On tour with Ha Ha Tonka- Day 2; March 30, 2011; KEXP studio and the Tractor Tavern, Seattle
It was another dreary day and we had to be on the road by 8 am to make it to the KEXP studio in Seattle by 1 pm. There was some confusion as their slot kept getting pushed back by the very tardy Puerto Rican band that was supposed to tape before them, in fact they were so late that eventually Ha Ha Tonka had their original time slot back. I don’t listen to the radio, even exceptional internet radio like KEXP, but it was still a thrill to get to see the inside of the studio. The recording studio was cozy and inviting, a medium-sized room, walls covered with tapestries and Christmas tree lights. They set up and had time to extensively sound check before their interviewer showed up to record the half hour segment. They talked about the new record and their appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the Travel channel, interspersed with four songs which sounded amazing. Later in the van, Brian handed me the disc KEXP had given them, “Do you want this? We’ll just lose it.” Silly boy, of course I want it.
With some time to kill before load in at the Tractor Tavern (another of those venues I’ve been wanting to see) we all split up to find something to eat. Luke, Brett and I ended up at Matador, a Mexican restaurant with delicious margaritas and a terrific happy hour menu. Then it was nap time. It probably looked strange to those walking by to see a van full of sleeping people on a busy Seattle street. Then again, it is a music town so no one likely looked twice.
The merch stand at the Tractor was even further from the stage than it had been at the Doug Fir. This was definitely going to be the weirdest part; I’m not used to being this far away from Ha Ha Tonka when they are playing. Hoots & Hellmouth’s merch guy Phil, who was essentially doing the same thing I was (tagging along on tour and trying to be useful), minded the store for me so I could sneak up for a song or two and take some pictures. It was the same line-up as last night and the crowd was even bigger. This was good, because I’d invited several people to the show- an old lab mate, Mark Pickerel and Ian Moore- and struck out on all counts. Oddly enough, I did see someone I knew, though neither of could remember exactly how. Despite my terrible memory for names and faces, Carrie, who also knows Jess from Milwaukee, looked very familiar. It wasn’t till later that I realized she was right, we did go to Lollapalooza together six years ago.
We spent tonight with their friend Scott, who, in another small world moment, is friends with my friend Nick. Since the last time they had been to Seattle Scott had moved to a different, much larger apartment in the same complex, and constructed triple-decker bunk beds in the guest room just for bands. I wish I’d thought of that.
Ha Ha Tonka