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Halfway There

SHOW #26: Langhorne Slim with HA HA Tonka at The Bluebird 6/6/12

This kind of snuck up on me. The halfway point. 26 shows down and 26 more to go. I had my doubts when I started this quest out but at this point it seems pretty likely that I’ll be able to pull this off. Now, much as I’d like to go on about how awesome I am at going places where live music is being played I have entirely too much greatness to share with you from this show. Seriously, I can’t think of any show that would have been better for the midpoint of my concert quest. So let’s get right to the music shall we.

HA HA Tonka

The biggest disappointment with HA HA Tonka was that the bass and the drums were way too loud. This made the vocals muddy and all but unintelligible for the first three or four songs. I would catch snippets here and there but for the most part all I could hear was the bass and to a lesser degree the drums. To the credit of the bass player though he seemed to notice the discrepancy because he went over and spoke to the sound man and afterward the bass was toned down and the vocals became clearer, though still not as clear as I would have liked. The drums were still too loud but it seems to me that the drums are quite often too loud.

Vocally these four guys created some really good harmonies when they sang together and the lead signer has this sort of homey simple quality to his voice that added a genuine touch to the songs. Everything they played had this upbeat joyous quality to it that was infectious and drove more than a few members of the crowd to dance. The joyous tone of their music was actually very unique, they rarely really slowed things down, even a song that would start slow, or a song with a toned down or even a sad chorus would launch into that upbeat tempo before long. They were just having a lot of fun up there and it showed.

The highlight of their set was an acapella number that they all sang together. The harmonies they’d been creating here and there throughout their songs were just a glimpse of the vocal chops they showed on that number. It made me wish they had toned down their music a bit and played a few more slow songs so that we could have heard more of it.

Overall these guys were good but could have benefited from a few more tonal shifts in their set. Sometimes you need a nice slow sad song to really appreciate the upbeat ones. It was still a good set though and I’d see them again.

Langhorne Slim

I learned of Langhorne Slim from friends a little over a year ago. They raved about his live performances and I liked what I heard of his studio stuff so I figured I’d give him a shot. No amount of description or studio record listening could have possibly prepared me for what I saw last night though. His live performance was simply breathtaking. There is so much to talk about with this show. I just hope I don’t forget anything.

For starters Langhorne Slim has a really unique voice. Which, I know is often shorthand for ‘bad voice’ but it’s not that. His voice isn’t bad at all but it is wholly and gloriously unique. You won’t find anyone else out there who sounds like him. His unique voice and his raw musical passion combine to create music that cuts straight to the bone. Whether he’s breaking your heart or lifting your spirits his voice just grabs a hold of you and won’t let go until he decides it’s time to let you go. It’s incredible to see.

His voice is great but I don’t want to downplay the energy and the passion that he has either. He really throws himself into every single song he plays and gives every one of the all that he has to give. He dances, he bounds around the stage, all the while wearing his heart and soul on his sleeve. He’s a rare performer, one that must bee seen to be truly appreciated. All I’ve got are these words though and I really hope they are doing him justice.

As if watching Langhorne do his thing wasn’t enough bout halfway through the set he announced a very special guest by the name of Bella. I believe he called her a mandolin wizard. I got pretty excited because (as I may have mentioned here before) I love the mandolin. Then she walked out on stage and, well take a look.

She’s got to be, what, 11 maybe 12 years old? I couldn’t believe it. I’m not sure where she came from, if she’s a local or if she knows the band in some capacity. What I do know is that she one hundred percent deserved to be on that stage. She wasn’t just getting along up there she was owning it. She played with the band flawlessly and her solos were beautiful. It was incredible. What made it even more incredible is that she looked a little nervous but she still brought it. She was just another layer of highlight in this highlight filled show.

Another highlight was the length of the show. They just kept playing and playing and playing and it never ceased being good. From the first note to the last it was remarkable. His band, The Law, supports him well and matches the energy that he brings. One of the reasons I think the set was so long was because he was having such a great time. The crowd was a good one. Almost the entire front section was dancing and there wasn’t a lot of extraneous chatter. Almost everyone there was present in the music and I think the band appreciated it and enjoyed it so they wanted to play more, and play more they did.

Near the end of the show Langhorne came out into the crowd. Just took is mic off the stand hopped of the stage and waded out among us as far as the chord would go. Which, coincidentally was about two feet from where I was standing. Sadly my phone was dying and my already subpar camera wouldn’t use the flash so I couldn’t capture the moment to share. So let me just tell you it was incredible. He sat on the railing of the second section. Let some fans sing along with him and just enjoyed the moment. It was an exceptional way to cap off an exceptional show.

I went in to this show only having heard some of Langhorne Slim’s studio stuff and I left know that I will eventually own every piece of music this man has or will put out. I can also safely say that I never intend to miss him when he comes through town again. I implore you, any and everyone reading this, to go see him. Find him, see him, experience the joy and passion that he brings to his music. You won’t regret it.

Two songs in parting. the first Diamonds and Gold, he played at the request of a fan who printed out a piece of paper requesting the song which was left on the stage next to the mic:

And Colette because, well watch it and you’ll understand:


One comment on “Halfway There

  1. […] I said about Ha Ha Tonka before still holds true. They were still a ridiculous amount of fun to watch. They were still creating […]

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