The Dear Hunter at the Bottom Lounge
Back in dickety-naught-seven I was staring at a pile of CDs that were being given away – an offering from the labels (or was it some booking agent?) to promote their wares. I happened to grab Act II: The Meaning of, and All Things Regarding Ms. Leading. I don’t particularly remember why I was drawn to it. I do remember putting it on and being shocked by the ambition of the project. Fast forward to 2012 and The Dear Hunter is now with the Shure endorser family. I went to the Bottom Lounge on Friday the 22nd to see my first live show by the band I’d now been listening to for five years.
The line for the show had already formed outside the doors when I met Casey Crescenzo in the restaurant portion of the venue mid-afternoon. He was about as nice a person as you could meet. I did gush a little bit about his music upon meeting him, for which he offered humble thanks. If you’re not familiar with the band, the first thing to know is that Casey is the band. The Dear Hunter is his project. His productions are sonically sublime and refreshingly big at times. It can be punk-ish here, vaudevillian there, and all bits of the spectrum in between. The instrumentation is diverse and dynamic. Surrounding him are a large cast of players and collaborators, many of whom are themselves extremely talented multi-instrumentalists. How, I wondered, does one bring a show that could easily be spread across fifteen or twenty players on the road?
I picked his brain during our interview on such things. “When I’m in the studio I don’t think too much about how it needs to be performed, because [the studio is] my favorite thing – songwriting, production, and engineering. I love playing live but that really is sort of the effect of writing the music. I don’t sit and envision the live show first. At the end of a record when it comes time to play it live it really takes re-working it completely – knowing that you can’t have a horn section, a string quartet, a group of background singers, a harpsichord, a mellotron – all of those things. Luckily I have been able to surround myself with musicians who are really comfortable switching between different instruments. Also from time-to-time with the range of music, with the styles we play, we can kind of decide to be whatever band we want for whatever tour we’re doing. So on a tour like this we decided to be a little bit more of a rock band, a little less of the experimental and orchestral side of what we do, whereas on another tour we might want to be more of a folk band or whatever really makes sense to do.
“Definitely there are times when I will be playing a song and in my head I can hear what’s not there and I am longing for that. But I figure at some point, somewhere down the line, hopefully I’ll be able to do that. We did one show recently that was our whole Color Spectrum release from start to finish. We had a string quartet and there were about ten total people on the stage and that felt like a giant step towards realizing what the band should eventually be.”
We went on to talk mics. He expressed a particular fondness of the SM7B – a model we seem to be hearing a lot of from our friends and customers as of late. We’ll have the interview on our YouTube channel soon.
Now having seen the show I can report that, while the performance may not have had chimes or harpsichord or an eight person choir, it was very, very impressive. I look forward to seeing what the next time brings. And the time after that. And the time after that…