Written by: Marisa Young
Last Wednesday May 9th at the Somerville Theatre, I had the opportunity to watch The Dear Hunter perform their newest album The Color Spectrum all the way through in it’s entirety. Front man and mastermind Casey Crescenzo is known for his exceptional talent, writing in various time signatures and utilizing intricate polyrhythmic lines. He is also a master of conceptual album writing, as demonstrated through his several previous works.
The Color Spectrum is no different: the album is a brilliantly written compilation of EPs based on nine colors of visible light: Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and White. The full compilation consists of 36-songs; each EP per one color and each containing four songs dedicated specifically to representing that color in a musical form.
Experiencing the two and a half hour long compilation in a live setting was nothing less than exhilarating. The performance was broken into three sections with 10-minute intermissions between each set. Six performers took the stage initially: 3 guitarists, a bassist, drummer, and keyboardist. All players contributed to vocals at various points throughout the entire set. Despite the somewhat obnoxious crowd who felt the need to yell out to the performers during the brief song breaks, Crescenzo kept the talking to a minimum and focused on a professionally respectable presentation of his songs.
Throughout the set, several guest performers played on stage with TDH including vocalist /guitarist Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra and vocalist /percussionist Cameron Thorne. Crowd favorites appeared to be “Misplaced Devotion” off the Yellow EP and “Mr. Malum” off of the Violet EP, the first of which gained a standing ovation from the crowd.
As TDH played through the colors, the lights on the backdrop changed color according to the set list. Black kicked off the performance with a heavy focus on synthesizer melodies and beats with convoluted rhythms. Transitioning into Red, the programmed feel from the synth immediately dropped and the mood was lifted with an upbeat feel and distorted guitar riffs. Orange and Yellow brought forth a mellow and happy feel, which one would expect to associate with such colors. At the beginning of Yellow large yellow beach balls were thrust upon the audience, setting the tone for a light-hearted and fun musical section.
As the performance progressed into sections Green and Blue, the mood was kept calm yet turned to a sadder tune to convey the emotions associated with these colors. The introduction to Indigo brought back the synth as a major instrument as well as the addition of a violin section, which added a new musical texture not previously heard in the set. Violet and White ended the set with the audience intently singing along, engrossed in the TDH’s performance.
Overall, the sold out show was a complete success. Full one-time performances of an entire album is a great experience, one that I wish more bands consider in the future. As for The Color Spectrum, I strongly encourage listeners to put the entire 36 songs on shuffle, close your eyes, and try to guess which color The Dear Hunter was trying to capture through the music. You might be surprised at how well, and how accurately, the band accomplished this task.