Ha Ha Tonka
ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Sept. 23, 2011
Ha Ha TonkaZilker Park, Sept. 16
Roots rock's latest saviors come from the Ozark Mountains of Missouri with the peculiar name of Ha Ha Tonka. What makes the young quartet fascinating was on abundant display in a set crammed with effervescent harmonies, churning rhythms, and smart yet entertaining lyrics that draw heavily from latest disc Death of a Decade. Their confidence was brimming midset with an a cappella rendition of "Hangman," which lead singer Brian Roberts lightheartedly dedicated to Kanye West and fatefully brought the first raindrops of the weekend. While the mandolin-fueled title track to Death of a Decade has an atmospheric side likely drawing comparisons to other roots-rock come-latelies such as Mumford & Sons, Ha Ha Tonka employs indelible melodic smarts. They finished up with the hit "Usual Suspects," which got the assembled to dance, clap, and sweat themselves into an early afternoon frenzy.