Do You Want to Dance With Me

Ha Ha Tonka Performing at the Fonda Theatre

The night of Thursday, March 30, 2017, I was out again to see Ha Ha Tonka and Old 97’s, this time at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Some people may question seeing the same bands at shows on consecutive nights. I find that if I see the same bands and even if they keep to the same or a very similar set list, there are elements of the performance and the overall experience that still make it worthwhile for me.  The previous night I had seen the bands at the venue nearest to where I live, Saint Rocke, which you can read about in my post “Remember Back When You Got Lost With Me.”  Hollywood is somewhere between a half hour and an hour’s drive away from me, depending on the traffic. There were a few of the same fans there, but mostly it seemed like a different crowd. Still, being L.A., people rolled in late to the show, even though it started after 9pm.

Lead Singer Brian Roberts of Ha Ha Tonka

The most notable difference in the two concerts was that during the middle of Ha Ha Tonka’s set there was a power failure. I immediately took out my phone and shone the flashlight toward the stage. My phone has a ridiculously powerful flashlight and on its own it lit most of the center of the stage. Pretty soon other people were getting out their phones to provide additional light.  The members of Ha Ha Tonka took it in stride and headed for the front of the stage to perform an a capella song and when the lights were still not back up after that one, they played another old song that worked fine with acoustic guitar and handheld percussion. That moment where it all went dark brought the audience together. People who had been talking in the back stopped doing so and the whole room got very quiet and people huddled closer to the stage area. It brought focus on to these performers and I believe sparked greater appreciation in the audience members. Ha Ha Tonka announced that they will be playing again in Los Angeles in November.

Lead Guitarist Brett Anderson of Ha Ha Tonka

Their set was as follows:

  1. Race to the Bottom” from Heart-Shaped Mountain
  2. St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor” from Buckle in the Bible Belt, after the song they mention they are from Southern Missouri
  3. Everything” from Heart-Shaped Mountain, link is to the recently released official video for this song
  4. Height of My Fears”  from Heart-Shaped Mountain, Brett on mandolin
  5. LIGHTS OUT, band goes to front of stage for “Hangman” an old folk song, sometimes called “Gallows Pole,” sung a capella, from Buckle in the Bible Belt
  6. Old Bill Jones” still at the front of the stage with acoustic guitar and tambourine, lights came back on after this song
  7. 12 Inch 3 Speed Oscillating Fan” cover of a Red Meat song
  8. Rewrite Our Lives” from Lessons, the band encouraged everyone to sing along to the “yeah” part of this song.
  9. Usual Suspects” from Death of a Decade, after the song Brian remarked, “Not everybody knows our band so we’re going to close on a song that everybody knows.”
  10. Proud Mary” cover of the Creedance Clearwater Revival song
Bass Player Luke Long of Ha Ha Tonka

If you’ve got a good formula, why mess with it? It didn’t bother me that the Old 97’s went on to play nearly the same set as they had the night before — this was spectacular set of some of their best songs, including a chunk of songs from the new album. The band appeared to be even more energetic and enthusiastic than the night before. Ken seemed to be in a happier mood, Philip’s demeanor was subtly more confident, Murry was both as reliable and as vibrant as ever in his bright red western-style shirt, and Rhett was bursting with exuberance and having fun moving around the larger stage.

Bassist Murry Hammond of Old 97’s

The set list at the Fonda for Old 97’s included:

  1. Four Leaf Clover” from Hitchhike to Rhome and Too Far to Care
  2. Dance with Me” from Blame it on Gravity,  I’ve used a line from this song as the post title because of a dream a few nights after this show where Dream Rhett said to me, “Never mind those people, come dance with me” with the implication to not be afraid to have fun, no matter what is going on around you. Even Dream Rhett provides words of wisdom!

    Lead Singer Rhett Miller of Old 97’s
  3. Nashville” from Most Messed Up
  4. She Hates Everybody” from Graveyard Whistling, link to someone’s video clip from this show
  5. Salome” from Too Far to Care
  6. W. TX Teardrops” from Too Far to Care, old video at the link
  7. Lonely Holiday” from Fight Songs, this song was added to the list for this show.  I appreciated it because this tune has been in regular rotation as a song I play on my own guitar.
  8. All Who Wander” from Graveyard Whistling, link is to video I shot at this show, though the sound quality isn’t great because of my close proximity to the stage and for some reason my camera had trouble focusing when I first pressed the record button.
  9. Big Brown Eyes” from Too Far to Care and Wreck Your Life
  10. Good with God” from Graveyard Whistling. After the song, Rhett talked about seeing X when Old 97’s were on their way up and how the Old 97’s toured with Ha Ha Tonka 10 years ago when they were starting out and how he enjoyed seeing them grow as a band. How he really felt now like he was a part of a cycle of music history.

    Guitarist Ken Bethea of Old 97’s — love the sound he gets out of this Gretsch!
  11. Longer than You’ve Been Alive” from Most Messed Up
  12. Stoned” from Hitchhike to Rhome
  13. Valentine” from Fight Songs
  14. Buick City Complex” from Satellite Rides
  15. Bad Luck Charm” from Graveyard Whistling
  16. Barrier Reef “from Too Far to Care
  17. Nobody” from Graveyard Whistling
  18. Rollerskate Skinny” from Satellite Rides
  19. Jesus Loves You” from Graveyard Whistling
  20. Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On” from Most Messed Up
  21. Doreen” from Hitchhike to Rhome and Wreck Your Life
    Drummer Philip Peeples of Old 97’s


  22. ENCORE “Question” from Satellite Rides
  23. Victoria” from Hitchhike to Rhome and Wreck Your Life, this replaced “The Other Shoe” that was played as the middle encore number at Saint Rocke
  24. Timebomb” from Too Far to Care

I’m keeping this post short. I’ll just leave you with one last photo.

Ken Bethea and Rhett Miller of Old 97’s