“You know we moved all the chairs out of that middle section so you could get closer, right? Come on now, you can all come up front!”

We left our seats to join the small crowd down center. The stage was littered with stringed instruments, a keyboard masquerading as a wallpapered upright piano, and a drum set supported by salvaged table legs. Tambourines left hanging on the backs of chairs, household rugs on the floor, and a conspicuously barefoot performer confirmed our intuition that the audience was no more a nameless mass of people but a group of friends invited into a family’s life and home.

This family was none other than indie-alternative-folk band, The Hunts. The seven-member sibling group is known for their feel-good folk anthems infused with imaginative, story-driven lyrics. The two of us, Carey (a big fan) and Grace (a new fan), were struck by the warmth of that small but powerful concert.

After The Arcadian Wild opened the concert with their lyrical poetry, crisp harmonies, and captivatingly connected strings, the Hunt family entered the stage. Though the band did not introduce themselves by name, which was hard for Grace as a new listener, their down-to-earth manner made up for the ambiguity.

The setlist was primarily made up of songs from their newest album, Darlin’ Oh Darlin’. Live performance, especially in the front row of a small theater, can simultaneously immerse an audience in the heart-thumping rhythm of the drums, as well as give them an up-close look at details they wouldn’t pick up on in a recording. At the front of the crowd, we got to see Jamison’s haunting echo created by whistling into his mandolin, Jonathan’s momentary breaks from the keys to tap on the xylophone, and the astounding inter-sibling tradeoff between instruments. They were unafraid to have a big sound and an intricate show even for a small audience. Voices and instruments were balanced while also emphasizing individual moments like a fiddle solo, a tambourine, or a unifying “oh oh oh.”

Carey’s highlight (and the band’s most popular song on Spotify) was “Make This Leap” for its imagery-infused storytelling about the fears that come with falling in love. Grace’s favorite moment was the slower, bittersweet “Travel,” which marked a turning point in the tone of the concert. Vulnerability begets vulnerability, and it was only after this song that they began to share stories about the broken and the beautiful moments in family life. For example, we learned that Jessi was 5 months pregnant and once skipped a concert due to morning sickness; Josh opened up about feeling the absence of their brother Justin, who was interning for a month at a music production studio; some of the siblings ribbed Jonathan for how his chicken scratch handwriting made it hard to read the setlist; Jenni shared that as a child she was consistently told by voice teachers that she would never be a singer, and if it wasn’t for her family, she never would have followed her passion. We experienced one of these family moments as, after one particularly rousing song, the band explained that they were cracking up because they caught their parents swing dancing behind the audience’s backs. Moments like these made it very clear that the family had a deep love for each other, and the audience was given a peek at the inside jokes, joys, and struggles of being a family.

After the concert we were invited to talk to the performers, another testament to their openness and approachability. They were just a family who enjoyed making music together, in their living room or at a music festival. A fellow fan we met described their music as a hug that then pushes you out the door to go do something and get on with your journey. We agreed. Their warm sound engulfed us like an embrace, yet their lyrics and steady driving beat inspired us to keep marching through life knowing that the people we love are always supporting us.


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