The first time I saw Bad Bad Hats play a show it was in the parking lot of a brewery during Art-A-Whirl a few years ago. What stuck with me after that show, beyond the upbeat power trio playing their indie rock anthems, was a moment when vocalist Kerry Alexander looked at one of those flimsy noodle guys that dance outside car dealerships and encouraged the audience to dance like him. Met with a ripple of nervous giggles, many people happily obliged.
It was a small moment, but one that stuck with me as an indication of a rare sort of personable and funny presence in a live performance, one that I’ve seen hold up across the many live sets I’ve caught from the band. That earnest, goofiness is captured perfectly in the new video for “Detroit Basketball.” It’s the first single off the band’s upcoming record, Walkman, which comes out on Sept. 17 on Don Giovanni Records.
“We wanted to do a video for this song because it has such a playful energy and, well, we think we’re pretty funny,” Kerry Alexander said. “So we wanted to show that side of ourselves. Chris had the idea of a sort of getting the band back together thing.”
The video features each member of the trio embarking on an heightened version of classic pandemic hobbies, with a little bit of wordplay thrown in. Alexander leads a summit on naps, drummer Con Davison is a hyper-competitive puzzler and bassist Chris Hoge tinkers with tiny versions of salty snacks to make adorable “chips in a bottle.”
“I had been spending lots of time on Etsy looking for a piece of furniture,” Alexander said. “Turns out there are a lot of people making mini furniture online, so I kept thinking I had found a great deal and getting excited only to find out it was miniature. So from that, I knew I wanted to do something with miniature items from the beginning.”
By the end of the video, the three have joined up to knock the dust off their instruments and play a backyard birthday show for an audience of one. It’s a nod and a wink at the past 18 months or so without feeling too topical and maintaining Bad Bad Hats’ beloved quirky charm. The video was largely dreamed up and edited by the band themselves.
“Our friend Dan Stewart came to help us shoot; he brought his cameras and such,” Alexander said. “I had a storyboard made up and after we filmed it I edited it together in iMovie. I sent it back to Dan to do color edits. I don’t know how to do that, it was really a team effort.”
In a year without live shows Bad Bad Hats took full advantage of the live stream platform, putting on a series of in-home concerts they cheekily called “Islands in the Livestream.” Kerry and Chris’s offbeat charisma make for a charming show that feels part concert and part an invitation into their home for a comforting distraction. The band’s new explorations in video work are likely to be something that continues long after tours are back on calendars.
“I’m grateful the livestream thing worked out, it allowed us to stay creative in other ways,” Alexander said. “I feel like we could go back to that whenever, like do a sort of hybrid between streaming and shows.”