Donora: Perfect Sunny Pop For a Summer Afternoon

Vocalist Casey Hanner performed with Donora despite battling a cold.

Vocalist Casey Hanner performed with Donora despite battling a cold. Photo: Heather McCracken

If Donora’s Casey Hanner was struggling with the effects of a cold, it wasn’t showing.

The vocalist fronting three-piece indie pop group Donora at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival on Wednesday afternoon was in fine voice throughout the 45-minute set.

She told the crowd that while performers shouldn’t apologize or acknowledge not being in peak form, she did have a confession to make:  “I need to tell you guys that I’m really high on cold medicine right now. So it’s all a bit of a blur.”

Then the younger Hanner sibling (brother Jake is in the band) launched into “If You See My Boyfriend” (“… tell him I left him for someone who wants to hold my hand”) from the 2011 release, Boyfriends, Girlfriends.

The crowd was in its own happy blur – enjoying a sunny, just-hot-enough afternoon on the grass in front of the Dollar Bank Stage at Point State Park, while drinking in Donora’s sugary, catchy pop.

A small group of enthusiastic dancers were kept on their feet during Donora's set.

A small group of enthusiastic dancers were kept on their feet during Donora’s set. Photo: Heather McCracken

Donora opened the festival’s music line-up for the evening, ahead of Seattle band Hey Marseilles and headliner Milo Greene.

Casey Hanner is undoubtedly the life of the band, chatting and joking in her candy-colored printed t-shirt, while the two Jakes—older brother Jake Hanner on drums and bassist Jake Churton – provide the solid foundation for the trio.

Singer and guitarist Casey Hanner plays with brother Jake Hanner (right, on drums) and Jake Churton (left).

Singer and guitarist Casey Hanner plays with brother Jake Hanner (right, on drums) and Jake Churton (left). Photo: Heather McCracken

Together the hometown band hit the perfect note for a laid-back summer afternoon show, performing songs from across their four albums, including ”Float Away” and the title track from 2013’s Play Nice, and “Always Going To Be” from new album Ha Ha Heart.

Their upbeat, melodic pop sound met with an appreciative audience, and had a small but dedicated group on their feet dancing throughout, although most of the crowd were relaxing with picnics.

Casey and Jake Hanner in harmony on the Dollar Bank Stage.

Casey and Jake Hanner in harmony on the Dollar Bank Stage. Photo: Heather McCracken

By the final song, the fast-paced, drum-driven “Boom Boom” from Boyfriends, Girlfriends, the dancers were working up a sweat and even the picnickers were nodding along.

Heather McCracken is a Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist who is very happy to be attending her first Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.