Ha Ha Tonka
Three groups grace Lawrence with an outstanding performance.
Saturday night at the Bottleneck emanated decadence and I am sorry if you missed even a beat from any of the stage-busting, rip-roaring groups. Each deserves undivided attention:
An open door at 8:00 afforded one the opportunity to catch Kansas City opener, Clairaudients as they dominated a high-energy set. Ingenious guitar effects (Yes, that was a drumstick guitarist Jordan Thompson vibrated across his frets), complex drums sequences, vocal concordance, and a rumbling, reverberating keyboard presence conjures an airtight sound and an unforgettable experience. Though the music can stand alone, a moving, lasting image was the absolute vitality of the members and the incredible immersion in their songs. I was compelled on more than one occasion to mount the stage for some gyration. And, as if these guys need any more praise, I cannot speak enough of the genuinely cordial mien the members as I snagged the set list and a picture. If you haven’t heard of Clairaudients, click on this link as soon as possible.
Reviewer Max Moore (red) with group Clairaudients
Next to dazzle and amaze the Bottleneck audience was Amanda Shires. Southern Drawled and gawgeous, Amanda entranced every soul in the venue with nothing more than her fiddle and violin, a fantastic upright bassist, and a captivating take on alt-country. Tremolo after hearty tremolo and remarkable violin shreds interrupted only by intriguing accounts of her travels and witty interaction with her fans bade all eyes one the stage for the duration of Amanda’s performance. After the show, Amanda was kind enough to introduce me to her tour mate, Stephanie, and the collapsible “puzzle bass”.
Reviewer Max Moore with Amanda Shires
Last, and how dare you even consider the word “least”, to grace the stage was headliner Ha Ha tonka.
At this point in the night, a crowd of flannel waited anxiously for their beloved western-Missouri-derived (See Ha Ha Tonka state park for reference) quartet to emit a sound of any kind. Rest assured that once they did, an eruption of hoots and hollers and sing-alonging reminded one how popular this band is, and for good reason. What a breath-of-fresh-air it is to hear the styling of country music laced with something other than the modern interpretation of it. I swear that with the quick electric guitar and running-through-summer vibes, Ha Ha Tonka is able to create what could be the alt-country tone-equivalent of the Beach Boys or even something as progressive as Vampire Weekend. As a satellite spectator, I was able to see the raging reverence the country mosh pit held under the influence of their heroes. I was slightly embarrassed to be the only member of the vociferous crowd unable to join the incantation of feel-good lyrics atop powerful acoustic and electric guitar harmonies.
Be in the audience the next time Clairaudients, Amanda Shires, and/or Ha Ha Tonka performs.
Written by Max Moore. Tune into 90.7 fm, KJHK.