by Jack Diablo
Venue: Edge 17
Date: October 19, 2009
What started as a live review of The Dear Hunter at Murray Hill club/venue Edge 17 quickly turned into something far more extraordinary.
First off, this is Boston’s The Dear Hunter not Atlanta’s Deerhunter, a subtle difference in name, a huge difference in sound. I was there to cover them as I had dropped the ball earlier in the year on reviewing their latest album Act III: Life and Death. At first I was a little hesitant about it particularly because it was scheduled to be held at Edge 17, a venue I am completely unfamiliar with. I have heard stories though. Strange stories about the way the place is decorated, ran, not to mention the clientele. I envisioned shopping mall goth teenagers, fake vampires (especially this close to All Hallowe’s not to mention the premier of New Moon), and a shit-ton of makeup, all casting suspicious glances at my bemused expression. But I figured what better time than now to see for myself.
And then, it came to my attention that they were opening for Thursday. A wave of nostalgia rushed over me and I was back in 2002 hearing screamo for the first time. I’m not ashamed to admit that right there at the beginning, I was feeling the emo thing for a brief (but not brief enough) moment. And I know I’m not alone. Try this little experiment if you don’t believe me. Next time you’re around a group of males in their mid-twenties who profess, or have ever professed, to be in a band, Put on Taking Back Sunday radio on Pandora and see how many of them groan yet sing every lyric to “Tell All Your Friends.” Those of us who were out of high school when the emo thing happened have an entirely different perspective than the poor kids who were forced to suffer through it during their most formative years. We weren’t really going to malls anymore (unless you worked at one) so we missed all that merchandising, all that marketing that somehow made it the cool thing to do eventually leading to its quick and inevitable demise. Except apparently, it isn’t really dead. Hot Topic still seems to make quite the killing when it comes to hawking over-designed t-shirts and terrible fashion accessories. Don’t even get me started on the haircuts. There were even grown-ass men in tight jeans who spent more time on their hair before coming to the show than my ex-wife.
As far as the venue went, I have to admit that I was actually a little impressed. It’s certainly set up better than some of the other venues in this town that attract mid-level acts. It’s probably a bit too big though and would make a smaller crowd seem miniscule. Also, the stage is way too high, something I simply can not abide. A stage should be just high enough to step onto to launch yourself over the front row for a little crowd-surfing. Anything more than that should be reserved for festivals and arenas, end of story. The decor was no where near what I anticipated, but very simple. Even the bay of couches in the back were positioned so that the stage was still visible. I did hear some nasty horror stories about the bathrooms though. Really nasty stories.
The Dear Hunter took the stage first. Their music is a blend of progressive rock with a hint of lead singer Casey Crescenzo’s post-hardcore roots but it comes off as easily palatable and slightly poppy. Think a less obnoxious Coheed & Cambria, which is appropriate since the Dear Hunter’s discography is a conceptual story of the birth, life and death of the band’s title character. Their latest release is the third installment of what is set to be a six-album opus. There is a heavy emphasis on vocal melody and harmony to the point that Crescenzo seems to practically croon over relatively heavy riffs and complex rhythms. Although not my style, I found the show entertaining and definitely preferable over comparable groups like. The Dear Hunter have an applaudable concept going for them and if this is your style of music, you owe it to yourself to check them out. During their set there was a lot going on on stage which always makes for an enjoyable performance. It seemed like a few technical difficulties threatened to destroy their show, but the band took it in stride and was appreciative of the audience. A lesser group of prima donnas would have berated and attacked the sound guy (I’ve seen it happen) but the Dear Hunter were determined to give the crowd the show they paid to see and for that, I salute them.
Next up was The Fall of Troy. I’d heard of them but never gave them a chance before and after only a few minutes into the set, I regretted giving one to them at all. Call it mathcore or post-hardcore but I’ll continue to call it fake hardcore. Don’t get me wrong, the dude can shred on guitar and dished out some seriously technical stuff but his voice grated on my nerves like a cat in heat. The kids seemed to love it though, only solidifying the line between my generation and theirs. The only enjoyable moment during their set came when I spied a tiff break out from my post at the bar. I don’t like fighting, especially at shows. Going to a show is supposed to be where somewhat like-minded people come together and should be about having a good time, not proving your masculinity. That being said, I couldn’t resist getting a closer look at the action. It ended up being pretty pathetic and a complete waste of energy on behalf of both parties. Or so I thought. After being let down by the complete lack of engagement, I took a breather outside where some older hardcore kids were gathered. We laughed about what had occurred only to watch each others’ jaws drop when one of the kids emerged minutes later with blood gushing from every orifice of his head! No doubt the victim of some serious sucker-punching, the kid was kicked out while his assailants went scot-free. Shaking my head I went back inside for the finale, Thursday.
In my experience, it’s best not to get stoked about a band that has been around for a while who peaked years ago and remains a shadow of their former selves. Since I haven’t listened to them in years, I had no expectations anyway but looked forward to singing along to the songs I knew. Despite my disdain for the genre and all that it has become, there is something about those old Thursday songs from Full Collapse that just seem to strike a chord. They do an amazing job of building the energy and combining growling screams with melodic vocals that seem to force you to sing along at the top of your lungs. It’s like music for tough kids who are in touch with their softer side. But as much fun as I had singing along to the songs I knew, I simply had no patience for the newer stuff and left before they finished at the behest of my buddy. It was a nice experience, but I can die happy not ever seeing them again.
Show Review: Thursday, The Fall of Troy and The Dear Hunter
by Jack Diablo