The Family Crest at the Great American Music Hall, by Kate HaleyThe Family Crest (photo: Kate Haley)

Last Thursday night, Great American Music Hall was a home-grown happy zone for hundreds of eager audience members and longtime fans of the Family Crest. Just a few days earlier, the band released The War: Act 1, their first major release in four years, and the crowd was riled and ready to celebrate.

The Family Crest is a dynamic band with a catalog of dynamic songs. The rich, atmospheric indie rock geography of each song was well supported by trombone, cello, violin, bass, guitar, drums, synths, and flute. Singer Liam McKormick's gorgeous and versatile voice — a centerpiece of the band's sound — was as nimble and rich in quality on the opening number, "To Love You," as on the final encore, "The Mighty Echo," nearly 90 minutes later.

Fans sang along and danced; one couple towards the back took up a strange meld of tango and swing dance while echoes of Arcade Fire and Beirut swirled around us all. The band played many of the tracks off The War: Act 1, (having fallen under the spell of the album myself, I do wish they'd played them in order), peppered with personality and overflowing with talent.

Opening band Goodnight, Texas brought a romping, lyrical set of Americana songs that veered country or folk depending on the tune. Instruments were swapped — mandolin, banjo, and all kinds of guitars were used — and voices melded into rich harmonies. Named for the real Texas town of Goodnight that was once the midpoint between the band's two frontmen Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf, the band also just released an album, Conductor, on April, 6. They were perfectly at home on the Great American stage, conjuring historical echoes of their own, but from a different, longer-haired era, namely of the San Francisco folk-rock legends of the '60s and '70s.

As a final word, it's worth mentioning that the crowd last Thursday night was a veritable who's who of local musicians. When bands command the respect of their peers, there is something very right going on. The two bands hit the road together for a host of shows in May across the US.

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