble that of one’s living room, only with two keyboards, a drum set, and other musical knick-knacks.
Once The Dear Hunter hit the stage, they dove right in to rocker, In Cauda Venenum. With such lyrics as, “We’ve never been so excited to see you before!“, it gave everyone in the room, fans and band alike, a great opening for the next two hours they would be spending together.
Without stopping, the band pushed through the songs The Lake and the River, The Church and the Dime, and We’ve Got A Score to Settle. When they came to Misplaced Devotion in the set, Naive Thieve’s front man Cameron Throne joined the stage, singing the entire second verse solo, and then sharing vocal duties for the remainder of the song with Casey.
One of my favorite songs of the night was Mustard Gas, one of The Dear Hunter’s heavier songs. The heavy beating of the drums and the bassline had much of the crowd head-banging, a sight I was pleasantly surprised to see.
Of the seven musicians that filled up the tiny Gramercy Theatre stage, one of my favorite to watch through the night was guitarist Robert Parr, who for most of night, stood stage right, and without any shoes on. Frequently, when Casey Crescenzo was switching instruments or grabbing a quick drink between songs, Robert would be the one to address the crowd. At one point, while he was mentioning The Dear Hunter’s new album Migrant, which they had available at their merch table, he overheard a fan shout “I bet that you can fly!“. He responded jokingly, “I can’t fly. None of us can fly. Except Casey. Casey can fly. R. Kelly said he could!”
Another thing to note is that even though Casey is the lead vocalist and front man, the other musicians on stage didn’t just stand around and phone it in. Frequently stage left guitarist Connor Doyle would fall to his knees during a ripping guitar solo, putting all his energy into shredding away. Bassist Nick Sollecito, with his thick beard and black rim glasses, would pluck away at bass in a way that showed he was caught in the flow of the music. Best of all, when Casey would take a seat at a keyboard toward the front of the stage, Connor, Nick and Robert would all make up for the front man being in a static spot, moving around constantly with the music and covering the stage front to back.
For over two hours, The Dear Hunter rocked the Gramercy Theatre, playing songs new and old, many to great reactions. Once they hit the last song of the night, He Said He Had A Story, the crowd erupted. Singing along every word with Casey, and ending with guitarist Connor Doyle stage diving into the crowd. It was a fitting end for a night of rockin’ tunes and good vibes.