In this age of costly ticket prices, delivery fees, and convenience fees, an encore is expected—it’s the band’s comment back to the crowd for how great it is to play in your city. But in the modern music landscape, the Dear Hunter is anything but what one might expect. Front man Casey Crescenzo explained to a packed house Tuesday night how uncomfortable it is to leave the stage for those few minutes while waiting for a reaction from the crowd, and leaving everything ready on stage to start playing again. Instead, he explained to the lively crowd that the group would play their entire set from beginning to end. No one seemed to mind.
Most of the night’s material came from the Dear Hunter’s most recent work, The Color Spectrum [Triple Crown Records], which is made up of nine EPs, each one representing a different color. The project is ambitious to say the least, as each EP is made up of four songs, giving the total collection a runtime of nearly two and a half hours. Needless to say, there was plenty of new material to draw from in choosing the setlist.
Three talented acts opened the show: the Felix Culpa, O’Brother, and Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground. Kay Kay hails from Seattle, and played their first show in St. Louis. With a diverse array of instrumentation, they left a particularly strong impression on the crowd. Afterward, the Dear Hunter took the stage to begin what was about an hour-long set.
The group had no difficulty pulling the audience in, opening with the dark and energetic “Never Forgive Never Forget,” and continuing with the hypnotic “We’ve Got a Score to Settle.” Both songs early on demonstrated Crescenzo’s willingness to push his voice to the limit, and the audience was rewarded for it.
Other highlights included a couple selections from the Yellow EP, which given its lighthearted sound might not have been expected to translate as well to a live setting. Casey told the crowd that this portion of the show was a time to just “have fun.” The crowd responded favorably and joined in during parts of the poppy “She’s Always Singing.” The band also performed “The Thief” and “Mustard Gas” from their 2009 record, Act III: Life and Death [Triple Crown Records], which have been staples of their live show for the last few years.
The crowd was typical of the twenty-something group you would expect to see at the Firebird, with a notable exception. The great-grandmother of guitarist Connor Doyle was a special guest, and nodding along from her seat seemed to be enjoying herself as much as everyone else in attendance. She actually might have gotten some of the loudest applause of the night.
The show finished up with a bluesy version of fan favorite “Red Hands,” and the audience graciously accepted the invitation to sing along. It was the culmination of a great evening of music, after which it is unlikely that anyone felt the need for an encore.