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Bad Bad Hats is nerveless at the Neighborhood Theatre

Cover photo by Zoe Prinds

“… as I get older, I find that success isn’t always so easily identifiable,” confessed Kerry Alexander, vocalist and songwriter of Minneapolis’s indie treasure Bad Bad Hats. Their second full-length record Lightning Round dropped early August, and the band has been touring relentlessly since, learning the ways success presents itself. 

While finishing up their debut record Psychic Reader, Alexander jotted down the phrase “lightning round”. Years later, the phrase stuck and is not only the name of their latest release, but a symbol of success in itself.

“I’ve been thinking about success lately, and what that means for myself and for the band,” said Alexander. “I was always the kind of person who coveted good grades and trophies and those kinds of symbols of success. But as I get older, I find that success isn’t always so easily identifiable. It’s a nice little reminder to myself to remember what’s really important in my life and my career.”

Bad Bad Hats‘ live show is not one with confetti, head-banging, or streams of cryo attacking all corners of the stage. Instead, it’s a group of four kids from Minnesota playing songs they’re proud of, connecting with audiences across the country through quirky mannerisms and charming anecdotes.

“When I write songs, I just write what comes to me, what’s inspiring, what I think sounds cool. So, you hope people like it when it’s all said and done.” Lightning Round‘s success has presented itself in the form of crowded venues, meaningful interactions, and merch sales (i.e. a dad hat that literally just says “bad bad”); though what’s more important are the songs themselves.

Bad Bad Hats are out touring Lightning Round and made a stop in the Queen City last night at the Neighborhood Theatre. Hits like “Makes Me Nervous” and “Get What I Want” demanded a spotlight on taboo habits and uncomfortable questions, while the band put a twist on the endings. Two songs into the set, Alexander clarified the two things they associate with the Queen City: Viva Chicken and great crowds. In fact, through their last tour, whenever something good happened (shows, food, good luck, you name it), the band would refer to it as “Charlotte good”. 

Their set was a quick one, but one that was filled with meaningful moments between the band themselves and the crowd. The highlight of the show (for me!) was the mini-cover of Tove Lo’s “Habits” before the band’s antithesis “Nothing Gets Me High”. Older songs were given love too, as “Joseph” and “Psychic Reader” made their return to the Charlotte crowd.

Opening up the night was LA’s alt-pop breath of fresh air Party Nails. You may remember Elana Belle Carrol’s last time in the Queen City when she toured with PVRIS and Lights last year. This time, she traded a LiveNation venue for a genuine set in on of Charlotte’s most loved venue. Singing songs from her debut Past Lives And Paychecks, Carroll had Charlotte wrapped around her finger. The most memorable moment in the show was her soft rant about having choices and opportunities as young women in this day and age. Throughout the hoots and hollers, Carroll introduced what was easily the best song on the setlist “With Time (I Will Come 2 U)”.

Bad Bad Hats took to the stage shortly after Party Nails set up at the merch stand. What’s next for the Minneapolis trio?

We are playing lots of shows! Which is great, we love traveling and playing new cities. When we recorded the album, there were a few extra songs that didn’t quite make the cut, so we’re hoping to put together a little EP of those songs. Hopefully that’s out soon!”

And we do too! Though Lightning Round is a treasured part of my musical life, I wouldn’t be mad about more new songs. You can catch the rest of the tour dates here! Get yourself to a show and do your best to make the set “Charlotte good”.

Sheila Walsh graduated from USC Aiken in 2015 with a degree in English. While in school, she won an essay competition for an argumentative essay on why the arts are crucial to the education system. Additionally, she was recruited to play volleyball for USCA and contributed to a weekly journal discussing the life of a student-athlete. She currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

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