October 12, 2011

Ha Ha Tonka - Rock and Roll Hotel - October 7, 2011

Last Friday night, Rock N Roll Hotel was the place to be, on paper--with a line-up like Hoots & Hellmouth and Ha Ha Tonka, it was not to be missed!  But in typical DC style, what once was cool has become popular, with giggling twenty-something women replacing hipsters at the once divey music venue.  And don't get me wrong, as a twenty-something woman, I love a good girls night out. But singing Michael Jackson at the top of your lungs, and taking flash-filled self-shots, should not take place at a show where people paid money to get in... there's a time and a place for that.

In fact, it was just upstairs, where a nineties party was happening for free with a near empty dance floor.  Did you hear me, ladies?  EMPTY DANCE FLOOR.  And here I thought the evening would go perfectly.  The friendliest bouncer ever greeted us upon entry, as did the nicest bartender! 

But one speed bump followed another that Friday evening; after the gaggle of giggles came an excessively long soundcheck from Hoots & Hellmouth, a band I had previously seen at a BBQ restaurant.  Not sure if that was the venue's fault, or the band's, but you would forget they were an opener with such an in-depth check.  That being said, H&H once again put on a hell of a show, albeit over the chatter of dozens of the disinterested.  I'm chalking this talking up to Friday night crowd on H Street.

Then the venue randomly emptied, and Missouri-based band Ha Ha Tonka came on, bringing their brand of Ozark folk rock to a somewhat more attentive audience, although a highlight of the set--an acoustic version of Hangman--was drowned out by familiar chatter.  Ha Ha Tonka fits the niche of what my ear's been tuned to lately: Americana with a rock edge in some parts, soul in the others, and a mandolin.  And the standouts from the album also stood out live: The Humorist, Usual Suspects and Death of A Decade... if I have to pick a few.

Really, I woke up humming their songs the next morning, which for me is a mark of an all around good time.  See the scorecard, and a fun youtube video, for more on the show and the band.






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