August 13th, 2010
So I roll up to the Sunset Tavern right at the start of the Grandtours set. They are already pretty much rocking it hard and I was stoked to see that this Seattle band had some amazing style to back up their sound. The Grandtours set was really amazing, the sound was awesome, it worked really well with the venue. They had some great back and forth with one another as well as the sparse crowd, I think there was a joke made about how they reached the double-digits as far as crowd numbers went. My absolute favorite was that their last song happened to be a killer cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” - blew my mind. Everything worked so well together. Mad props to this band, I checked out their scheduled events and they are playing at the High Dive on the 18th. I definitely recommend checking them out live.
Next was Chris Mills. I liked Chris Mills, really, he seemed like a great guy that you want to be friends with. He had tons of witty banter with the crowd, talking about how much American Airlines sucked, and his song being used in the TV show Criminal Minds, and how that all goes. When he first rolled up on stage his first words were something cool like: “This is how is all started.” Great guy. It was just Chris and the drummer Gerald, and I have just one complaint about their set and that is that the drumming was just too much. There was only Chris’s guitar to match and it was usually drowned by Gerald’s fervent beating of the drums. From what I was able to catch that wasn’t drowned out by the drums was that Chris’s songs are usually about television shows or some other form of media, that is just classic. I really liked his style and felt a little bummed that I couldn’t focus on much else besides the pounding on my brain.
Then there was Ha Ha Tonka… and oh man, they were spectacular. The energy, the mix, the vibe… no really, this band was off the chain- amazing. Everything about these guys worked so well. They would mix up the main vocals, sometimes it was Brian Roberts, sometimes it was Brett Anderson (who has the voice of an angel), sometimes it was all four with Lennon Bone getting off the drums to harmonize the situation. And no matter what you could always hear Lucas Long’s low baritone voice coming through- man if this guy could just sing me to sleep nightly, that would be stellar. Keeping true to their Southern style – Springfield, MO that is- these guys just screamed southern gentlemen. So gracious and appreciative of the crowd, Roberts kept thanking everyone- KEXP, the Sunset, the girl in the front whose birthday it was… And the energy was just mind-blowing for the band and the crowd. A regular dance hall erupted on the more upbeat numbers. The crowd and band got especially rowdy for the final song, which the band came back on and played after a particularly calm number, it was a cover of Ram Jam’s Black Betty, and it was perfect. Everyone just got crazy.
According to Wikipedia, these guys have been playing together since roughly 2003 when they recruited Anderson. And it shows in their live show, they are perfect together, working off of one another with the harmonizing, the riffing, everything. This is definitely one of my favorite live shows thus far of 2010. I got all flustered when Roberts informed the crowd that Ha Ha Tonka would be touring with Rocky Votolato in the fall, the chances of them coming back through Seattle are high and if its true I am stoked-city, and already planning to be there. I would highly recommend catching these guys live.
Again, my apologies- the pictures are crap, I know, the camera is crap.