Hares On The Mountain - Dan's Silverleaf - 4/15/12

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Hares On The Mountain Dan's Silverleaf Sunday, April 15

"It's Denton church," Harlin Anderson, creator of the annual mini-extravaganza Lumberjack Fest, told me two months ago, when describing the weekly Hares on the Mountain residency at Dan's Silverleaf.

To be sure, one can draw many parallels between the earmarks of a more lively church service and a typical Sunday Hares show. For instance, a collection vessel is passed around. George Neal, unofficial front man of the band, is the consummate preacher, clenching the crowd's attention with relentless showmanship from behind (and in front) of his skinny black pulpit. His choir of Hares harmonize with him gorgeously, each of them singing lead at one point or another.

They had another weekly spot at the Free Man in Dallas for a while, but it seems the band feels more at home at Dan's. "I don't know if there's some inherent difference that I see between the Dallas crowd and the Denton crowd," Neal explained, with Ryan Thomas Becker adding that those shows helped to build their fan base more than any other residency.

The comparison to church is something Neal and co-creator Becker don't find as apt as some, but the theme kept coming up. "We don't really try to put on a performance as much as we sort of throw a party," Neal said. "It's almost like a little revival or something."

You can also compare the show to a stand-up comedy act, with Neal spewing out joke after joke. Right before their fifth song, as he was about to pass around the collection vase, he used bassist Tony Ferraro, dressed adorably in a red pajama onesie, complete with a butt flap, as his call for the good congregation to give tithing to local charity. (The theme of the show was pajama party and, as Neal would explain later, it came to fruition after a drunken conversation from a prior night of debauchery.)

"Please give generously," he said. "Because it seems that our own Tony Ferraro has fused with his union suit. He needs a union suit-ectomy! And, to accomplish this, two sets of spatulas are required to be inserted in through the butt flap."

Laughs abounded, and the Hares continued with a streak of covers, including an old 19th century traditional folk song The Pogues recently covered, "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day," sung by mandolin player Cory Coleman, as well as a foot-stomping rendition of "Whisky in the Jar."

Their second to last song, "Ain't No Big Man Living In the Sky," sent Neal gracefully, yet chaotically, dancing through the audience, shoving the microphone into their collective face, screaming his atheist anti-paean: "There ain't no big man living in the sky/ There ain't no angels sittin' up on high/You're born, you live, and then you die/ There ain't no big man living in the sky."

If you get a chance to see the Hares anytime soon, especially at their weekly 5 p.m. Sunday shows, be prepared to leave your personal problems at the door, because they won't let you bring them in.

By the way: The Hares' new album, It Will Only Hurt Forever, released at their 35 Denton show, can be purchased on their website.

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