BY CHARISSA CHE
The Family Crest is one of those bands that’s so good, I had to see them twice. The penultimate time was February of last year, when they opened for Jukebox the Ghost. The lineup made sense: both were seasoned-yet-young troupes with an indie-pop sensibility. Reflectively, the audience ranged from mostly young teens to those in their early-twenties. It was a hormonal, jubilant time.
On December 5 at the Complex, the orchestral septet from San Fran was no less incendiary, but found themselves sandwiched among more unexpected acts: the heart-torn, angsty singer-songwriter VAVA and veteran cult-favorite rock band, The Dear Hunter (not to be confused with Deerhunter, by the way).
It was a relatively low-key night, probably due to finals week. That plus the observation that most people seemed to be there for the headliner, might explain why the bulk of the attendees were older; there was lots of flannel and hipster cuts on 50-somethings. (Also interesting was that there was a sparse amount of women in the audience.)
Anyway, back to the Family Crest. To note, there are a few key differences between this and their 2016 appearance (they’d stopped by at Kilby Court in the interim): their sound seems to have expanded across genres, become more ominous in some parts and livelier in others. In many ways, their stage show is a drastically different experience than their studio recordings. They fill the stage like few other indie groups today, unafraid to toe the waters of the grandiose. Liam McCormick’s impeccable falsetto and Owen Sutter’s violin is the perfect gothic pairing, as heard in “Beneath the Brine.” Throw in George Samaan’s bombastic trombone playing and you’ve got an infectious swing number a la “Howl.”
They’re certainly a band that continues to self-cultivate and experiment, while maintaining a core identity. It will be exciting to see where their next release takes them should they return.
Go here to view photos of all three acts from the show.