This season of Alive After Five has seen a very diverse collection of artists on the Grove stage: some great bluegrass groups, jam bands, a variety of genre bending indie rockers and plenty of contemporary crooners. And even though it may feel like summer is coming to an end—with school approaching, days shortening and August moving steadily forward—AAF is still chugging along, with plenty of opportunities to catch more music 'til the end of September. This week, Alive After Five spreads its wings once again with Southern garage rockers Ha Ha Tonka and local eclectic indie-rockers With Child.
Ha Ha Tonka adopted their name from a state park in the Missouri Ozarks, near their hometown of Springfield, MO. The band gained notoriety with their 2007 debut from bloodshot records, Buckle in the Bible Belt, a boisterous take on stripped-down Southern rock. They followed it up with 2009's Novel Sounds in the Nouveau South, an extension of the four-part harmonies, rollicking back beat and whiskey-soaked lyrics heard on their debut.
No preview of Ha Ha Tonka would be complete without a Kings of Leon comparison. Lead singer Brian Roberts sounds, at times, quite a bit like Caleb Followill of KOL, and the songs are reminiscent of the Youth and Young Manhood era. Except, you get the impression that Ha Ha Tonka pulls more from the Allman Brothers and The Band than The Strokes, and that it would take a lot more than pigeon shit to shut down Ha Ha Tonka's rough and rowdy rock 'n' roll show.
The Dallas Observer once praised the band with, "Ha Ha Tonka caught the new wave of ersatz old-time stompers and pickers churned up by the Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show, but the Springfield, Missouri band rides the twang with an idiosyncratic style and the electric confidence of self-made Ozark shit-kickers."
Opening the show will be local band With Child, a colorful indie rock act whose sound ranges from minimalist electro-pop to traditional Americana/folk music, and who cite the Viking god look-alike and lifelong New York City busker genius, Moondog as reference.