By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez
Indie rock is one of the genres of rock ‘n’ roll that I just do not really understand. To put it in simpler terms, indie rockers are artists that do not have the real backing of a major label, and they have more license it would seem, to create the music they want. Often, pop rock is associated with indie rock, and if you readers know me, I need something hard and heavy. However, on December 2nd, 2017, indie rock took to the center stage of the House of Blues in Anaheim. The headlining act is a band that my mom, God bless her music soul, turned me onto. They call themselves the Dear Hunter, known for blending their indie rock style with sounds of art, progressive, and experimental rock. Joining them on the road, at that time, were other indie rock artists, that included Vava and the Family Crest. It was certainly a show I was not expecting, but Matt and I attended with an open mind, and boy were our minds opened by what we witnessed that night.
Vava, is a one woman show, that has a very interesting experimental pop sound. Led by former singer of LeoLeo, Vanessa Wheeler, she is a tremendous song bird, who throws in different musical cultures, that leave jaws open. Not only can she sing, but Wheeler is a fabulous guitarist as well. Nothing too flashy, but it (her style) is influenced by jazz as well as other musical elements. Personally, if I was going to compare her to anyone, I would say she is a cross between Norah Jones and Florence + the Machine. Multi-instrumentalist Francisco Ojeda brought more flavor to the music. Though difficult to put a genre to her music, there is no doubt she has a lot of talent in her voice and music. I believe Vava is going places. Her debut EP is out now.
Full Vava slideshow below:
Baroque pop group, The Family Crest was next to grace the House of Blues stage. Just like Vava, they have unique sound that almost belongs in a concert in the park segment. Led by Liam McCormick, the Family Crest led the fans into an indie rock jubilee, that had danceable beats. He is a fantastic singer, with a jovial stage presence. From what I witnessed, instead a lead guitarist, they have a lead trombone player in George Samaan. They also have a cello player (Charly Akert), a violinist (Owen Sutter), a drummer (Anthony Franceschi) a flutist (Laura Bergmann), all of whom are classically trained and hold degrees in musical performance. From “The Mirror” to “She Knows My Name” and “Love Don’t Go,” the Family Crest gave the concert an orchestral flavor, that brought the audience joy. San Francisco is richer for producing a group like them, and Anaheim is richer for receiving them.
Full The Family Crest slideshow below:
The Dear Hunter is an interesting rock flavor for my ears. Are they progressive, artsy, indie, symphonic, or experimental? The answer: they are all those genres and more. They were reeling me in to their genius, as soon as they started with “The Squeaky Wheel.” Their leader, vocalist/guitarist Casey Crescenzo has a smooth yet powerful style of singing that could belong in a church choir. They have an awesome guitar duo, Steve Parr and Maxwell Tousseau (Casey’s cousin), who tackle each song with magnificent riffs. Parr was stellar when he went into a solo, while Tousseau was mastering his craft, both on guitar and keyboards. He is a jack of all trades in Dear Hunter. Gavin Castleton is their newest keyboardist, and the way he played was very uplifting to me. Drummer Nick Crescenzo (Casey’s brother) and bassist Nick Sollecito got the crowd moving to the music with their splendid rhythms.
Their songs would range from the radio-like tunes to glorified jam sessions. The Dear Hunter is all about connecting the audience with their music. They have created really good songs that any music fan can enjoy, like “Red Hands,” “Light,” “The Bitter Suite 1, 2, 3,” “Misplaced Devotion,” “All Is as All Should Be,” “The Flame (Is Gone),” and my personal favorite, “The Most Cursed of Hands.” It has this old western rock style, that reminds me of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” eerie but dominant. Their collective musicianship is the stuff that creates magic with the fans. Casey is pure gold, when his lips are on the microphone, reaching the back of the venue for all to hear. They are also goofballs on stage, with Casey and Tousseau taking jabs at each other. They closed out the December evening with “A Night on the Town,” which had the makings of being part of a Broadway musical.
Full The Dear Hunter slideshow below:
I have to thank my mom, Mary, for turning me onto The Dear Hunter. She told me that I should give these guys a chance, I might like it. You know what? I actually enjoyed it very much. The Dear Hunter puts on a spectacular concert event. Along with The Family Crest and Vava, it was night where music came to life. It was weird, because I’m in the House of Blues and I am used to seeing mosh pits forming, with beer cups flying in the air. I was not seeing any of that there, this night. I have to admit, it was a nice change in pace for Matt and I. To Dear Hunter, Family Crest, and Vava, I salute you. Horns up!!!