North Dakota State’s KNDS 96.3 FM collaborated with Jade Presents to bring the Bad Bad Hats to the Aquarium Nov. 29.
The young trio, named after a spoiled kid from the “Madeline” children’s books, is currently on tour in support of their second full-length album, “Lightning Round.” Bad Bad Hats is composed of founding members, front-woman Kerry Alexander and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hoge, as well as new drummer Connor Davison.
Their music is polished and earnest with flavors of pop, like fellow Minnesotans Remo Drive, and the retrospection of Phoebe Bridgers. It is easy to pin them as much older, until you realize the Bad Bad Hats’ former bass player, Noah Boswell, left the band part way through the recording of “Lightning Round” to pursue his master’s degree.
You can chalk up their skill and insightful lyricism to “wisdom beyond their years” if you want to, but let’s face it: people in their 20s go through a lot of s—. These experiences become fuel for Alexander’s songwriting power.
All it takes is a listen to understand why the band was picked up so quickly by Afternoon Records. The label snatched the talent of Bad Bad Hats while the band was still in their first year of existence.
It was a pleasant sight to see the Aquarium so full even for opening act, local favorites Free Truman. The sisters overcame a major setback earlier this year when their car window was smashed and a thief made off with band merchandise and a guitar amp. Luckily, the music community banded together to help raise money to replace the stolen goods.
The crowd was a mix of fans that knew the songs well and tentative newcomers, as the band played through familiar favorites and debuted new tracks the duo had been working on.
As soon as Bad Bad Hats took the stage, it was evident they were a band that provided a whole other experience live. The music hits you right away and creates a feeling of sitting in the basement at an old friend’s house, telling stories and jamming through the night.
Alexander’s Arlo Gutherie-like storytelling between tracks created an easygoing, buoyant atmosphere. Whether it was her comical insight into the song “Nothing Get’s Me High,” or professing her love for her local Super America to the point of immortalizing it in a song of the same name on the 2013 EP “Who Hurts,” the band provided more than just music, much to the delight of attendees.
A band with Midwestern charm and urban appeal, Bad Bad Hats are destined to continue their upward trend in popularity as they tour the country.