Photos: Family of the Year at the Hi-Dive - Reverb

Family of the Year at the Hi-Dive, 4-18-13 (photos, review)

Family of the Year makes music that is as earnest as it is infectious. Regardless of its more pop-oriented past, the indie folk band is among the nu-wave of happy folksters (the Lumineers, Mumford, et al.) that people either love or hate.

At the sold-out (but comfortable) Hi-Dive on Thursday, it was all love for the five-piece as they kicked off the night with the feel-good “Buried” and and the upbeat “Chugjug.” “Buried” was the ideal opener for a night that ended up covering so much ground. The song is short and sweet — saccharine, even, as they plead to be buried with various beloved items (my guitar, my records, my Chucks).

At times, the band is a bit too sweet, yes.

As the one of the two acoustic guitarists went electric for “Chugjug,” there were subtle changes within the band’s sound. But the song, with its winning melody and involved instrumentation, still worked.

“The Stairs” presents the band at its best. Straightforward pop-folk. Simple harmonies, but passionate voices. And a strong live presentation. But when they jumped into the too-happy “Living on Love,” the band again indulged in a too-sweet style of music that surely connects with some (fans of Head and the Heart perhaps?) and misses with others (those who might be tempted to call it “precious”).

Later on in the show, an unmistakable plume of pre-4/20 smoke dominated the air above the happy, dance-y crowd, prompting the singer to quip: “So … pot’s legal.”

Of course the band’s biggest hit, “Hero,” came later in the night, and the Triple A-friendly single made for the night’s biggest singalong. It was a sweet moment, actually: A band that had played to only five or six people in this very same venue in the not-so-distant past, breathing in the sweaty (and sweet) air, taking in the adoration of a sold-out crowd and a single that is taking over radio stations all over the country.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and executive editor of Reverb, the co-founder of The UMS and an award-winning critic and editor at The Denver Post.

Michael McGrath is a Denver area photographer. His work is available at Twist and Shout Records. Visit his website.

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