There are few things I enjoy more than going to a concert - especially a small concert. The best shows I've ever seen have been intimate: small crowds in small venues. Whether it was the Rock For Life benefit I helped organize in college featuring the hard rock group Staple or, one of my all-time favorite shows, seeing Denison Witmer at Club Cafe in Pittsburgh (a show so small that we were able to just say what we wanted to hear).
This past Saturday, I was in Steubenville for a friend's wedding reception and decided to attend a concert organized by The Harmonium Project, a group who has set out to revitalize downtown Steubenville "through music, community, and a willingness to serve."
The band I saw, without knowing anything about them, was The Family Crest, described as an "orchestral indie rock band".
Whatever style they are, they sounded fantastic. As soon as I saw a trombone and a cello up on stage, I was thoroughly intrigued, and I was not disappointed.
They played in a whole range of styles. Their opener, "Beneath the Brine," was driving and ominous - not to mention the singing of Liam McCormick. I've never heard a man sing that high that well. He was dead on with every note and continued to surprise me every time he belted out some impossible pitch.
Then a few songs later, they had college students dancing in front of the stage to "Howl" - a straight up swing song. After a quick rendition of "That's Amore" by native son, Dean Martin, they transitioned into an interesting, jazzy song called "The Water's Fine."
The whole show was great and I could talk about every song, but the thing that impressed me most about the band was how they interacted with the crowd. You could tell they loved the enthusiasm of the people watching them. At one point, they had a fan who seemed to know the next song come up on stage and sing along with them.
After the show, I was definitely planning to buy something from them - even when it's easy to get music online, it means something to directly support a band. While waiting at the merch table, I was able to speak to the lead singer. Besides advising me to get their newest album, he also told me that the band recorded the vocals for the album in a Catholic church.
It was a sort of random choice for me to see The Family Crest, but they have gained a fan.
For a good taste of The Family Crest live, check out their NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert: