Formed in West Plains, Mo. in 2005, Ha Ha Tonka has been releasing albums of Americana-informed indie rock since 2007. Frontman Brian Roberts' gritty vocals and rhythm guitar are accompanied by Brett Anderson's languid lead guitar lines, keyboards and mandolin as well as the workmanlike rhythm section of bassist Lucas Long and drummer Lennon Bone. All of Roberts' bandmates contribute vocal harmonies, adding another layer to Roberts' often heartbreaking lyrics. Their latest LP, "Lessons," continues Ha Ha Tonka's tradition of songs about pain, regret and the learning from one's mistakes.
Performing four standout tracks from "Lessons," this session finds Ha Ha Tonka highlighting their versatility. The title track accompanies Roberts' grit with reverb drenched guitars and spacey keys. "Cold Forgiver" steers Anderson's subtle keyboard lines to dramatic and unexpected payoffs. "Dead to the World" highlights the emotionally charged lyrics and Ozark folk instrumentation that have become this quartet's calling card. The band closes the session with "Colorful Kids," a prime example of their use of intricate vocal harmonies.
This set at KDHX is a showcase of precise yet impassioned performances from a genre bending band Missouri calls its own.
All photos by Abby Gillardi